I write recaps for the Gymternet as their Division 2/Division 3 correspondent, in hopes to use my platform to bring more attention and appreciation to the smaller programs (with an ultimate goal in mind to help grow the sport).
I'm going to be a guest commentator (for the third time) on the online broadcast of a meet for my alma mater this weekend. Talking about and analyzing gymnastics is my favorite thing to do.
Next year I plan on judging collegiately, since I've had my level 10 rating for a year now. I volunteered as an auxiliary line judge two years ago when UNH hosted the EAGL Championships. It was my first indoctrination to college gymnastics judging, and I loved every second of it.
It's safe to say that I LOVE college gymnastics. I live for it. I grew up watching UNH; going to all their home meets, attending their summer camps, etc. I think my very first experience with gymnastics was when my parents brought me to a UNH gymnastics eet at the tender age of 3 or 4, and from then on, I was hooked. As a young gymnast, the UNH gymnasts were my role models, and I wanted to be just like them. I had all my favorite gymnasts, I would get their autographs after each meet and memorize bits and pieces of their floor routines. My ultimate goal became to compete in college gymnastics.
I ended up at a Division 3 program (Rhode Island College in Providence, #AnchorStrong), where I spent my final four years competing in gymnastics. Those four years changed my life. My college gymnastics experience was.... unconventional to say the least (my program was cut and then reinstated. It's a long story, but it's here if you're interested). Despite it all, I would not have changed my experience for anything, and I'm telling you, there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING like college gymnastics.
It's more team-oriented than individual, unlike the JO world I was so used to. You compete for the team, not for yourself. The meets are LOUD. I thrived on that kind of controlled chaos. I can still remember what it felt like to stand in the corner of the floor, gazing down the diagonal as I prepared to tumble, with my teammates screaming their faces off next to me, trying to outscream the team competing on beam. I loved it. Hearing my teammates' cheers echo all around me motivated me to put it all out there; to fight; to be the best version of myself. I still carry a lot of that with me every day when I coach. I cheer pretty loudly for my own athletes as they're competing (sorry about it. Actually, I'm not), which is pretty unconventional in the (often stiff) world of JO gymnastics. The college gymnast is still very much alive in me, even though it's been nearly four years since I put away the leotards for good, and it is from her that I derive a lot of my coaching style.
We are extremely lucky in New Hampshire to have a college gymnastics team right here, and it's important that we support them. I know first-hand that college gymnastics teams are often the first sports on the chopping block when budgets get tight. Gymnastics is in most cases a "non-revenue" sport in college. It doesn't pay the bills like football or basketball does, and as a result, it's often under-appreciated and under-marketed. Did you know that UNH is #2 in the entire country on balance beam right now? Did you know that UNH gymnast Casey Lauter is ranked #1 in the country individually on balance beam, ahead of olympians and world champions? It's pretty incredible. I was at the UNH meet this weekend and watching them on beam in person is truly a religious experience. They are so strong, so confident, so clean on that event.
So why support UNH and college gymnastics?
1. College meets are FUN and exciting. There's lots of noise, lots of crowd interaction
2. College gymnasts make excellent role models for your young gymnast. These women are at the top of their sport while excelling academically. They are confident, poised, strong, and smart, a.k.a everything we want our daughters to be.
3. Attending a UNH meet or signing your daughter up for a camp/clinic helps fund their program, thus ensuring that future generations of gymnasts have a place to compete.
4. These girls are throwing big, difficult skills that are exciting to watch. Who doesn't like watching someone doing some seriously awesome flips? College gymnasts compete very high difficulty with so much grace that they make it look effortless.
5. Each and every single college gymnast started out exactly as your child did: taking a gymnastics class.
So please, please, make the drive to Durham on February 13th at 7;00pm, and February 26th at 7:30pm and support our amazing Wildcats! You won't regret it!
Peace, love, and gymnastics,
Spectrum Gymnastics Academy
26 Buttrick Rd
About the Author
Coach Sarah is a former Rhode Island College gymnast, NCGA National qualifier, All-American, current gymnastics coach and judge, and contributor for the gymnastics news source, The Gymternet. Find out what's going on at Spectrum and learn more about the incredible sport of gymnastics!