Gymnastics team secures head coach, springing their season into action


Photo by Lizzie Kotlove

Senior Enia Dagnese practices her bar routine. The WJ gymnastics team has been preparing for their competition season.

After confusion of who would coach the 2023 season of gymnastics, alumni Julia Manolo has stepped into the role of head coach and is currently leading the freshly formed group of 17 girls. The team is preparing for their upcoming competitions and plan to include several shifts this year in order to have a successful and fulfilling season.

Manolo assisted with cheer in the fall as well as last year’s season of gymnastics. She has already established familiarity with several members on the team and is working heavily with the student captains to emphasize collaboration as the key theme of the season.

Seniors Sydney Akpebu and Lizzie Kotlove will lead the team as captains, along with their co-captains, senior Gigi Relacion and junior Marygrace Jackson. Individual progression, focus and organization is a priority for the team.

“We are focusing a lot more on conditioning and improving the efficiency of our practices,” Akpebu said.

The practice schedule this year is every Wednesday and Thursday. These three hour long practices entail the set-up processes of the four main gymnastics events: floor, bar, beam and vault. Time is dedicated to constructing, executing and perfecting their routines and skills for each event. Practices are crucial, as there’s a fast turnaround for their season and weekly meet schedule.

“Our coach splits us up for each event. Normally, we spend around 30 minutes at the event and work on our routines. At the last hour of practice we condition and take down all the equipment,” Jackson said.

Skill-building and technique are important to gymnastics, but team bonding and support are also crucial for maintaining a positive gym environment.

“Gymnastics is technically an individual sport but the team environment at WJ really doesn’t make it seem anything like an individual sport. Everyone cheers each other on,” freshman Shoshana Berger said.

The 2023 team may be smaller than in years past, but there is still strong cohesiveness. Although the gymnasts will compete individually, the team will navigate the competition season together.

“I am really excited for the competitions coming up and getting closer with my teammates,” Jackson said.