"I've definitely learned over the past few years, this past year mostly, that keeping certain things private is okay," the LSU gymnast tells PEOPLE
Olivia Dunne has increased her personal security for the upcoming gymnastics season.
As Dunne, 21, prepares for her senior year as an LSU gymnast, she tells PEOPLE that the Louisiana university "really helped" her put the appropriate security measures in place after a frightening incident last year.
"Actually, we've got it settled down a bit," Dunne says of the concern over her safety.
She explains, "We haven't competed since last season, so we'll see what this season holds. But after the incident in Utah that happened last year, we now have a security guard that travels with the LSU gymnastics team."
The LSU star is referring to the chaotic scene that broke out at the University of Utah when her team traveled to compete.
Dunne was injured at the time, but swarms of young men gathered outside of the building and chanted “We want Livvy! Give us Livvy!” during other gymnasts’ routines, Sports Illustrated reported after the incident.
Utah sports writer Josh Furlong was covering the meet in real time and said, "There's literally a line outside of the Huntsman Center of teenage boys that keep asking if Livvy is coming out. I've never seen anything like this," in a post on X.
Police intervened and LSU's team bus ultimately had to move "so they didn't have to run into the group of boys. There were cops stationed in front to avoid them getting in," wrote Furlong.
As she prepares for her senior year, Dunne tells PEOPLE she's grateful for her time at LSU and learning how to navigate her fame. "Last year was probably one of the most rewarding and most difficult years of my life," she says. "Just having so many eyes on me was such a new feeling, but it was pretty cool at the same time."
Now navigating her romantic relationship with baseball player Paul Skenes in the public eye, Dunne says she's "still learning" how to balance her private life with her digital one.
"I've definitely learned over the past few years that, this past year mostly, that keeping certain things private is okay," the LSU gymnast shares.
Skenes, 21, confirmed he and Dunne were dating in August after fans began reading into social media hints. He said the attention on their relationship "can be a pain in the butt sometimes" during an interview with The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Dunne tells PEOPLE, "It's funny because there's speculations at first about it, but I guess people caught onto us having pictures and videos together out in public, so that's kind of how the news broke."
"But we try to keep things private," Dunne adds.
Since her rise to fame, Dunne says, "This year I have the best grasp on it."
She explains, "The past few years, juggling NIL or ever since my sophomore year, since the summer of 2021, I've definitely had a hard time finding balance."
Dunne continues, "That's really important because if you don't have balance, that can affect your mental health. I finally feel like I got a grasp on it this year. It's just compartmentalizing things mentally is very important in my everyday routine."
Last month, Dunne's Livvy Fund — which first launched in July — announced a new partnership with Accelerator Active Energy. The brand will be the first to do NIL deals with athletes through the fund and eight LSU gymnastic athletes will become Accelerator ambassadors, the brand said in a statement to PEOPLE.
"I've been fortunate enough to have all these different opportunities with NIL and to have experience because it could be very foreign to other athletes at the start of it," Dunne says of the announcement.
"So, I just wanted to help other women and give them opportunities to learn and have more NIL deals because they deserve it just as much as I do."
Dunne's net worth was at an estimated $3.5 million in July, according to the On3 NIL 100 list. She became the top-earning NCAA female athlete after the NCAA agreed to the new Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) policy in July 2021, allowing student-athletes to accept sponsorship deals.
The brand says Dunne, whose NIL deals include American Eagle and Motorola, selected gymnastics as the first of the LSU women's sports to benefit from the partnership during her senior year at the university.
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Dunne says LSU has "helped so much throughout NIL after the rule changed" and that the school even has an entire department dedicated to helping their student-athletes navigate NIL deals.
"They've been nothing but supportive, so I figured I'd give back to the school and the program that has helped me so much."
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Read the original article on People.