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Senior Lucy Tubbert wasn’t aware of the bond she was going to create as she walked into her first practice at Shawnee Mission South. In all other sports, South is known as the enemy to East students, but for the past two years, the rivalry between East and South has been put aside for gymnastics. All eight of the East girls’ gymnastics team members travel to South every day after school to practice. The two teams practice together and share Jennie Terflinger as their head coach, and Bernadette Wagner is their assistant coach.
“Honestly, Wags is like our grandma and Jennie is like our mom. They are the sweetest people out there,” Tubbert said.
This is Terflinger’s second year coaching both the teams, and her tenth year overall coaching gymnastics. Terflinger has the two teams working and practicing together everyday.
“Its really weird that we have to drive out there every day, but South is very welcoming. We’re all basically one big team,” sophomore Mya Hutcherson said.
Although they aren’t truly one big team, the members feel this way because they have dinners and hang out together. Terflinger gave them the option to have team dinners separate at the beginning of the season, but the girls decided to have them combined.
“The girls are so nice to each other you’d think we are just one team,” Terflinger said. “If you walked into the gym you wouldn’t notice there are two schools, especially two rivalry schools.”
Last year, East had a great season, but this year East is missing two gymnasts, with sophomore Jesse Stint and junior Rachel Rodgers both out with ankle injuries. South has 12 team members opposed to East’s 8. Because of how gymnastics is scored, South will automatically have a better overall team score, because the more players you have the higher the team score will be. East is currently ranked sixth overall out of the 13 teams in the league, while South is ranked second.
“[East’s] score isn’t really where it needs to be right now, but when [the injured girls] come back we will be a lot of stronger, ” Terflinger said.
As the coach for East and South, Terflinger finds it difficult to lead both teams during a meet, especially during a small meet of 3-5 schools. Terflinger has a hard time coaching both teams at once. Events often happen at the same time, so she misses watching her girls in some areas.
Larger meets, which are usually comprised of 8-10 schools, are a bit easier for Terflinger to manage. In a large meet, both the schools do the same events and don’t move on until everyone from East and South finishes the same event.
“Luckily I have a great assistant that has been coaching at Shawnee Mission Schools for 20-plus years,” Terflinger said, so we will split up and I will coach, say vault and balance beam, and my assistant Bernadette Wagner will take uneven bars and floor exercise.”
The two teams have come together, and for state, eight schools will qualify and three teams win it. With this setup, East and South could both win state. So, the two of them could both achieve their goals.
“Coach Terflinger has really brought our teams together,” Tubbert said. “We’ve created a bond that is almost unbreakable.”