By Collin Atwood
The long competition drought for the Springfield College women’s gymnastics team ended this past Saturday when the team traveled to Collegeville, Penn. to face off against Ursinus, Ithaca and Cortland. The 686-day hiatus caused by the pandemic is over and the season is officially underway.
The entire 2021 season being canceled still has some lingering effects on the current roster. Not only are the first-year students experiencing collegiate competition for the first time, but so are the sophomores.
“It’s really exciting,” said Naya Robinson, a sophomore studying health science. “The atmosphere is so much different than competing in high school,” she added.
For Robinson, having a season off helped her prepare for college-level competition. She not only missed her first season in college, but COVID-19 cut her high school senior season short as well.
“Gymnastics takes a while for you to get your skills back, so it was nice to kind of ease into it,” she said.
Senior Kaitlyn Lindsay also turned the negative aspects of missing a season into a positive. “It gave us a lot of time to build our skills separately,” Lindsay said.
Currently, 12 out of the 24 student-athletes on the team are either a first-year student or a sophomore. The inexperience on the team has set this year’s focus on growth and learning.
“A good goal for us is just to improve upon every meet. A lot of us don’t really know what to expect because it’s our first season,” Robinson said.
Although the many new members of the team haven’t seen how the other schools compete, the other schools also don’t know about the new members, and have no idea what they are capable of.
“We have a lot of inexperience, but we also have a lot of new faces that are able to contribute that other teams haven’t seen, so I think that can also be beneficial,” Lindsay said.
The newbies were able to step onto the collegiate stage for the first time on Jan. 22, which allowed them to get back into their routine of competing. The Pride finished in third place with a total of 181.7 points.
“It was a lot of getting nerves out of the way,” Lindsay said, “We can only get better from here.”
While the upperclassmen are always learning and growing as well, they are used to this type of competition and have another goal in mind.
“Our goal would be to qualify for nationals. We are hosting the big regional meet where that can happen, so we’re really excited to have that home experience,” Lindsay said.
The regional meet she is referring to is the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association East Regional Championship, which will take place at Springfield College on March 12.
The team may have goals and expectations, but the most important thing is that they have the chance to compete against other schools again. “When we do get to do gymnastics, we have to appreciate that and be grateful for every opportunity,” Lindsay said.
Their next competition is on Saturday, Jan. 29 at Rhode Island College. The team’s first home competition is on Feb. 6 against Yale, Ithaca and Ursinus.
Photo: Jack Margaros