Senior gymnasts Taylor Bell, Sarah Gillaspie and Madi Lage are more than just teammates. They have spent as many as five years on the same gymnastic club teams and since freshman year the East varsity gymnastics team. The leadership they share this year has made these three athletes even closer friends and better teammates.
The sport that brought them together also defines what they do outside of practice and meets. They have sleepovers where eating, watching YouTube videos of gymnastic routines from the 2012 Summer Olympics, or watching “Stick It”, the popular gymnastics centered movie, are the activities of choice. Hanging out outside of gymnastics still means
gymnastics to the three friends; especially because of their different interests outside of sports and their different personalities.
“We still do gymnastic things, like watching “Stick It” but its always fun to make all the plans for the team and show [the other girls on the team] everything,” Bell said.
Being the three seniors on the team pressure on the girls comes from younger teammates and gymnastics coach Chuck Lundbald. Their roles this year require additional time outside of practice and meets to help keep the team organized, plan team activities and decide on team spirit wear. They are also expected to compete in all the meets and score points.
“Having the leadership role and knowing that when it comes to a meet, I’m going to compete is scary because there is a lot of pressure on the three seniors,” Lage said.
East gymnastics coach Lundbald has been coaching at East for three years. He began coaching near the end of the girls’ freshman year. He has been involved in the high school gymnastic careers of all of the seniors and has watched them grow up and become the young adults he coaches today.
“I think they have matured as far as what they know they need to get done, and they have been friends all along,” Lundbald said. “I’ve seen them grow as leaders and role models.”
While Lage, Bell and Gillaspie did not become friends until high school, they trained and competed at the Beller’s Gymnastics Gym together. Although none of them were in the same level, the only thing they knew about one another was each another’s names. They were not aware that they would be attending the same high school.
“When we were little, we were never in the same level. I actually didn’t know Taylor or Madi were my age,” Gillaspie said.
The bond that the three friends formed through gymnastics gives them the ability to help improve not only the team’s performance, but their own.
“When you’re just friends you don’t necessarily have the guts to critique each other,” said Lage. “Because when you do gymnastics you are kind of team coaches. It makes ourfriendship different.”
Gillaspie, Bell and Lage, have all stayed with the sport, building not only their athletic skills, but leadership and relationships skills, all while making memories.
“I want to remember us going for all our skills and having no regrets,” Gillaspie said. “I want to see them succeed as much as I want to succeed.”