Gymnastics sticks landing during unique COVID-19 season

Lena Papa, Staff Writer

COVID-19 brought a complete stop to sports for many months. For some sports, like baseball or basketball, you could just go to a local park to stay fresh. However, other sports, like gymnastics, had more obstacles to tackle when staying in shape during the off season. Since gymnastics requires specific equipment that is not easily accessible it was hard for them to train during the offseason, which led to a remarkably unique transition back into competition.

“Shaking the rust off was no easy task. Gymnastics is a demanding sport, requiring year round effort to stay fresh. Our gymnasts did an amazing job of working out as much as they could during the break to help stave off any rust. Unfortunately, this meant when we were finally able to get back in the gym we had to take things slow,” coach Michael Spevack said, who has taken over this year for Meghan Koons.

Not only is gymnastics demanding physically, but it also requires mental toughness and fortitude. For many gymnasts, having the support of their team, especially during hard times, is what keeps them motivated. In order to preserve this group mentality, Spevack leads team Zooms two or three times a week.

“It kept all of us in communication and helped lift spirits during a very difficult time for all involved. As much as gymnastics is important, feeling like you still belong to a team when you can’t be around everyone was important to us,” Spevack said.

Once it was declared safe for gymnastics to return, practices looked much different than they did before the pandemic. Usually all of the gymnasts would be in the gym at the same time; during the pandemic, they elected to use a pod set up, which meant only 13 gymnasts could be in the gym at one time. They also had to follow strict cleaning and social distancing protocols.

“We used several air filters in the gym at all times. There was no sharing of chalk [used on several events on the hand or feet], water or even the seats during practice. We ensured that every event was properly cleaned and disinfected between pods as well. Hand sanitizer was also used with regularity,” Spevack explained.

The team is now on the back half of their season with only two meets left to go. Even though the competitions are very different than they were pre-COVID, it is still so crucial for an athlete to compete.

“I was most looking forward to giving these hard-working and dedicated gymnasts the ability to do what they do best: compete.” Spevack said.

COVID-19 stopped the world completely. Athletes around the world realized that they needed to work harder to build their skills despite the harsh conditions. ETHS gymnastics used resources provided to them to ensure that they stayed competitive.