Woodson Varsity Gymnastics Springs into Season

Zoe Fenner and Annabella Agosto

For most people, the physical and mental efforts required to succeed as a gymnast are unthinkable. On the Woodson gymnastics team, the hours of rigorous practices, the daunting skills, and the physical demands of gymnastics are met with enthusiasm and teamwork. 

Senior Tabitha Campbell, now in her fourth year as a Woodson gymnast, is looking forward to improving her individual skills on the parallel bars, balance beam, and her floor routine this season. Even after feeling “very proud of [her] performance” after her first meet on December 3, she is working on making corrections to her floor routine where she lost points at the last meet. “I’m super optimistic for how the team will do this year,” Campbell says, “everyone is working hard and I can’t wait to hopefully compete at regionals together.” 

Sophomore Isabel Karambelas, a member of the gymnastics team. Photo by Zoe Fenner.

The Woodson gymnastics team practices every day at Lake Braddock High School from 4-6 p.m. alongside both the Annandale and Lake Braddock gymnastics teams. Despite the competition, Campbell assures that they “have such a positive community at all of our practices and competitions,” as “everyone on the three teams is friends with one another and all support each other at our competitions.”

Isabel Karambelas, a sophomore and first-year member of the team, is appreciative of the supportive environment. She says that she enjoys the freedom to hone her skills during practice and to get advice from others. Karambelas says that her “teammates have each added a skill to [the] floor routine” that she will be performing at the West Springfield meet on December 9. 

After her first meet competing for the Woodson Gymnastics Team on December 3, Karambelas is looking forward to improving her skills throughout the season. She is anticipating a success for the team on December 9. Over the course of the 2021-2022 season, Karambelas will be working to “get [her] back handspring on high beam this season,” a daunting feat.

Members of the Woodson Varsity Gymnastics team. Photo courtesy of Tabitha Campbell.

Karambelas also values the motivation and instruction she derives from her coaches Shelby Landay, Mike Cooper, and Erin Fillare. She says that they “give [the team] a lot of pep talks,” and build their athletes up with leadership and caring instruction.

Coach Landay, currently in her fourth year as a coach for the gymnastics team, notes that  “when [her] athletes work hard and it shows at the meet, they get so excited… feeling the same excitement as them that their hard work pays off is a really awesome feeling.” 

Landay adds that the Woodson team in particular “does a great job encouraging other girls on the team and gymnasts from different teams. No matter the skill level, [the] girls are constantly cheering on other athletes.”

Sophomore Polly Muniz, a member of the gymnastics team. Photo by Zoe Fenner.

Polly Muniz, also a sophomore and first-year member of the Woodson gymnastics team, is a competitive cheerleader who decided to join the gymnastics team to spend time and compete with her sister, Isabella. Muniz’s main skill is floor, since she is primarily a cheerleader and hopes to improve her jumps throughout this season.

With the first meet of the 2021-2022 season under her belt, Muniz reflects on how the “first meet is the scariest.” Muniz says that her coaches are encouraging and helped her build confidence after her performance on December 3. She says that all the athletes on the gymnastics team have built friendships that foster enthusiasm and hard work within the gymnastics team.

Muniz, like Campbell and Karambelas, hopes that the team will make it to regionals this season as the team did last year during the 2020-2021 season. Muniz says that the district is very competitive and only the top three teams make it to districts, so it is an “achievement by itself to make it to regionals.”