It is much like a story line from one of today’s countless reality TV shows: two virtual strangers picked to live together, attend school and train for gymnastics together for a year.
But for Missouri sophomore gymnasts Alicia Hatcher and Adrianne Perry, there were no cameras trailing them, no producers editing out the long, tedious days and no audience watching. There was just a freshman year of high school to survive.
They first met when Perry, a Columbia native, moved in eighth grade to train at the Great American Gymnastic Express in Blue Springs. Hatcher, who is from Blue Springs, was already training there. When Perry needed a place to live, she found a home with the Hatchers.
Both attended Blue Springs High School and spent countless hours in the gym together. They were rarely apart, an arrangement that would be difficult for most people, not to mention strangers.
“Our freshman year of high school we fought a lot,” Perry said. “We did get close, but that’s probably when we fought the most, is when we lived together and didn’t know each other and our boundaries.”
Perry eventually moved in with another family for her sophomore, junior and senior years of high school, but their bond remained strong. Their demanding gymnastics schedule didn’t allow them much time for friends and activities outside the gym, so the girls found themselves relying on each other for fun.
“We wore bikini tops and these huge skirts to homecoming one year,” Hatcher said. “We went to this vintage store and bought these huge skirts. It was really funny and a really good time, and no one else had on what we had on.”
When it came time to look at colleges, the girls pursued different avenues. Perry received a scholarship offer from Louisiana State University, and Hatcher looked at the University of Michigan.
“We thought that would’ve been cool if we both went to the same college,” Perry said. “I mean she took her trips different times than I did, and we were really trying to find schools that were best suited (for us).”
After they had been together for four years, both eventually decided to attend Missouri. They roomed together in a residence hall their freshman year and now live together in an off-campus apartment. And in the spirit of good reality TV, they have occasional fights.
“Every once in a while we’ll have a little tiff, but that lasts a day, two days maybe,” Perry said.
They say disagreements are mostly over small issues around the house or other trivial things.
“I think I’m a little more organized, a little nitpicky,” Hatcher said. “I like things a certain way, and she’s more unorganized but crazy.”
“She opened me up a little bit more, and I think I’ve done the same for her in other ways,” Hatcher said. “I think we feed off each other. I think both of us have. We bring out the best in each other.”
Perry agrees that over the course of their friendship, their personalities have rubbed off on each other.
“When I first met her she was very conservative, not too crazy, and I feel like I kind of brought that out of her, you know, the weird, funny, wild side of her,” Perry said. “She’s a very sweet girl, she’s a very smart girl. She’s just a good person all-around.”
Not that they’re complete opposites. Both love to go out dancing and, of course, to shop.
“I would say that there are some aspects that are definitely similar. Like we both love to go out and have fun, and we’re just happy and content with each other,” Hatcher said.
“I think we’ve kind of meshed,” Perry agreed. “I feel like when we first met, she was way different than she is now. Even since she’s been in college she’s opened up way more than she ever has.”
The two have served the team well so far this year. In all four events, either Perry or Hatcher holds the team’s season-high score. They said they plan on helping each other keep on track.
“It’s just nice to have someone that is going through the exact same things you are,” Hatcher said. “So whenever you have a bad day, or even having a great day, you always have someone there that just knows what it’s like and knows exactly what you’re feeling.”
Perry agrees, adding that their similar goals make it easy to help keep each other focused.
“I feel like we push each other,” Perry said. “We’ve always been on the same page with like, we want to do good in our academics, we want to excel in our gymnastics. We’re always kind of watching, pushing each other, making sure that we never got too far off-track from what we were trying to do.”