Gymnastics Season During COVID-19

This year has been difficult for everyone due to the Pandemic. It has been very hard deciding whether or not sports should happen. Luckily because gymnastics was considered a low-risk sport it was one of the first sports to come back. The gymnasts began practicing virtually in December which was three weeks before the season started. They did not begin in-person practices until January 13th. The gymnastics team only had three practices per week for two hours each day. Before Covid, they had 5 practices every week and could add more if they felt the need to. This season was shorter than usual as well. 

Gymnastic coach Katie Bowdridge said that this season was different because they were “missing several of [their] gymnasts due to COVID” and some of their parents were not comfortable with them participating, so the team was smaller than usual. This year the gymnastics team had to make more cuts so there were only 15 gymnasts on the team. 

Everyone had to wear their masks in the gym and stay six feet apart. Bowdridge said, “everyone [is] doing a great job keeping their masks on.” If the gymnasts needed a mask break all they had to do was go outside for a little bit and come back after they had a short break. When it was each gymnast’s turn they could take off their masks while competing and put them right back on after. Ronald Batista, one of the three captains, said, “everybody was already mature enough to just carry their own weight.”

Sophomore gymnast Nelson Jiang on the bars at a meet. Photo sent in by Nelson Jiang

The gymnasts used an app called Sway. This app was used for daily check-ins to make sure they did not feel any Covid symptoms. When someone was experiencing symptoms they were advised to stay at home. To ensure everyone's safety at the competitions, they had to make sure everything was sanitized and people were socially distancing. On the bus, they tried not to sit next to anybody in order to prevent passing on the virus. Batista says it was harder at first because everyone wanted to be near each other and “hug the people that [they have not] seen and all of your teammates.” He said that they “all have to have an understanding” because it was to ensure their safety.

COVID also affected their meets. Some meets were cancelled if they could not find judges. Winter storms also affected their season. “Those two [aspects] really did affect [their] season,” said Ronald Batista

To Bowdridge, this experience was “different but it is not difficult.” There were many differences due to Covid. For example, the season was shorter and they had to wear face masks. Batista was “less hopeful” at the beginning of the season because they were missing people and he was worried that the scores would be going down. They ended up doing really well and ended up winning, which to Batista was “a surprise” and it “was pretty awesome.” 

This was Batista’s second time being captain. The captains were decided by vote. To him it felt good because “it felt like the team knew the amount of work [he] was trying to put in and the amount of dedication.” It was an “honor being captain again,” he states.

Bowdridge is “so proud of these kids” because it has been so hard during Covid. Everyone attended all the virtual practices to stretch and condition. They went to practice and they were “working super hard” to get ready for every meet.

Sophomore gymnast Nelson Jiang on the bars at a competition. Photo submitted by Nelson Jiang

Overall they had a really good season. They won more meets than they lost. There were a total of five competitions and they won the last three so they were on a winning streak. The gymnastics team was also in the Greater Boston League. This year they are GBL champs since they won both meets against Medford. Nelson Jiang, a sophomore gymnast on the team, said he “felt bad” for the other teams because “the other teams that [they] won against barely had anyone. [Other teams] had four people or two people and [they] had 15.”

Batista wanted to congratulate the coaches. He thinks that the “coaches did a really good job this year with all the covid restrictions.” They had to make sure everybody there was safe and Covid made it even harder but they made sure everyone was keeping their distance and staying safe.

Chaimaa Assli

Chaimaa Assli is a sophomore at Malden High school who joined The Blue and gold her freshman year because she wanted to try something new. She has a taste for photography and editing pictures. She played for the junior varsity basketball team and hopes to make it to the varsity team next year. Outside of school she and her family love soccer, and they like to play it together. She says that she and her siblings are just the average brothers and sisters who like to play fight and have fun with each other. She also likes to paint.

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