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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

A&M gymnastics ready to vault into spring season

Texas+A%26M+Gymanstics
Photo by via Texas A&M Gymnastics Facebook
Texas A&M Gymanstics

The 2020-2021 school year at Texas A&M has been an abnormal scene for everyone on and off campus, and the A&M gymnastics team is no exception to this. The team has trained through a year characterized by restrictions, limitations and a priority on safety and health.
The most significant change the team has faced is limitations on practices. Compared to a typical season, they are allowed nine fewer practice hours per week and also must maintain a 6-foot distance from one another in the gym, making it more challenging to balance their time and learn new skills.
“Typically, our practices are very come-and-go as you please in a big three-hour block,” team president Kaylee Connolly said. “We’ve had to impose a strict practice schedule.”
These changes have hurt the team’s practice efficiency, particularly when their hour and a half is shortened even more by activities like stretching, warm-ups and cleaning afterward.
“I just focus on one skill after I’m all warmed up… It’s a much more limited practice time for skills,” team vice president Alden “Mic” Brown said. “Whereas normally, I can warm up, be loose and ready, and I could practice three or four separate skills a day.”
The team has also found new ways to practice during the pandemic to promote team bonding. They are split into multiple groups, or cohorts, that practice together. During training, they’ll take part in “cohort challenges,” which helps keep things fun and fresh, men’s team captain Kevin Abbott said.
“We had a timed hand-stand competition,” Abbott said. “Our men were averaging two to three-minute hand-stands, which is awesome.”
Outside of the gym, team members can only interact with members of their cohort. This helps to limit interaction across the team as a whole. Through this system, in the event of a positive test, the spread can be minimized, and the team will know exactly who may have come into contact with that member.
That hasn’t stopped the team from trying to build a strong team dynamic. Abbott said they’re trying their best to keep a cohesive unit despite these cohort constraints.
“Whether it be through Zoom hang-outs or continuing our cohort challenges, we are still trying to increase the competition level of everyone within the gym even if we are not able to see everyone,” Abbott said.
Despite all these challenges, the team has nothing short of high expectations for the upcoming season. Both the men’s and women’s teams had strong finishes to the 2019-2020 season. They want to keep that momentum heading into this 2020-2021 season, assuming a season does occur.
“I tell everyone to practice under the assumption that we do have a season,” women’s team captain Renee Woodruff said.
However, the season is not 100 percent guaranteed. With the uncertainty of their season’s status and the likelihood of a long season being up in the air due to the pandemic, the team is choosing to enjoy every second they get.
“Since we don’t really have a clear view of the season yet, I’m just looking forward to any semblance of a season,” Connolly said. “Competition season is by far the most fun and exciting time of the year, and if we can have anything like that given the circumstances, that’s what I would love.”
All the commotion surrounding the upcoming season won’t slow down this team. They’re trying their best to schedule meets and put together as complete and typical of a season as possible given the current climate.
“We are trying to give everyone as normal of a season as possible and give everyone a handful of meets if A&M lets us,” Woodruff said. “Last season came to a pretty abrupt end. I’m just looking forward to hopefully being able to compete one last time with my team.”

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