(Graphic by Mary Petersen)

Graphic by Mary Petersen

Girls’ Gymnastics co-ops with DGS team

October 23, 2019

DGN’s girls’ gymnastics program faces challenges in the coming season with the retirement of two of its three coaches. The lack of coaching staff and gym space led athletic director Denise Kavanaugh to create a co-op program with DGS. 

Both the girls’ and boys’ programs at DGN were left without facilities at the end of the 2018-2019 school year, as all equipment was removed from DGN’s gymnastics gym and space was converted into a receiving dock.

The girls’ team will remain a co-op program and use DGS’s facilities and coaching staff for two seasons, returning to an exclusively DGN team during the 2021-2022 season according to Kavanaugh. Upon its return to DGN, the program will have an updated gymnastics loft.

The new team with DGS means restructuring the roster.

“The co-op should not impact the numbers of either team. Last season there were a total of 43 girls in the district in gymnastics. This year we will be keeping a total of 40 girls,” DGS varsity girls’ gymnastics coach Kristyn Campos said.

Gymnast senior Janae Small does not plan to try out for the team, and said that the number of DGN gymnasts trying out is projected to decrease from 35-40 last season to less than 10 this season. 

“There are so few of us going out because we either think that the co-op is pointless or that it wouldn’t be as fun,” Small said. 

Small and fellow gymnast senior Lauren Lucina share the opinion that resorting to a co-op program was, at one point, avoidable. 

“I understand that everyone tried to find us a coach and keep gymnastics at North, but I do believe that the process could have been started sooner,” Lauren Lucina said. “Once our coaches decided to retire, I think that the job application should have been posted right away.” 

Kavanaugh received the resignations of varsity coach Linda Reynolds and JV1 coach Sarah Farinella Feb. 14, as both women had reached retirement age. The hiring process began March 2019. 

Several DGN gymnasts and parents attended a school board meeting Sept.16 to voice their frustrations. Susan Lucina, mother of Lauren Lucina, expressed concerns about the actions of DGN’s Athletic Office. 

“We feel like the athletic director is not directing the gymnastics, so we feel that she’s just dropped the ball. She’s only concentrating on the more public sports,” Susan Lucina said at the board meeting.

Kavanaugh believes a co-op is the best option for the program moving forward. 

“The options available were thoroughly analyzed. Administrators from District 99 had many discussions on what was best for all of our student-gymnasts. The decision to co-op gave our students the best coaches to provide excellent training in the safest environment,” Kavanaugh said. 

Small is concerned that the lack of participation over the next two seasons will make a split back into two separate programs unlikely. 

I would say that the major concern is how so few people are doing it, and how we’re going to get those numbers back up when it returns [to DGN]  in a few years,” Small said. 

With all coaches returning to the program, DGN’s boys’ gymnastics team will not co-op with DGS, and will use DGS gym space for practices. All meets scheduled are to be hosted by other schools due to construction. 

Kavanaugh focuses on coaching staff looking to the future.

“It is realistic [to split back to a DGN team] if qualified coaches are found in the future and there are enough student-athletes interested,” Kavanaugh said. 

Girls’ tryouts are Nov. 11.

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