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Fantastic gymnastics at BEA
December 3, 2017

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The Blue Earth Area Gymnastics team is already prepared for a season of success. With a new coach, last year's assistant coach Rachel Cole stepping up to the forefront, and new assistant coach, LaNay (Walker) Hervey, the BEA gymnastics team is ready to hit the floor (and beam, and bars, and pole vault) running.

This year, the two seniors Justina Gaydon and Melissa Hagedorn will be teaming up with junior Katie Allis as team captains.

And, with three newcomers to the team this year, Cole says she is looking to the captains to take strong leadership in guiding their new teammates.

"Eighth grader Liz Beeler, and seventh graders Haley Kalis and Adrianna Reddick are our newcomers," says Cole. "This early in the season, it is hard to tell where exactly they will fall in our lineup but they will all be ones to watch for this season."

Cole says one of the main strengths, and differences this year, is that she has already seen established leadership in the team.

"Last year, the team struggled a little with leadership, as we didn't have any seniors on the team and we didn't have anyone comfortable with stepping into that leadership role. This season, the captains, as well as the rest of the team, have really stepped up in their leadership and are always helping to keep practice moving."

The head coach says she also sees the group of returning gymnasts as a gigantic strength for the team, stating it helps to have experience under their belt. This season, BEA?will have 17 girls, with 14 returning from last year.

Cole says she is hoping to see consistency from the two seniors, and captains, this year.

"Justina excels on floor and beam. I would like to see her grow on bars. She got a new skill for the first time on bars last year at the section meet and I expect to see her bar score improve this season," says the head coach. "Melissa excels on all events. I'd like to be able to see her grow on bars more, as well. She, too, has been working on a new skill on bars and I'd like to see her perfect it and add a few other new skills to increase her start value."

Cole, herself, was a BEA gymnast. She started gymnastics in early elementary school. She went to TNT Gymnastics in Fairmont and by third grade, was participating on the traveling competition team and started on the high school gymnastics program at BEA as a seventh grader. She competed with BEA all throughout her high school career.

Her first coaching experience came a few years later, after high school, when former BEA head coach and owner of the Blue Earth Gymnastics Center, Sandy Oswald, got hold of Cole and asked her to coach a team of elementary girls.

"I did that for one year and, after struggling to fit my college courses in on top of traveling back and forth to Blue Earth, I decided the time wasn't right," says Cole. "Two years ago, I?ran into Merissa Lore who was the head coach at the time and she asked if I'd be interested in coaching. So, last season was my first year coaching at the high school level as the assistant coach."

And she flourished. So much so that Lore was comfortable enough to step down as the head coach to focus her attention on her family and career.

"Rachel and I were teammates in high school. She was a wonderful addition to the team last year as assistant coach. She has a lot of knowledge in the sport and is clearly passionate about it," says Lore of the new coach. "Loving the sport is very important in coaching. She will be a good leader for the girls. She is organized and consistent. I wish them all the best of luck this year."

The new coach says her main focus this year will be cleaning up routines pointing toes, straightening legs, jumping higher, and working to make BEA's routines look elegant and fun to watch.

"We are also focusing on being consistent staying on the beam and hitting all of our routines. In terms of events, we are focusing on improving our bar scores, which we struggled with last year," says the head coach.

Cole explains her theory on the decline in gymnastics team members, not only in BEA, but in the sport in general.

"I think there are lower numbers in gymnastics than other sports because girls feel like they can't go out for gymnastics if they have not had prior club experience. It is a difficult sport to jump in and pick up," Cole admits. "However, we have a number of girls on our team Amarrah Harris, Destiny Massey, Aubrey Nagel and SunShine Wight with no prior gymnastics experience join the team last year and some of them had the opportunity to compete on varsity."

Cole says having a smaller team can make it difficult to fill a full lineup in the event that someone is injured, but it can also be beneficial because it allows more one on one time with the coaches during practices.

Also returning this season are juniors Hayley Jahnke, Arianna Nagel and Izzy Walker, sophomore Sydney Blagg, freshman Mari Curi, and eighth grader Jazmyn Lunz.

"The conference and section are both looking strong again this year," says Cole. "But we've got girls working on some new skills, so I hope to see at least a couple of them make the all-conference team this year and maybe even have a state qualifier."

Only time will tell for the BEA gymnasts and their new coaches.

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