Girls gymnastics perseveres through injuries as a tight knit team

Though a second season during a pandemic did not come without its challenges, they proved to be no match for ETHS girls gymnastics. The team might not have been able to partake in many of its usual traditions due to the Omicron spike, but adjustments were made, and in the end, the season didn’t turn out to be a bad one—just different.

“The season was different than any season I’ve ever experienced before,” says junior Lucy Cline. “We didn’t get to do anything outside of practices as a team, but our captains adapted super well to try to make the season fun.”

While this season definitely ended up being a season like no other, it also has the distinction of being the second season like no other in a row. 

“Last season, we didn’t travel for any meets, and there were no invites. So last year, we only really had dual meets,” says senior Raya Goulding. “I think this year, we were all just grateful that we had more of a regular season and were able to actually have in-person competitions.” 

In fact, the return to in-person competitions proved to be an asset, and especially in Evanston’s signature event: floor. When performing a floor routine, gymnasts flip, jump, tumble, roll and even dance—in fact, floor routines in girls gymnastics are set to music. Because of its fun and even somewhat quirky nature compared to other events like beam and bars, floor naturally lends itself to being the team’s best and favorite event.

“I think floor is the team’s strongest event because a lot of people like it, and we all have our own routines where we get to show off our personalities and put on a show,” says Cline.

Goulding echoes Cline’s sentiment.

“I think floor is probably most people’s favorite event,” says Goulding. “Everyone had awesome floor music and floor routines this year, so it was just a ton of fun to watch the routines and cheer for everybody.”

Indeed, the team refers to itself as “Evanston nastix,” so it’s easy to grasp just the kind of personality that inspires the team’s floor routines.

Though it wasn’t because of a floor routine, Evanston nastix found success in freshman standout Ella Eovaldi, who, after scoring a season-best 8.925 on her beam routine at regionals, advanced to the IHSA State finals. With Eovaldi, the team qualified its first gymnast to State in over 20 years, and its first freshman in over 25.

“Ella accomplished so much this season, and it was awesome to see her hard work pay off,” says Goulding. “Her beam routine at regionals was amazing, and there were some upgrades in her routine that she was doing in competition for the first time this year, and she nailed it.”

Despite the setbacks the team might’ve faced from having to endure yet another pandemic-influenced season, in the end, it was the team’s resilience coupled with the strength of their bond that made it what it was.

“I think that this season the team was really resilient. We had some injuries, and it was our second season with COVID, but everyone really worked hard and didn’t let any of that stop them,” Goulding added.” I think the team was really close this year, and the support that everybody had for each other was awesome.”