It’s never too late to learn how to flip! The Brandeis Gymnastics club team is an all-inclusive club sport that rosters individuals of all skill levels.
Three times each week, the team holds off-campus practice at a gym in Cambridge. They hire coaches to oversee practices, offering advice concerning basics and fundamentals to new or novice gymnasts, as well as offering coaching to veteran gymnasts familiar with the sport. “One of the great things about having our coaches at the off-campus gym is that they can really focus on some of the newer members and offer suggestions of beginner skills to try and more experienced team members are great resources as well,” Gianna Petrillo ’19, the club’s president, explained.
Although each off-campus practice is limited to 12 gymnasts (enough to fill one club sports van), the team rosters about 20 active members, who rotate in attendance at the practices and some who do not attend regularly. Brandeis Gymnastics also meets bi-weekly on campus. The time commitment is up to the individual, according to Petrillo.
The off-campus practices have a loose structure, Petrillo stated. Once the team has arrived at the gym and warmed up, students can choose the skill set they want to practice for that day, allowing new gymnasts the opportunity to gain a diverse skill set. “If you are new to the team and want to try one event in particular, or are working on a certain skill, or if you don’t even know where to begin, you can find something for you at gymnastics,” Petrillo said.
The most dedicated of members also have the opportunity to compete in both local and travel competitions. “This year was our most competitive year as a club,” Petrillo said of the club’s competition schedule. The team will compete in a total of seven competitions this year, from a local competition in Greater Boston to a larger one in Fort Worth, TX. Competitions help expose members of the club to the atmosphere of competition and the skill levels of competing clubs. They are building up to the annual National Competition, which the club team participates in every year and can happen anywhere in the country. Co-president Hannah DeRoche ’19 is the 2016 Floor National Champion and the 2017 Floor runner-up. Petrillo is the 2017 beam runner-up.
Petrillo herself is no beginner when it comes to competition. The club president started her gymnastics journey at the age of three and grew up competing until time commitments forced her out of practice during high school. When she arrived at Brandeis, the club gymnastics team offered her the perfect outlet to get back into gymnastics without consuming too much of her time.
Not only does the club gymnastics team offer Petrillo an outlet to practice her sport, it also provides an environment for fostering friendships she otherwise wouldn’t have made at Brandeis. “Although I may study something entirely different than my teammates, so I may not take classes with them, our unity over the sport allows me to interact with a much larger student population who I get to see and flip with several times a week,” she said. Connecting over their love of gymnastics and competition, Petrillo and her gymnastics friends have become a tight community, which Petrillo said has become her favorite part of competing for Brandeis gymnastics.