Chalk Up!

In their fourth year, Shaker Heights gymnasts are hoping for more recognition


Carlos Beccerra

The Shaker Heights High School Gymnastics team. From left to right: freshman Marissa Milgram, senior Olivia Schumacher, senior Diana Martins, senior Sam Sekeres, junior Kyla Taress, sophomore Caroline Connell

The gymnastics team is one of the newer sports teams at the high school. In 2018, three freshmen, now seniors, wanted a less intense gymnastics program than their club team. The team has grown to eight girls, most of which are experienced gymnasts. 

The team prides itself on the welcoming dynamic. Marissa Milgram is one of  two freshmen on the team. “I have the best upperclassmen to help me and show me what to do,” she wrote. “I have made some of my best friends through the HS gymnastics team.”

The team meets three times a week, with competitions roughly once a week. Junior Kyla Taress wants prospective gymnasts to be ready for challenging practices. “My advice for someone who wants to join the team, is to just be prepared for the long practices and conditioning that may be more challenging than something you’ve ever done,” she wrote. 

Although practices are difficult, students with a range of experience are encouraged to join. “You can join the team with any level of experience and grow from there with the help of our coaches,” Taress wrote. 

The girls who started the team in 2018, Sam Sekeres, Olivia Schumacher, and Patricia O’Neill faced issues, the biggest of them being time constraints. The girls decided to start the team in September, leaving only a couple months before the start of the season in December. “We were on a time crunch to figure out coaching, practice schedule, uniforms, and what meets we would be competing in,” Senior Sam Sekeres said. 

During the first couple seasons, practices were held at Jumpstart Gymnastics, alongside the competitive club team. “Now we have our own practice and coach,” Senior Olivia Schumacher wrote.

When on a club team, gymnasts are required to compete in all four events: bars, vault, beam, and floor. Performances are individually based and scored. On the high school team, scores are team based, and an individual doesn’t have to compete in all four events.

This form of training relieves stress for a lot of the gymnasts, especially for ones who don’t like certain events. Senior Diana Martins hated competing in bars as a club gymnast, and it contributed to the reason she quit the club team. She joined the high school team as a freshman. “When I joined the high school team it was so much more enjoyable because I didn’t even have to think about bars,” she wrote.

Now that the high school team is established, many of the team gymnasts are hoping for more spectators at their competitions. Taress wrote, “We have really experienced gymnasts and it would be great for the team to get more attention, it’s a fun sport to watch!”

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