Woodson Gymnastics Team Aims to Outshine COVID-19

In shimmering leotards, matching hairstyles and, new this year, masks, the Woodson Gymnastics Team is ready to start their meet. 

“When we get to the meet, all of the teams there do an open stretch, separately, and we warm up our events after that,” said senior Olivia Gamber. “I have had to get used to wearing a mask 90 percent of the time during practices and meets.”

Covid-19 has impacted how the team practices and competes because of masks and restrictions on the amount of people that can be in different rooms at a time. However, they were still able to hold tryouts in December and have been competing since.

“The biggest difference for me was starting after not really doing anything for quite a bit,” said junior Bella Muniz. “I had to get back

With everyone masked, gymnastics can go on as planned. Photo courtesy of Coach Shelby Landay.

into it really fast.” However, she remarked that it “actually wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”

Woodson gymnasts practice two hours a day, five days a week, along with any outside practice they might have for club teams. The coaches want gymnasts to be trained to compete in at least two events; they can choose from the floor, balance beam, vault and bars. Some of the gymnasts compete “all-around” in every event, while others only focus on a few. 

“We try to have everyone at least compete in one or two events every meet,” said Woodson Gymnastics coach Shelby Landay. The team can send in six gymnasts to compete on every event, which generally allows each gymnast to compete at least once a meet.

The gymnasts spend a lot of time practicing their routines to get them as near-perfect as possible before a meet. However, gymnastics is an extremely physically taxing sport, especially if gymnasts compete on both high school and club teams, so the team members have had to battle some injuries. 

Gamber was recovering from an injury this year, which limited her, but she still had a fun season. “I competed vault for the first time this year,” she said, “and it is now my favorite event.” 

Despite the complications brought about by Covid-19, the Woodson Gymnastics Team was able to have a successful season. “They did great at districts, and then they as a team made it to regionals,” said Coach Landay, “then two of the girls, Jill… made it to states on two events, and then Ava… made it to states as an all around gymnast.” 

Senior Jill Brennan had spent her first three years in high school dealing with injuries that held her back, but this year, freed from her injuries, she was able to qualify for the state competition. “I am super excited that I made it to states,” Brennan said. “This year was my best chance of going and my coaches and I are so happy I am getting the chance to go, despite Covid.”

Brennan made it to states for the floor and balance beam, which she continued to practice for up until the state meet. “She did really well at regionals,” said Coach Landay, “so really it’s just if she can perfect it as well at state as she did at regionals.” At the state meet, Brennan tied for second on the balance beam. 

Even though gymnasts compete individually, gymnastics is a team sport, and the Woodson team is clearly quite supportive of one another. While the gymnasts cannot have their usual team sleepovers or dinners, the team has still managed to foster a sense of community and friendship this year.

 “My favorite part of being on the team is being so close to all of my teammates and coaches,” said Brennan. “Everyone is super friendly and we all support and help each other.”