Students take to the bars

When 100 people signed up for the UVM gymnastics club’s first general meeting last semester, senior captain and president Danielle Bois had a theory for the unprecedented interest.”Some of us thought the Olympics over the summer sparked a lot of interest in gymnastics,” Bois said. However, fellow club officer, sophomore Daniella Sasson, said that “no one really mentioned [the Olympics] at the meeting,” lending support to a new theory – UVM’s gymnastics club was making a name for itself on campus.After an overwhelming turnout, Sasson said the club has whittled itself down to about 45 passionate female members, along with 10 men. Both Sasson and Bois noted that the club is open to all gymnastics levels, whether it’s their first time or they have been competing since infancy. “Our philosophy is that any student that wants to can try it out,” Bois said.Sasson, who doubles as the team’s publicist, said she did gymnastics from the ages of four to eight, but hadn’t touched gymnastics since then until joining as a freshman “on a whim.” Bois, who joined the team in 2005 as a freshman, said the team was much smaller back then.”Since the club was so small my freshman year, we were kind of worried it would die,” Bois said. “So we did a lot to spread the word, like putting up flyers – we always go to the activities fairs and try to make a lot of commotion by doing hand stands and flips.” The women’s side of the club is coached by junior Kayla Ronds. Sasson said that Ronds was a level-10 gymnast – the highest level attainable in gymnastics – before ankle injuries forced her to the sidelines.The club recently competed at Syracuse, placing an impressive second of five teams, Sasson said.Because gymnastics was dropped as a varsity sport in 2001, the team has since been forced to practice off-campus at Hruska’s Gym in Winooski. It is there that they will host their only home meet of the season on Feb. 28.The club – which is the only school-recognized gymnastics club in Vermont – will host BU, Cornell and URI. Following that meet, the club, which competes as part of the NAGIC club gymnastics conference, will travel to Atlanta for Nationals.”This year, we’re taking 25 people, which is the biggest trip we’ve ever had,” Bois said. Bois emphasized that she would like to see the team compete to the best of their ability at the competition. However, in the true nature of club sports, Bois recognizes that just getting there smoothly is half the battle.”As an officer, planning the meet and getting there without hitting too many obstacles is a big victory,” Bois said.While Sasson and Bois both noted that the team strives to be competitive, more importantly the club has proven to be a great way to meet friends and stay active at UVM.”I’ve made my closest friends on the team and I’ve learned so much about running a club and being part of a team and just supporting one another,” Bois said. “We’re a diverse group, in that everyone is so different and I would have never have metthem unless they were on the team.”The women’s team next competes at URI on Feb. 14.