Gymnastics team underfunded

Lack of space and equipment


Anna Williams

The first year I joined the gymnastics team at Park was my freshman year. Coming from a club gym that had a reputation for being well-funded, I was astonished when I was introduced to the high school gym. It reminded me of my aunt’s photos of her high school gym in the 80’s, and sure enough, when I compared them side-by-side, it was apparent that our equipment was severely outdated.

Though gymnastics is not the most popular sport at Park, it still is one and deserves recognition. We have a team that has the potential to be great, and as a captain and member of that team, I want that success for future gymnasts. However, our broken equipment and indecent gym can only get us so far. Although we understand that budget cuts and hard financial decisions are a reality at Park, failing to update our gym is a slap in the face to the gymnasts who work hard to combat the challenges we face. It is embarrassing that when competitors come to our gym, we are met with laughter from the gymnasts and mutters from visiting parents. Our team needs a gym that we can be proud of and motivated by.

The first problem with our gym is the space we rent. We currently occupy a gym at Central Community Center. The gym is adequate but very small. The small size of the gym makes it so the events are set up in a way that they are back-to-back — almost on top of each other. Our vault runway is against the wall, so when gymnasts are running on it or tumbling onto the vault, they risk hitting the side of the gym. Our tumble track and bars are directly alongside each other. I have seen countless instances where a gymnast accidentally gets off-center in their rotation and lands on the wires of the bars, blooded by scraping their legs and arms on them. On top of that, the floors are covered in dust, and the walls have water stains all over.

The next problem is the equipment. We were fortunate enough to get a new vault this year, but the rest of the gym remains the same. Though we have had gymnasts’ parents come in and try to tighten them, the bars and beam move when we are on them. It’s hard to feel comfortable trying new skills on an apparatus when it feels unsafe. Once, when I was on the beam, I was trying a back tuck and the apparatus shifted. I fell off but was okay. However, will I be next time? Thankfully, I have never been hurt, but it was scary to know that the equipment I was to use could be responsible for an injury.

Finally, we, the gymnasts, are responsible for setting up our gym for competition. Because our gym is not up to regulation for competition, we have to use the upper gym for the vault and bars. The janitors at Central move the actual vault and bars, but we are responsible for setting up all of the mats. We have to drag the mats through the doors and set them up correctly. We also are required to set up the beam and its mats, pushing the remaining beams to the wall and piling up all of the other mats in our gym. We are responsible for vacuuming the floor, sweeping the rest of the gym, sanitizing the mats, and setting up the judge’s tables. Because of this, to be on time for the competition, we have to leave school early. This entire situation is just not ideal and mostly frustrating. No other team has to rigorously set up for a game or competition in this way.

Gymnastics is not the most popular sport at Park. It does not attract the most fans, and it does not have a student section. However, it is still an amazing sport and deserves recognition because the gymnasts put in the work, and that is shown in our performances. We have a team that has the potential to be great. New girls are coming that will elevate our program and push us up in the conference and even the section. With that, we will need a gym to be confident in— to better and support us.