Otto taking advantage of 6th year of eligibility


CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — An injury usually isn’t be something to happy about, but for Mary Jane Otto, she talks about it with a smile on her face.

“It’s just such a blessing and I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to do it for six years, because most people don’t,” Otto said.

Mary Jane, or MJ as her teamates know her, has suffered three injuries in her collegiate career. But after tearing both achilles, and fracturing a foot, she was determined to get back on the floor, even if that meant having to redshirt twice, now making it her 6th year at Illinois.

“It’s kind of mostly a mental game, you just have to stay mentally though and mentally in it, and the physical will kind of follow,” Otto said.

But getting through these injuries wouldn’t have been possible without her biggest supporter, her husband Ryan Otto, who she married last August.

“When I hurt myself last year, he just kind of told me he had this vision, he’s like ‘MJ I think you’re gonna fly again, I just see you flying again in gymnastics’,” Otto said. “He’s just been super supportive, and it’s been awesome to do this with him.”

And fly again she has. With Ryan’s encouragement, the 23-year old is just as motivated as she was when she first got to Illinois. She has goals to win a Big Ten team championship, and make her third appearance at Nationals.

“She’s at a different phase in life, but she doesn’t treat everyone else as less than her just cause she’s married and she’s on a trajectory that’s different cause she’s older,” head coach Nadalie Walsh said. “Having her this year has been outstanding, she’s doing so well and we’re so proud of her.”

Now back on the floor, MJ will strive to repeat her Big 10 bars championship from 2017, and Ryan will get to watch her fly for one more season.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.