Flips and turns, and ups and downs: South gymnastics finishes their season strong


Seward eighth grader and gymnast for South, Ellie Barnett-Cashman, does a handstand during her floor routine at the Section 6AA Finals. At the final meet of the season South scored 116.925 points and came in 7th place. Gymnastics is a very physically demanding sport that requires full body effort. Several of South’s gymnasts feel that they receive less attention in comparison to other sports.

Madeline Mahoney, Staff Writer

Have you ever attended a South gymnastics competition? Probably not, in fact, a lot of students don’t even realize we have a gymnastics team. Gymnastics is very physically demanding but it doesn’t receive as much attention as other sports teams at South. Sophomore Bo Coultrip, who has been a gymnast since age four, said: “[Gymnastics takes] muscles, you really gotta want it, you really gotta train… it’s really demanding.”

South has a combined team with Minneapolis High Schools Roosevelt, Henry and Edison. Their coach, Gabrielle Stickney, explained that gymnastics is both a team and an individual sport. The gymnasts compete in four events: floor, beam, vault and uneven bars. “The floor routine has to be a minute to a minute and a half long with music… it has three tumbling passes and then there are other elements like a full turn,” Stickney described. Floor is the most similar to dance as the gymnasts must coordinate their performance with the music. The next event is the balance beam, which is a series of tumbling acts performed on a beam four feet off the ground.

The gymnasts must also perform two tumbling skills back to back, as well as jumps and turns. Stickney explained, “they need to show that they can balance.” Vault is the quickest event. This is where the gymnasts run down the runway to a springboard and then land on the other side, usually while adding something such as a front handspring. Stickney also mentioned that gymnasts have the chance to display their power and strength while vaulting. Finally, the last event is the uneven bars. Here the gymnasts present anywhere from five to twelve skills. These skills may include things as difficult as doing a handstand on the high bar. At the competitions gymnasts are scored out of ten points for each event that they participate in.

Gymnastics requires flexibility, strength and endurance. Many of South’s gymnasts emphasize the full body effort of gymnastics which separates it from other sports. Seward Montessori eighth-grader and gymnast for South’s team, Ellie Barnett-Cashman, said, “in gymnastics it’s kind of not like other sports in the way that you use all of the muscles on your body… you have to be strong everywhere.”

Being on the team also requires a lot of commitment. South’s gymnastics team trains five days a week, including Saturday. This adds up to about 12 hours every week. (And that isn’t even counting competitions!) At each practice the team has to warm up, condition, stretch and work on the four events.

Gymnastics is known to be very harsh on the body. “You are constantly landing and putting pressure on the joints… they ask you to twist and flex in many ways that most people usually don’t,” said Coultrip. According to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), gymnasts just as prone to injuries as those in contact sports (football, hockey, etc.). “Between 1990 and 2005, an estimated 425,900 children from 6 to 17 years of age were treated for gymnastics-related injuries in U.S. emergency departments,” says the ACEP. Stickney said, “there can be a lot of injuries, unfortunately towards the end of the season is when you find more injuries. We get a lot of shin splints, backs are bothering the girls, knees are bothering the girls. Because it is so demanding with the way you land in certain events… injuries are very high but if they know how to work it, they can get through it.”

Many gymnasts at South feel that they are not recognized as much as other sports. “I’ve heard some people say that it [gymnastics] isn’t a sport,” sophomore gymnast Mikayla Barnes said. Many of the gymnasts also feel that their competitions receive less attention. Coultrip exclaimed, “nobody comes to our meets, nobody knows South has a gymnastics team!” Because of the equipment needed to practice, South’s gymnastics team practices in a gym located in North Minneapolis. This is not only inconvenient for the student gymnasts but also for those who would like to watch them. Both Coultrip and Barnett-Cashman feel that the location contributes to the lack of students attending. “Most of the games kids come to are at South, but we can’t use this gym because you can’t really move a vault,” said Coultrip. Barnes added that, “at school they focus more on basketball and football, we barely get announced at lunch.”

South’s gymnastics team is quite impressive. According to Coultrip, “we work a lot harder than the other teams…we practice a lot more and we put in a lot more effort.” Their hard work has paid off. The team has been doing very well this season, placing 2nd in the city. Captain Sophie Truen recently won the Minneapolis All City meet with 34.25 points. The team finished off the season with 7th place and 116.925 points at the Section 6AA Finals. They also won the All Section Academic Award with an average GPA of 3.90. Athletic Department Secretary, Lynn Heldt said, “they’re very good, very bright, very dedicated students.”