Head coach Jenn Najuch and members of Springfield College women’s gymnastics reflect on the program’s successful season

Darin MacEacheron
@darinmac323

The NCGA championships had completed and the All-Americans were announced.

The seniors were asked to gather in a circle on the floor surrounded by a circle of the other gymnasts.

Music started playing.

“You’re gonna miss this/You’re gonna want this back/ You’re gonna wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast…”  

As the melodies of Trace Adkins move throughout Blake Arena, the seniors become emotional as they realized their journey had come to an end.

The Springfield College women’s gymnastics team came a long way this year. On Mar. 10, the program placed fourth in the NCGA East Regionals Championships, totalling a score of 189.525. A program record.

Junior Jess Clemens was named East Gymnast of the year and eight members of the team were set to compete at the NCGA Championships.

On the national stage, Clemens took All-American honors on the uneven parallel bars and vault.  Freshman Ali Rushlow earned All-American honors on the all-around competition and sophomore Tali Twomey won the national championship on the floor event.

Although four seniors lead this team, the newest members of the program were not far behind in their contributions.

“I don’t think the team would have been here had it not been for such a strong freshman class,” said head coach Jenn Najuch.  “The older members were pushed a lot harder than in years past because they knew just how skilled the freshman were. Most freshman come in raw needing a lot of work but everyone for us seemed to come in naturally and have all of their skills set in place.”

Outside of practices and meets, this team made a lot of connections and friendships that are bound to last forever.

“Gymnastics truly is one of those sports where your team becomes your family,” said senior Briana Kerr.  “You’ve been doing this sport since you were four years old and you’ve put so much time and effort into this.  So much passion goes into competing and that’s what I’m going to miss about this team. It’s their passion and knowing that every single one of my teammates has my back at all times.  Nothing will beat that feeling.”

Not only did the athletes have each others backs, but they also were behind Coach Najuch the whole way.

Najuch just capped off her third season as head coach of the Pride and so far she has made amazing strides by coaching 10 All-Americans and a national champion.

Although she has incredible success, Najuch gives the credit to her gymnasts.

“They can always make me laugh or smile at any given point which makes it easier on me because coaching can get stressful at times.  They are a great group of girls who consistently stay focused and humble. They just want what’s best for the program and what’s best for the team.  Over the past three years, they have worked with me to make positive changes to the program and to the team atmosphere and you can just tell how much the team has grown because of it.  I am going to really miss the seniors.”

“…These are some good time/ So take a good look around/ You may not know it/ But you’re gonna miss this now.”

The song starts to wind down and the parents of the seniors are asked to join them in the center circle.  At this point, it is hard to find anyone in the center circle without a tear on their face. They all realize how much they have gone through and now that it’s all over, all they can do is look back on the memories and smile.

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