Gymnastics Club Feature

Although it hasnt been a varsity sport at Vermont since the early 2000s, gymnastics maintains a presence on campus through Vermont Gymnastics. The club is split into mens and womens teams and despite practicing and competing as separate teams, the two squads have a very close relationship. With their yearly home meet later this month on the 23rd, The Cynic felt there was no better time to get to know the club better.

After gymnastics was eliminated as a varsity sport in 2001 due to budget cuts, the club sprung up immediately in its wake as a way for varsity athletes to continue competing. The club saw impressive initial success, winning a National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs Womens Championship in 2004 with many holdovers from the varsity squad.

Since then, the club has evolved into an organization that still competes across New England and yearly at Nationals, but the clubs emphasis is on an inclusive environment focused on each members individual improvement. With no tryouts, anyone is welcome whether they have competed since they were little or are trying it for the first time. You can compete in as many or few events as youd like. Its pretty much what you make of it. Theres no one there yelling at you and pushing you to do more things than you should or want to. Everyone tries their hardest, sophomore Danza Rodriguez said.

For example, senior Erika Parry, the Clubs president, joined Gymnastics Club as a first-year having never competed, only participating in the sport for fun. She was searching for clubs to join when she decided to try Gymnastics Club and hasnt looked back.

Gymnastics is a frustrating sport at times, Parry said. Its very mentally challenging, but its also very rewarding.

What helped to draw her in was that the clubs environment was comfortable and conducive to learning. We have a few other people who, like me, had never competed before college, Parry said. I know I can be self-conscious about not having done gymnastics for as long as [others] have, but everyone is so nice about helping you and encouraging you. Its a very supportive group of people.

The support and guidance also led Parry to take on the leadership position in the club. My first year I bonded with the upper classmen and thats how I got involved with leadership roles. They took me in and I saw how everything worked. They were really my first group of friend here, my family almost. Last year Parry served as the clubs treasurer.

Recently, the teams competed separately with the women in Rhode Island and the men at the New England Championships in Amherst, but different states wasnt enough to keep the teams apart. After competitions concluded for the girls,` they packed into a van and traveled to Springfield College to see the men place second overall.

Most of the teams meets are during second semester, practice however, takes place all year. During the spring the team stays busy, competing almost every weekend. Gymnasts who compete are expected to attend at least three practices per week including a mandatory practice on Sunday nights. Practice is held Monday through Thursday evenings at Green Mountain Gymnastics in Williston.

Holding frequent practices all year long allows the team to accept newcomers and eliminates the need for any kind of tryouts. Sophomore Brian Varga feels that the lack of tryouts is the best part of the whole experience. Despite participating in gymnastics his whole life, Brian likes that, Anyone can join and if you are willing to work hard and put in the time and effort then you can compete for us, on our team. I dont like excluding people so I think its great that there are no tryouts.

Vermonts home meet is later than usual this year and Parry thinks that the change is good. I honestly think it will be better because it will be closer to Nationals. Plus its not as rushed when we get back from Winter Break. Usually its one of the first weekends in February.

Members unanimously feel that their best memories came from Nationals. Each year all the NAIGC schools from across the country compete in a different city. This year it will be in Minneapolis, April 11-13. Nationals in the past have taken place in San Marcos, Texas and Salt Lake City, Utah.

And its those memories: long bus trips, late nights in hotel rooms and the downtime after competition that will stick with team members even after they graduate.

The Groovy UV Gymnastics Classic will be held March 23 at Green Mountain Gymnastics in Williston.

Readers who are interested in supporting Vermont Gymnastics and all ofUVMsclub sports can purchase this years Naked Calendar. The Club Sports program now runs the Naked Calendar and all profits support each of the teams involved.