Meet your favorite UCLA gymnastics fan. How Josh Lim became the best dancer in the group

Hardly anyone in the world can match the art of the Brooklyn Moors. Josh Lim is only here to try.

As UCLA gymnasts debuted a new floor routine on March 5, Lim was in the front row of the student section of Pauley Pavilion. When Moors, a Canadian Olympic finalist known for her grace on the floor, dipped her head, arched her back and dropped dramatically to the floor during her routine, Lim, a bespectacled third-grader, was there. applied mathematics and statistics, matching his every move.

Lim was out of focus in the background of a video on the floor, but still attracted attention.

“Back boy!” a tweet read with a short video. “You. Better. Work.” The clapping emoji punctuated each word.

Along with her friend Laura DeFalco, Lim has competed in UCLA’s gymnastics meets this season. They dress in Hawaiian shirts, stand in the front row, and join the floor choreography of all the Bruins gymnasts. Lim’s perfect side dance is almost as eye-catching as the gymnasts they are imitating.

“She knows all of our routines on point,” senior Chloe Lashbrooke said. “He nails it almost better than I do.”

Devoted fan Josh Lim, 21, and friend Laura DeFalco, 20, dance during UCLA’s game against Iowa State on March 11 at Pauley Pavilion.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Olympic silver medalist and world champion Jordan Chiles said: “Josh stay on point. … He should get an award for that. He should get an award for the best man out there.”

It’s dedicated students like Lim who have helped make UCLA gymnastics “the best show in LA,” said senior Margzetta Frazier.

The spectacle gets a special season finale this week as the Bruins host the NCAA regionals, a three-round, nine-team meet with the top two seeds advancing to the NCAA championships. Brigham Young University and Boise State begin the regional meet on Wednesday, with the winner advancing to Thursday’s regional semifinals at 7 p.m. against UCLA 4, 13 Missouri and Stanford. No. 5 Utah and No. 12 Auburn have Thursday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against Southern Utah and Washington. The top two teams from each semifinal compete in the regional final on Saturday at 5 p.m.

If the Bruins can pull off a crowded field, they will end a two-year drought, the longest in program history.

While UCLA is vying for a spot in the NCAA championships, Lim will also be working toward her title. President of the UCLA club gymnastics team, Lim will be in Memphis, Tenn., for the National Assn. In the championships of International Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC).

Not going to the NCAA regionals was a tough decision, Lim said. In addition to dancing with the Bruins for the last time this year, the reunion will feature some of her college favorites, such as Utah’s Maile O’Keefe and Kara Eaker. But as a fan of a team known for spreading joy through gymnastics, it seems more fitting that Lim will spend the week following UCLA’s example on its competition floor.

“NAIGC’s motto is ‘the love of sports,'” said Lim. “We’re just a bunch of people all coming together and playing the sport we love.”

Lim won the national male development exercise last year and choreographs for himself and his teammates. Because NAIGC allows inter-gender competition, Lim can perform both men’s and women’s floor routines.

Lim, who has also worked the balance beam, vault, uneven bars and parallel bars this year, estimates that she is one of two to three men competing on the women’s floor at her meets. With the help of his teammates, Lim has not held back.

“My goal is to give the judges the biggest show possible,” Lim said. “I want to be like that, you’ve never seen an Asian guy work like that. … I get a lot of energy and a lot of confidence on stage.”

Lim’s parents enrolled him in gymnastics classes at a young age to develop strength and flexibility. As his skill level progressed he stopped taking lessons and his parents began to worry about his safety in the sport, but watching “America’s Got Talent” in 2015 sparked his interest in retraining. He started teaching himself old tricks in the park and watching them. elite gymnastics competitions online. It was Sophina DeJesus’ viral floor routine that landed her at UCLA in 2016.

UCLA gymnastics enthusiast Josh Lim performs an exercise routine on the club floor.

UCLA gymnastics enthusiast Josh Lim performs an exercise routine on the club floor.

(Isabel Folkers)

Lim, who participated in her high school’s hip-hop dance team, loved the quality of the performance in floor routines at UCLA. Growing up five minutes from Stanford, he tried to attend meetings when the Bruins traveled to the Bay Area.

But the Bruins’ home meet feels different, and the student section is why.

“The amount of fun and energy that The Den brings to every competition is like nothing else,” UCLA coach Janelle McDonald said. “I really feel like we have some of the best gymnastics student sections in the NCAA.”

Students do not take the responsibility of being Bruins gymnastics fans lightly. Everyone prints a two-page packet of notes for each meeting, and the leaders place them neatly in every seat before the competition begins. Cheat sheets list gymnastics basics, including how scoring works and what to look for in competition, such as straight legs and stick landings. It includes dance instructions for each gymnast’s floor routine, such as “stretch your arms and yawn” at the beginning of Selena Harris’s first-class routine or ending Emma Malabuyo’s routine with her hand in the air and her gaze at the ceiling.

UCLA superfan Josh Lim and friend Laura DeFalco mimic a Bruins gymnast's floor exercise routine.

UCLA superfan Josh Lim, 21, center, and friend Laura DeFalco, 20, left, mimic a Bruins gymnast’s floor exercise routine March 11 at Pauley Pavilion.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

Lime needs no notes.

During the preseason, Lim attends various preseason intramural team meetings where the gymnasts and assistant coach/choreographer BJ Das teach the students some choreography. Den leaders videotape the routines and analyze them for the Denography notes package.

For someone who was obsessed with elite gymnastics, the opportunity to share the gym with world champions, national team stars and internet icons is an incredible opportunity.

“I am the happiest person,” said Lim. “Every time I hug a gymnast I have to pinch myself, like, ‘Oh my God, this is so cute.'”

The real practice of lime begins during winter break. After December’s Meet the Bruins event, Lim studies all the videos uploaded by UCLA and fans to teach himself the choreography. She takes advantage of every opportunity to train and makes sure she gets to meets early so she can rehearse with the gymnasts during warm-ups.

Chiles and junior Chae Campbell have the most difficult routines to learn this season, Lim said, because of the complex choreography. Frazier’s is his favorite.

Frazier has long been one of Lim’s favorite college gymnasts. Lim loves Frazier’s routines so much that as a freshman in 2021, she learned his 2019 “Din Da Da” fashion floor routine and submitted it to a NAIGC competition that was almost held due to the pandemic. He won first place in the “recreate a famous floor routine” category.

Frazier was paying attention.

“I had to come up to him and say your jumps are better than mine. Delete the video,” the three-time All-American joked. “But now when we see each other, it looks like we’re friends. I always enjoy seeing him at the gym. It’s a Bruin family.”

UCLA’s influence on social media has grown to the point where even fans acting as back-up dancers can go viral. Lim is amused whenever friends see her and DeFalco behind the scenes of the latest video. More people seem to be sending him clips this year, but he denies that he’s become a minor Gymternet icon. Every time he sees himself, he thinks about how he could do the choreography better.

For now, he will continue to work.

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