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Golden Eagles hope to bring home gold

Tue, Mar 28th 2017 07:00 pm
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communication via Flickr.com
Photos courtesy of Brockport Athletic Communication via Flickr.com

 We all have that one goal we work it toward all year in hopes of achieving and for sports teams everywhere it normally is the highest level competition they have the opportunity to perform at and it ends with their team bringing home the gold. It is no different for The College at Brockport women's gymnastics team. The National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championships is endgame for the Golden Eagles and the journey to make it to this point has been nothing less than remarkable.

With a team history of astounding success this year's group of gymnasts had the responsibility of carrying on the tradition of bringing their A-game to each and every meet. The emotion, the skill, the spark of adrenaline that is activated when you have to flip through the air and land on a four inch-wide piece of suede covered wood: all of this comes as easy as breathing for the 29 women who have brought Brockport to the point of competing in the NCGA Championships.

"We are at our peak at this point in the season," senior gymnast Marla Thomas wrote. "Our goal for the season was to place top three at regionals and qualify for Nationals so winning regionals was icing on the cake for the regular season. My expectation for nationals is for us, as a team, to remember everything we have endured this season and overcome and remember to compete for each other and for [Head Coach John] Feeney. As of now we have done everything we can and I really just want us to go out there show off what we've got, have fun, and give it all we have because whatever happens, happens, and in the end we'll know we put our whole hearts into it."

The team has proven with its overall conference score of 14 - 5 that it has more than enough talent to bring it from the moment it enters the University of Wisconsin-Stout's facility until the moment it leaves, ideally, bringing the championship title home with it. After coming out of NCGA Regionals with a win that cast them ahead of the second place team, Ursinus College, by a full two points earned by the Golden Eagles receiving higher scores in every area besides beam over the course of the day-long competition.

There is no doubt the gymnasts have a reason to be more than optimistic going into the championships. However in preparation for the season finale the team is making sure it doesn't get too ahead of itself and is balancing focus and fun as senior gymnasts, like Thomas, soak up their last weeks as members of this team.

"Honestly my reaction [that the team was headed for nationals] was nothing but proud," Thomas wrote. "This team fought its way to the top. The journey at regionals wasn't the best or the easiest but it is one I will never forget. The opportunity we had to take home the gold and qualify for nationals in our home gym was really the best way to put an exclamation mark on my senior year!"

The environment at any big sporting event is electric. As soon as teams step off the bus they can smell the competition in the air. The Golden Eagles will be competing against teams they have finished only tenths apart from for years. Just like in any sport, in gymnastics, each team has its respective rivals, the teams they know will be sure to bring it the hardest and be the most difficult to beat. One way to counteract the nerves is for the gymnasts to go through their pre-event routines like they always do.

"I change into my flip flops that I wear every meet, listen to music, and drink as much water as possible. I do the same thing before every meet, everyone is pretty superstitious," junior gymnast Bridgette Schaal wrote about her own.

With the weight of having been so close to winning but not quite there at last year's championship performance the team is hoping to give 110 percent in all areas: vault, bars, beam and floor beginning this coming Friday, March 31, the first day of championship competition, until the end of the day Saturday, April 1, when the new NCGA Champion will be known.

Even after Saturday, the team is not looking to break its determination to find success for years to come. There will be five seniors graduating but for the rest of the team preparing for next year's journey to the championships will already be underway. Welcoming the new recruits and celebrating the end to an impressive season will also be on the agenda as well.



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Taken by Vincent Croce:
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