By Carley Crain
The men’s gymnastics team has been preparing for its first-ever virtual season this winter. While competition will be very different, the opportunity to compete again and wear ‘THE Jersey’ is very exciting and encouraging for gymnasts at Springfield.
For the men’s gymnastics team this season, most of their meets will be done on Virtitus, which is an online competition software created by Stanford Alum to provide the NCAA and GymACT the ability to compete virtually from their respective gyms.
Springfield gymnasts will stream their routines from Blake Arena. Numerous cameras at specific angles will be placed in the gym so the judges can give accurate scores and each team will have an in-person referee to ensure all competition rules are followed. All the scores from these meets will contribute to conference and national qualifying marks.
With most of the competition being held virtually, Springfield will have the opportunity to compete against schools they usually don’t match up against – including Stanford University and the University of California at Berkeley.
With Springfield being the only Division III men’s gymnastics team in the country, athletes have the opportunity this season to compete against some of the best college gymnasts from big Div. I schools. With this new challenge, the team has taken a different approach to preparing for the upcoming season.
“For the virtual season, I am definitely most excited about getting the chance to compete against teams we would traditionally not be able to compete against. It gives us the chance to not only try something new but gives us the opportunity to go against different teams,” said sophomore Billy Welsby.
Instead of a two-month time frame to practice and prepare routines for the competition season, Springfield gymnasts only had three weeks this year. The team also is split into two separate groups for practice. Consistent training has been a challenge because of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Some athletes were able to practice at their home gyms during winter break, while others were not able to go to their gyms at all. With the different levels of preparation for each individual athlete, the approach this season is to start out by competing with more basic routines, gradually build after each meet, and to be in the best shape by the postseason.
“We are just going to keep working through each meet and continue to make improvements. That is where we are at as a team and the guys are just so excited to have something semi-normal and to get out there and compete,” said head coach Matt Davis.
This year, the team is heavily relying on a strong versatile first-year class and a reliable group of seniors. After graduating All-American Stephen Lewis, the Pride has many underclassmen who will help lead the team to its goal of qualifying for the NCAA championships.
Sophomore Dominic Romalho and senior Trevor Lamberton are two returning All-Americans who specialize in the all-around. Senior John Murphy is another returning All-American in the floor exercise that brings great experience and leadership skills to the Pride this season.
“The first-years are coming in and they don’t even know what it is like yet which means I have to keep my spirits up to help encourage a positive and motivating team environment,” said Welsby. “We have to be ready and prepared for when we are called to action.”
Davis continued, “Every year we look to continue to build the program from previous years, increasing our difficulty score and working on the little things in the gym. We always have short-term goals that relate to meet building and getting better with the scores…but we also have long-term goals that are placing high in the ECAC conference championships and making the NCAA championships as a team. The long term goals we have every year have not really shifted.”
The ability to compete this season while many other team’s seasons were canceled has the Pride very excited and motivated, despite most meets being virtual. The Pride will compete in its first virtual meet of the season against the University of California at Berkeley this Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Blake Arena. Streaming information can be found on the Springfield Athletics website.
Photo: Gabby Guerard