This year’s varsity gymnastics team got off to an excellent start this season, finishing in first place at its opening meet. With new talent added to the team, the gymnasts are working toward a season of success.
“We have strived to win [district] every year, but always came a little short compared to [James] Madison,” junior and third year varsity gymnastics member Macie Vance said. The team competed in the district meet on Feb. 3, and the results were not available at time of print.
At gymnastics meets, athletes receive a score out of 10 for their individual performances. The points are added up to determine the winner of the meet. Events include the balance beam, vault, bars and floor. Many gymnasts set goals for themselves to get better at their preferred events.
“My personal goal is to beat my previous score of 9.2 on beam in districts and regions last year,” junior and third year varsity gymnastics member Maddie Bullock said.
Although gymnasts compete in events alone, their teammates support them, creating a team-like atmosphere. The team performs specific rituals before meets that bring members closer together and help them gain confidence. Gymnasts prepare for meets by listening to music together and talking about how they can improve. Performing a routine can be extremely nerve-wracking, but the team’s support can help boost self-esteem.
“One of our pregame rituals for bars is circling around the chalk bucket together around the ‘holy water,’” sophomore Alexis Fitzgerald said.
The teammates pretend the chalk bucket is holy water and circle around it to bring good luck for the meet.
Aside from just pre-meet rituals, the high school team comes together to help each other in ways that club teams do not. There are many features that are different from high school and club gymnastics. On a high school team, teammates help each other improve rather than just focusing on their own skills.
Gymnasts bond throughout the season, which helps them feel more comfortable when performing around their teammates.
“For team bonding every year, we have a team sleepover and have big and little sisters,” senior and captain Ashvita Vadicherla said. “Big and little sisters allow the upperclassmen to guide the underclassmen through traditions and high school gymnastics, and to have extra close support during practice and meets.”
The big and little sister tradition is when an upperclassman gets assigned an underclassman to be their “little sister” for the season, providing them with advice, gifts and a new friend. As the only person who has been on the gymnastics team for all four years, Vadicherla organizes spirit wear, helps run practices and reminds the girls of practice and meet times as the captain.
“Practice [consists of] stretching and then warm-up tumbling,” Vadicherla said. “From there, everyone splits up to events they need to work on.”
The individualized support each team member gives and receives, as well as the excellent leadership, allows them to come together and perform their best at every meet.
“The full team dynamic is so positive that I can’t imagine going through high school without some of my best friends,” Vance said. “Everyone on the team is very nice and helpful to one another no matter what the problem is.”