Mary Beth Box has a laugh that can bring grown man to tears.
It did, actually, about a week ago when she was telling a funny story to a few Gym Dog teammates and a few Georgia staffers. Box got caught up in the hilarity of her own story and couldn‚Äôt control her infectious laugh, leading a Georgia video production manager to cry because he was laughing so hard.
‚ÄúYou know when you laugh so hard, nothing comes out? Well, (with) hers, everything comes out,‚Äù said Brittany Rogers, a fellow Gym Dog and Box‚Äôs roommate. ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs just so distinct and you know when it‚Äôs Mary Beth laughing. I‚Äôve never heard anyone laugh like that, but it‚Äôs part of her.‚Äù
The sophomore admittedly can have a childlike sense of humor and will store funny moments only to replay them in her mind to give herself a good laugh. The picturesque Southern belle ‚Äî as Rogers calls her ‚Äî from Calhoun whose older sister, Mariel, competed for the Gym Dogs from 2009-12 will gladly be on any welcoming committee.
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs never met a stranger, ever,‚Äù Georgia coach Danna Durante said. ‚ÄúShe knows everybody. If she doesn‚Äôt know them, she‚Äôll know them in two seconds.‚Äù
She did that with Rogers, the Coquitlam, British Columbia, native who arrived in Athens for her freshman year soon after the conclusion of the 2012 London Olympics.
‚ÄúI thought she had the weirdest, most prominent Southern accent in the world. I was straight off of the boat pretty much from Canada and I was just blown away by her accent. I wanted it,‚Äù Rogers said. ‚Äú… I was just ecstatic that I had someone so authentically Southern to represent my life down here with me and have her along with me who knows so much about the south. I knew from the get-go that we were going to be friends because of how easy-going she was and pretty and nice and welcoming.‚Äù
Box, her sunny disposition and her laugh took over the leadoff spot on beam three meets ago, a transition Box had to warm up to after competing in the third spot through the first five meets.
Durante told Box the good news and helped sooth some timing concerns.
‚ÄúWe practiced out here several times and at first I was very rushed because I was in the third position, so I had so much more time to get in my zone,‚Äù Box said.
Said Durante: ‚ÄúShe fought I think a little bit in her mind about it and we just talked through it. I told her to sleep on it and come back and there were some things that she needed timing-wise to figure out and adjust and talk through, but it‚Äôs a role that is suited perfectly for her.‚Äù
Last week at Auburn, the Gym Dogs finished all six beam routines cleanly for just the second time all season. Box posted a 9.825 and now averages a 9.85 in the leadoff spot.
Rogers remembers talking over the transition with her roommate.
‚ÄúThat‚Äôs when I told her, ‚ÄòMary Beth, you are so confident on beam. I think that‚Äôs exactly what we need,‚Äô‚Äù Rogers said. ‚ÄúAnd I told her that if I were to pick anyone from the lineup to start, she would be it because she is so confident.‚Äù
Box didn‚Äôt even have a series on beam before she hit the gym in the offseason to pull one together. That, paired with the determination to work her way into the Gym Dogs‚Äô lineups this season, is nothing to laugh at.
‚ÄúI definitely had the goal that I wanted to compete and not only compete, but maintain a position in our lineup,‚Äù Box said. ‚ÄúBut I think just keeping those visions in mind and keeping those goals and
working towards them just kept me on track.‚Äù
Follow Rachel online at twitter.com/rachelgbowers.