By Braedan Shea
As the stands of Blake Arena on the campus of Springfield College began to fill — quickly reaching full capacity — it was clear that the energy was high. The lively crowd, made up of students, family, faculty and staff, was buzzing with excitement — an anticipation of what was to come next. As the lights dimmed at 7:03 p.m., a collective cheer rang out, signaling only one thing:
The 112th Annual Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics Homeshow was about to be underway.
Every year, the home show displays a new theme, capturing the attention of the audience through a series of interesting plots and storylines as the gymnasts show off their impressive aerial skills. This past weekend, the theme for the show was Title IX, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.
To pull off such a great event, there is lots of work that goes into it. This process becomes even harder when you try to balance being the interim women’s head coach on top of being a fifth grade special education teacher; but Springfield alum Emily Bellin was able to do just that, with the help from others.
Although having familiarity with home shows, being in a few when she was a student, it is the first time that she has been a part of directing the event.
“It was really cool to direct from the other side,” Bellin said. “It was a lot of planning, and a lot of work, obviously, and I’m really grateful for the men’s coaches as well. They did a lot of the work, especially since I was at school. But it was really great to kind of be more involved with the behind the scenes aspect.”
In the show’s opening, a video was played encapsulating some of the best athletics moments on Alden Street; ranging from players and their teammates celebrating, to historical photos from the campus’s past.
As the video reached its conclusion, the audience was given the first look of action, as the gymnasts stormed the court. Upon getting a roar from the crowd, they got into what they do best, showing extreme talent.
Once getting a taste of what the show would entail, it was time for the heart of the event to begin. The first storyline was that of the Olympics, as a multitude of men and women emerged from the darkness dawning the uniforms of different countries; where they amazed the crowd on the uneven bars.
A sub-theme of this year’s home show was that of honorment, as beyond just honoring Title IX and what it has done for women’s equality in sports, there was also the honoring of specific individuals.
Among those individuals was Billie Jean King, who was more than just an extraordinary tennis player, as she fought as hard as she could for the equal rights of women in sports. In her dedicated piece, the gymnasts played a match of air-tennis, before getting into different floor exercises, completed with acrobatic flips and well-timed tumbles.
Others who had their time to be celebrated were some former Springfield College alumni, who were seen donning their personal beanies. To round off the segment, four of the men’s alumni went to work on the parallel bars, displaying great upper body strength by throwing themselves into flips, and of course sticking the landing gracefully. The segment concluded with all four getting on the bar together, and holding themselves vertically above the ground.
Winer Osborne, a graduate on the women’s team, was also honored in the event, as she was presented with her national championship ring. Last spring, at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) championships, Osborne became the first national champion in the uneven bars since 1996 for Springfield with a 9.800 routine. The title-winning score also tied a program-record in the event that was previously set in 2018 by Jess Clemens.
The Springfield College Pride dance team was also a part of the show, adding in their own flare, where they honored female dancers of the past. As the team showcased their ability to mirror one another and amazing transitions, a video was playing of those influential historical dancers.
To end the events portion of the show, the men’s and women’s team came together to put a gymnastics spin on the sport of basketball. With the use of a trampoline, the teams showcased pristine air time en route to some intense, thunderous dunks; including going through their legs and a powerful windmill.
As part of the annual tradition, the home show ends with the paying of respect to the mission of long-time gymnastics head coach Leslie J. Judd. The participants formed many different tableaux, all of which related back to Title IX.
With the event coming to an end, the loudest cheer of all was given, and in less than a full hour, the audience was giving a standing ovation.
“When we decided to do [home show on] Title IX, we knew that it was going to be a challenge, but that we could pull it off; and that it’s gonna be really cool,” Bellin said. “The way that we got the community involved and having those intro videos, what we’ve done that was really, really powerful.”
Photo Courtesy of Springfield College Athletics