Gymnastics team leaps into its third year with high hopes

Hilda Huang, Staff Writer

Sept. 17 is National Gymnastics Day, but Palo Alto High School’s gymnasts won’t be stepping on the floor just yet.

This year, co-captains Sophie Jorasch (’12) and Sarah Miller (’12) will lead the Paly’s girls gymnastics team into its third season in the spring of 2012. After a successful season during the 2010-2011, with Jorasch qualifying for the Central Coast Section Championships as an all-around gymnast and Miller qualifying on certain apparatuses, the team hopes to keep on expanding both its JV and Varsity squads.

“[2010-2011] was a really big growing year,” Miller said. “We went from having five [girls] in 2010 to 18 last year. It was good to get more Paly students out and competing.”

The strong gymnasts at the JV level also look encouraging for the future of the Varsity squad.

“A couple of the girls ended up competing all-around, which is really difficult at the JV level,” head coach Ericka Fusilero said. “There are nine or ten JV teams [in the league] and [for Paly] to end up fourth or fifth in their first year – that says a lot.”

Last season, the Varsity squad consisted only of Jorasch and Miller, but with no seniors graduating and with more gymnasts joining the team, Miller contends that they have great potential.

“We did well [last season] but also left ourselves room for improvement,” she said.

Since only two girls were on the Varsity squad last year, it did not qualify as a team.

“You have to have a minimum of four scores to make a team, so the goal this year is to actually make a Varsity team,” Fusilero said.

Because of gymnastics’ nature as both an individual and team sport, much like that of swimming, perhaps the mere addition of girls to the team will improve team scores.

But, “if each person just did better than they did [last season], that’s going to be a victory for us,” Miller said.

“I hope we’ll have more team support, because a lot of people were unable to attend the meets,” Noa Braun (’14) said.

Jorasch and Miller also helped the budding JV squad, according to Braun. “I think they did a great job at keeping team morale,” she said. “They got everyone fairly prepared, as much as they could.”

Because Paly Cheer is active in the fall and winter seasons, most of the cheerleading gymnasts won’t step onto the gym floor until Dec. or Jan.

“We’re about half [cheerleaders] and half [non-cheerleaders] now,” Miller said. For now, the cheerleaders are busy practicing their tumbling and dance skills on campus. According to Fusilero, being in cheerleading has helped many of the girls in their acrobatic skills, but Miller said there’s more.

“The biggest thing that cheer has helped with in gym is that we have a lot of school spirit, which has made [gym] more fun,” she said.

In any case, the fun and school spirit will only lead the gymnasts in the right direction for next season. “We have really high hopes but are just looking to do the best we can,” Miller said.

The Paly Girls’ Gymnastics Team is currently accepting new members. To sign up, contact Sarah Miller or Ericka Fusilero at the Twisters Sports Center. Visit http://twisterssportscenter.com/gymnastics.htm for more information on its high school gymnastics program.