Leaps And Bounds

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Fun is the focus for gymnastics team

There have been several changes to the Carle Place gymnastics team this season—new coaches, new team members, the addition of students from The Wheatley School. And while the changes have brought adjustments, it has also brought significant advantages to the team.

Last year the gymnastics team had eight people, this year, the team boasts 19, the largest number they’ve had in several years. Contributing to that growth was the addition of several middle schoolers, as well as a partnership with The Wheatley School in the East Williston School District, which does not have their own team.

gymnastics__aJoanna Signorile, a 10th-grader from Wheatley, has been doing club gymnastics since second grade and said having the opportunity to compete on a high school team has been a huge help.

“When I found out about the team, I was so excited, I couldn’t wait for the season to start,” said Signorile, who is one of two students joining Carle Place from Wheatley. “It’s helped me by allowing me to compete more and get more experience, and meeting new people and having the coaches has helped a lot too. We all work together as a team to get better.”

Carle Place seventh-grader Francesca Fortunato echoed those sentiments. This is her first year on the team and while initially she thought it would be intimidating being on a team with older girls, those fears were quickly dispelled.

“They treat us all the same and we’re like a family,” Fortunato said. “The older girls make you want to do better. Everyone’s always positive and since we’re such a great team it keeps me motivated to do harder stuff.”

As of press time, the team has won two out of their three meets this season, however, for the girls, it’s more about having fun, said head coach JoAnna Judge. They’re in Conference 2, seated no. 8 out of 10, but Judge said they’ve already beat two teams ranked above them.

“We’re looking to be better every single time. We just want to continue to improve,” Judge said. “But the most important thing is that they’re having fun.”

“I want them to be strong, not just in the gym but in the world”-JoAnna Judge

This season marks Judge’s first year as head coach; she spent the last two as assistant coach, a position now held by Heather Brumby, a dancer who brings her choreography talents to the team. Judge noted that it was a young team, and while there was a lot to learn, they were “very coachable.”

“There’s a lot of natural talent,” Judge said. “They’re really good kids who are looking to learn. They want to get better.”

But for Judge, it’s not just about helping these young gymnasts win medals or have a good time on the mat. It’s about helping these girls become strong women.

“I want them to be strong, not just in the gym but in the world,” Judge said. “To get up on the beam is one thing, but to be mentally tough to attack other things in life is where we’re really going. I want [them] to be part of the solution, not the problem.”

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