Reaching a high bar
Gymnastics team kept hopes high in the midst of rebuilding year
by Kayla Fogarty
Coach Jamie Kline supports Sophomore Brittny Miller at the grand ledge duel meet. Photo Credit: Studio M Sports
Gymnastics is more of a mentally and physically challenging sport than it’s given credit for.
Gymnasts face a lot of struggles, like injuries and mental blocks that make this sport challenging on its own. These struggles make it as difficult as basketball and wrestling, which often get the majority of focus from fans and supporters during the winter athletic season.
Junior Lexi Guardiola has been competing in gymnastics since she was a sophomore. Guardiola acknowledged the challenges she has to face in gymnastics and the need to overcome them.
“[The biggest challenge is] having the courage to keep going. So many things happen and you get knocked down, but you have to have the mental toughness and physical toughness to get back up and keep going,” Guardiola said.
Junior Aliya Mcfadden, agrees that there are specific challenges they have to face.
“[You have to be okay] pushing through injuries and having mental toughness” Mcfadden said.
Mcfadden explains her own experiences with the physical strain that accompanies the sport.
“[Gymnastics] is really demanding on your body, so everyday, you’re always pushing yourself so your body is always hurting” Mcfadden said.
One of the factors that made this year particularly difficult was the lack of practices due to COVID-19. One positive case on the team would put the whole team at risk of not being able to practice for seven to fourteen days. Because of these shortened practices, it was harder to be able to get rest in between the crammed meet schedule.
Through the pandemic, the gymnastics team has been shut down due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases. Junior Paytin Kesson acknowledged the setbacks these shutdowns brought on the team and how the team showed perseverance through it.
“[Our team] got shut down multiple times, but still bounced back stronger than before,” Kesson said.
Junior Lexi Guardiola scores her first nine on floor. Photo Credit: Lexi Guardiola
Because of the irregular practice schedule due to many shutdowns this season, the team struggled to perform their routines with confidence.
Guardiola spoke of the importance of a proper
practice schedule and how COVID-19 has caused conflicts with this.
“When we take weeks off, it can be super hard to get back into gymnastics and keep your body in the right shape and get the repetition you need to do good and do it safely,” Guardiola said.
Senior Breanna Carr continued, discussing the danger of doing gymnastics without a consistent practice schedule.
“If you don’t practice, you lose the skill, which can make it become more dangerous to compete,” Carr said.
Even through two different shutdowns, the team continued to push through.
The competitive Holt gymnastics team is made up of nine girls from Holt, Mason, and Dansville high schools. Only three gymnasts are upperclassmen who have been on the team since freshman year. This has resulted in a lack of leadership and bonding on the team.
The Holt High School varsity gymnastics team getting their picture taken before the meet by Studio M Sports. Photo Credit: Studio M Sports
Guardiola reflected on the loss of seniors and the flood of incoming freshmen.
“I think there’s a lot of potential talent on the team, but there’s just so many freshmen and people who are starting fresh that our skill level is much lower,” Guardiola said.
Head Coach Jamie Kline agreed, noting this is a rebuilding year for the team and the struggles she has gone through trying to coach this year in particular.
“[This season is] the hardest I’ve ever experienced” Kline said.
Through the shutdown and lack of upperclassman leadership, the gymnastics team has still persevered through the inconsistencies and gone on to have a successful season.
Guardiola reflects on how this season ended.
She said, “This season we didn’t accomplish all of our goals and it may not have ended the way we all wanted, but with this new team, we are going to come back next year and accomplish what we didn’t finish this year.”
The Holt High School varsity gymnastics team entering grand ledge meet. Photo Credit: Studio M Sports