What’s Next for UC Gymnastics?

Ava Compagnoni (avcompagnoni@ursinus.edu)

Before COVID-19, the UC Gymnastics Team was excelling in its winter season, finishing out the regular season with a team tally of 185.775 against Temple. Unluckily, they did not have a chance to show off their skills at the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association East Region Championship. Still, the girls continued to keep their skills tuned up over the summer, safely and diligently, before coming back to campus to work on their training. 

Following the transition to remote and the end of the regular season, three gymnasts were recognized as regular season All-Americans by the NCGA: Skylar Haas for beam, Kaylin Knapsack for floor, and Alex Panetta for bars. These athletes compiled a season-average score that ranked in the top-four of the East Region in their respective events. Both in and out of the gym, the team’s members excelled for the Fall 2020 semester with their team average GPA at 3.42, including nine members of the team making Dean’s List. 

There were three new additions to the team this year, including freshman Elisabeth Tucker who came all the way from Massachusetts because of the opportunity she had to be a member of the UC Gymnastics Team. For her and the other Class of 2024 freshmen, this past fall was a unique experience of getting to know each other and adapt to Ursinus and new teammates. “My first semester was unique and challenging with COVID guidelines, but the team made the transition to college life really easy! My teammates are amazing and fall training went very well with what we could work with given the circumstances.” says Tucker. Not only were her teammates welcoming and high energy, but the UC Gymnastics coaches are the backbone of the amazing team dynamic that allows UC to have such a highly talented group of gymnasts. “Coach Kim and India are amazing, they are so supportive of everyone, always encouraging us, they do not sweat the small stuff and will always be there to back us up,” says Tucker. 

Alex Panetta, a shining uneven bar asset for the team last season, stood out in her rookie season. In her debut meet she scored a 9.175 on bars and by the end of the season she scored a career best of 9.750 against Kent State. At every meet, the entire team surrounds their teammate when it is time to compete, cheering and clapping to make sure they know they are there supporting her. “Something I loved about last season was the overwhelming amount of love and encouragement. During our season there were always other athletes at our home meets and lots of family and friends. Having a great support system surrounding our team was a great feeling to have,” says Panetta. The Helferich Gym was crowded when it came time for UC Gymnastics to perform. Back in their practice gym this semester, COVID-friendly training resumed. Without a season it is difficult to stay motivated, but the team remains optimistic. “My team and I are very excited to be able to start training again. After a little time off, it may be hard to come back, but as a team we are willing to put in time, effort and support for each other, in and outside the gym, so we can come back even stronger for next season,” says Panetta. 

The team has four seniors graduating this year, and while this is not what they expected, they recall all of the amazing memories of their UC Gymnastics experience. Danielle Terrenzio, an all-around member, has seen her team, both past and present, progress tremendously from when she was a freshman. The growth has made her collegiate experience worthwhile. “Since my freshman year, we got a new head coach my sophomore year and we got a new assistant coach my junior year, and together they have worked really hard to grow the program both in skill level and the culture of the program. They have recruited some amazing gymnasts to help progress our scores and skills,” says Terrenzio. Together as a team they have grown together outside of the gym as well, “We volunteer in the community, support other UC athletic teams, and have important conversations about current trends and important topics to focus on bettering the community that we work in,” says Terrenzio. 

With the first week of practice already underway for UCG, we cannot wait to see the skills they come up with next. Go Bears!