As winter rolls around, Marlington High School brings gymnastics back for its fifteenth year. This is no ordinary sport, containing many differences in both team structure and competition format from your average school sport.
In an interview with head coach Victoria Thewes, the Grand Dukes Staff was able to obtain an inside look at the gymnastics program and Marlington’s upcoming season.
The season consists of two invitationals and one OHSAA meet, as well as sectionals that have yet to be scheduled. Competitions usually last from 9 am to 4 pm and have twenty different school teams participating, leaving a busy day for the competitors.
One of the largest differences between gymnastics and normal school sports is the focus on the individual. Gymnasts are expected to create and reach their own goals throughout the season. While Marlington gymnastics competes at level 8, there is no varsity or junior varsity within the sport.
Gymnastics is easily one of the most difficult sports available to students, requiring strength, speed, agility, elegance, dancing skills and prior experience in the sport. Gymnasts must possess all of these skills, but also remain fearless through the entire process.
Another key difference is the amount of money required to participate in gymnastics. While most sports are pay-to-play, meaning there is a standard fee to join a sport, each gymnast has to individually pay for themselves. Due to this, they partake in many fundraisers in order to counteract fees throughout the season.
Not being a very well-known or popular sport, gymnastics does not have many members, although it does continue to grow in popularity. Currently, Marlington has four gymnasts, increasing by one from the previous year. Admission is very selective, with prior experience being mandatory except in rare instances when someone may be evaluated by the coach. The team is captained by junior Sarianne Baum.
With rivalries being common in high school sports, gymnastics defies the norms and “blurs the lines” between competing schools, as coach Thewes puts it. Everyone wants to see everyone else succeed, regardless of school allegiance.
Even though their program often goes unnoticed, this does not stop them from striving for greatness within the sport. The girls look forward to their upcoming season and hope to have the support of their peers and community.
Gymnastics’ official season begins in December, where practices are held one to two times per week. Gymnasts are able to attend practice as well as open-gyms to rehearse their routines.