As the winter sports season begins, so does an exciting and promising new season for Malden High School’s gymnastics team. Tryouts took during the week of Nov. 29 through Dec. 4, in the Finn gym after school. The team has been working tirelessly to further develop their skills and to teach newcomers what to expect for the season.

Last season had a shorter time frame due to the seemingly endless snow days that caused many meets to be cancelled and difficulties in rescheduling them. However, the spirit, dedication and sportsmanship of the team members was positive and inspired during the difficult winter season. They maintained their commitment and hard work through the challenges they encountered.

Coach Vanessa James explained that “[she] chooses members for the team based on first and foremost their attitude and sportsmanship.” She believes that “to be a part of any team, these two characteristics are a must” because they determine the devotion, dedication and responsibility that of each team member. James also considers the skills the members possess for each event and watches to see if and how they apply the feedback she gives them to improve.

The four events in gymnastics only last for 90 seconds, including the vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise where only six gymnasts can compete at each event. Each gymnast performs a different routine on beam, floor and bars. These routines consist of a combination of required skills and artistic skills. James added, “When both of these skills are put together, they increase the value of the routine.” Each gymnast has the opportunity to perform the vault twice and the scores are averaged together to determine the final score. The four highest scores are added together to make an event score. Then the four event scores are added to make the final team score, which determines who wins the meet.

James’s goals for the team this year are “to make sure that everyone leaves a better gymnast and athlete than they were at the beginning of the season.” But this isn’t to say that “everyone gets a new skill, but maybe that they improved the performance of a particular skill that in turn contributed to the success of the team.”

Seniors Jessica Munroe and Kiley Ruelle take on the leadership as team captains in hopes to lead the team to another GBL title. The team previously won the GBL championships in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and with its positive attitude and strong work ethic, it seems as if they are on the road to another victory.

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