Layers upon layers of blue plastic mats packed the Blake Arena, dusted with used white chalk. A hoop was suspended from the ceiling u-wing , high enough that if one was not to look closely it would be completely missed.
Balance beams, a ring tower, uneven bars and a pommel horse framed the center, which was a blue carpeted spring floor. A buzz of vocal noise echoed through the woodwork of the bleachers, excited sound trickling from the mouths of young students and elderly alumni alike, and into the vivacious energy filling the air. The 109th Annual Springfield College Gymnastics Homeshow was about to get underway.
The show had been advertised all month, themed as “Flipping Through The Channels”. This was a testament to beloved TV shows, such as “Friends”, “Stranger Things”, “The Brady Bunch”, “The Powerpuff Girls”, “SpongeBob SquarePants”, “WWE”, “The Price Is Right” and “Saturday Night Live.”
Each show was segwayed into one another by a comedic couple sitting in the corner of a “room”, commentating on what show they would like to watch next. Then, the giant projected screens strategically placed on either side of the room displayed a clip from the show and the gymnasts would then reenact scenes dressed as characters, dancing and flipping across the springboard to the beats of the infamous theme songs.
First-year gymnast Allison Hughes participated in the “Powerpuff Girls” segment.
“We worked really well together…It’s good to see a team come together and put on this really big show, we put a lot of hard work into it and, coming in as a freshman, I think that it brings the team together rather than just practicing together every day.”
All who were able to participate in a show that is over a century old felt that they were a part of something greater than themselves. The tradition was a big part of what made the gymnastics team come together to display their talent so special to both themselves and to their audience.
The obvious crowd favorite from the whole show was the aforementioned “Stranger Things.” The inconspicuous hoop was lowered down from the ceiling by iron ropes and swaths of flowing fabric cascaded down to touch the floor, allowing for three gymnasts to be truly suspended in the air.
Finally, a collection of gymnasts clothed in skin-tight black leotards contorted their bodies on the floor beneath the skywalkers, adding to the suspense of the entire act. After this particular portion was finished, the entire crowd let out their breath and exploded into applause and cheers.
Norm Boulerice, the men’s volunteer gymnastic coach and Springfield College alumni from the class of 1977, was enthusiastic about the opening night of the event, despite computer difficulties that plagued the beginning.
“I think everybody enjoyed it, and it sounded like the crowd was really behind us…I think it was very well attended,” he said.
Boulerice added that the coaches took a step back and allowed the seniors to plan a lot of the show and some of the acts.
“I thought that this was actually a really good idea at this stage of the game… I think that the kids have a good sense of what works here and [how to use] a lot of the modern technologies to help us.”
The final act was the gorgeous tableau scenes, which consisted of the gymnasts being completely doused in gray shimmery paint to make them seem statue-like. They then created poses at the head of the arena, twisting their bodies and holding themselves perfectly still as illuminative colorful lights flooded their still scene.
Each scene represented a part of the college, such as the academics, athletics, or the core values of spirit, mind, and body.
“They were empowering to everybody around us, and they showed what Springfield’s all about,” Hughes stated.
Photos courtesy of Sam Leventhal