Certain skills are assigned starting values based on difficulty and then scored from there. (A gymnast who performs a most basic routine flawlessly might score a 7, while an ambitious performer with sophisticated tricks could post a much higher number even with a few minor slip-ups.)
The sport “has such a potential for personal growth,” said Whitman Coach Paul Belliveau, who also helped re-form the team at Blair in 2002. “Regardless of skill level, everyone has the same opportunity to work hard and have that moment they can feel good about.”
(Doug Kapustin/FOR THE WASHINGTON POST) - Blake All-Met Brittany Atkins splits time between her club and high school teams.
As a local gymnast in the early 1990s, Umme Beasley focused on the club circuit, landing a scholarship to West Virginia University. But after coaching Severna Park to two Anne Arundel County titles in the past three seasons, she understands the benefits of high school competition.
Beasley said the Falcons asked for the chance to raise money for new equipment and several local clubs offered free gym time for practice, but it wasn’t enough to overturn the county’s decision.
“Not everybody can really afford to be a gymnast with a club team,” said Beasley, now an assistant at Rutgers University. “High school teams give a chance to compete, to feel that team environment, that might not be there otherwise.”
Whitman’s example stands as a testament to the passion necessary to keep the sport alive. Buxbaum started out needing to make a list of 30 interested girls at her school. She secured Paul Belliveau as coach and then a promise for used equipment from local clubs.
When told new equipment was necessary, she helped mobilize fundraising efforts to cover the three major pieces required — a balance beam, a vault and uneven bars. With help from the school’s athletic boosters and athletic department, the team came up with the roughly $20,000 needed.
The Vikings finished fifth at last season’s county meet and took another step forward this spring, hosting their first home meet in more than a decade.
“You can see the support so much better now,” Buxbaum said. “It’s a completely different type of pressure when you see your friends watching as opposed to just your family and your coaches” at club meets.