Photo by Annie Lomshek
Due to low numbers for gymnastics teams district-wide, the SMSD came close to canceling the program for the 2017-18 school year.
The gymnastics teams from around the district came together at Shawnee Mission West for a clinic open to elementary school through middle school students on Oct. 29. The purpose of the clinic was to have enough participants to prove to the district that the program should continue to be a sport in high school.
Due to the high participation in the clinic, the district has decided to keep the program for the 2017-18 school year. As families and gymnasts came together in an effort to save their favored sport in high school, the district recognized the impact of the sport, and realized it was worth saving for the time being.
When deciding whether or not to keep the sport in previous years, the district looked at the numbers of participants in the program, losing quality coaches and lack of schools offering gymnastics programs in the state of Kansas.
Olathe initially brought up the discussion of canceling their program this year. Since the state requires at least eight high schools to have programs, it brought up the discussion of Shawnee Mission to cancel their programs as well.
“I believe the intent was never to eliminate the program based on not wanting the program,” East athletic director Debbie Katzfey said. “They know that the kids that are gymnasts are very passionate about being gymnasts, and they love the sport.”
Once hearing the gymnastics program was threatened to get cut for the next school year, the team reflected on past and future years at East.
“I felt extremely sad because it was such a big part of my high school life,” senior Kalin Lamus said. “It was something I always looked forward to every year going into the school year from summer.”
While the seniors reminisced on their time on their gymnastics team, the underclassmen felt dismal that their time on the team could be cut short.
“I was really disappointed because I had a good experience with it my first year,” freshman Brooklyn Beck said. “I was super upset that I wouldn’t be able to continue with it.”
The day after the clinic, gymnastic coach Jennifer Terflinger tweeted out on the SME Gymnastics account, “Thanks to all the support and help from everyone, gymnastics has been saved as a sport in high school!”
After the 2017-18 school year, the district will decide if they need to revisit canceling the program if the number of participants remains the same.