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The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


The Student News Site of Rock Ridge High School


Vaulting Into Gymnastics: Season Recap

While working all season to refine and polish their routines, the gymnastics program became a second family for many of the girls, establishing a strong sense of belonging that they feel when working together at practices and meets.
Photo courtesy of Rock Ridge Gymnastics via Instagram
The gymnastics team huddles together with bright smiles on their faces after successfully finishing their last meet of 2023. The meet was hosted by Park View High School, and the Phoenix placed 4th overall.

For the Phoenix gymnastics team, it isn’t just a sport. It’s a family. As the season progressed, this tight bond proved to be a lifeline for many of the girls on the team every time they stepped onto the mat. 

The winter season can sometimes be stressful for many high schoolers, especially due to the intensive academic workload that’s placed on students’ shoulders. Because of this, many of them struggle with being able to exercise in the winter time. However, the gymnastics program has helped many athletes stick to a fitness routine and take care of their bodies. “During winter, it’s kind of hard to stay active,” sophomore Laya Arun said. “[Gymnastics] is a really nice way to stay fit.” 

Throughout the course of the season, the team put up exceptional  efforts to perfect their routines. They focused specifically on training their bodies to handle more intense routines by going through extensive amounts of conditioning. Being gymnasts meant that the athletes had to sacrifice a few of their habits and favorite foods to ensure that their bodies could handle the grueling workouts and practices. “[Gymnastics] taught me ways to strengthen my body and take care of myself,” Arun said. “I always had to make sure that I was eating the right stuff for my body.”

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Coming into the season, the group had prioritized maximizing their team score overall. Along with many other goals, the team strived to make the mat a comfort zone for the athletes. They worked hard all season to connect with one another so that they could perform better at meets. “We wanted to be stronger individually and stronger as a team,” Arun said. 

The team bonded even more during practices, where they made some of their best memories. “Spending time with the team was [one of our] best moments, along with practicing,” sophomore Sienna Fehlmann said. “We all get along.” When it comes to practices, the team has to come together to help each other, creating an all-hands-on-deck situation because they have to get their own equipment and set it up themselves.

Unfortunately, the team’s season wasn’t always smooth-sailing. They had to overcome many external challenges that were thrown at them when they competed at various meets. “The team, together, is really good,” Arun said. “But sometimes, the judges grade too harshly [at meets] and that brings our team score down. It sucks, but it’s [not our fault.]” 

Another factor that impacted the team’s overall performance this season was the lack of gym space when it came to regular-season practices. Various other winter sports teams occupied the main and auxiliary gyms at times, and this led to many gymnastics practices getting canceled or rescheduled. “We have limited practices,” Arun said. “Our schedule is always changing, but that’s something that we can fix [in the future.]”

Despite these tough situations, the girls kept their heads up high and continued to put in the work to showcase their talents and skills. Their team chemistry came naturally to them, and this enabled them to work well together and showcase their routines at the highest caliber.  “[Over the season] I think we learned [a lot] about teamwork,” sophomore Maria Paula said. “[For example], we have to put our [own] equipment in the gym, [and] it’s really heavy, so [to make it easier for all of us] we have to work together.” 

The team’s coach also played a major role in making sure that the team progressed throughout the course of the season. “She dedicates a bunch of her time to the team,” Arun said. “She always tries to make sure that everyone fits in, and she includes everyone in competitions.” 

Overall, the team is extremely content with their progress and achievements this season. This year’s seniors, including leader Thandi Hart, showcased their talents on the mat all season and inspired the younger members of the team to step up. While Hart took home many placing finishes throughout the season and uplifted those around her, it’s the relationship they all created by the end of it all that proved to be the most rewarding. With extra off-season training and practices, the program hopes to do even better in future competitions and meets, and emulate what they learned from the experience of their veterans.

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Sruthi Vivek, Sports Editor
Sruthi Vivek is a sophomore and this is her second year on “The Blaze” staff. She is the Sports Editor, and she’s looking forward to all of the amazing things that the staff will accomplish this year. Sruthi plays for the Rock Ridge varsity basketball team, and she loves sports in general. She loves going to football games and hanging out with her friends at tailgates. When she’s not out socializing, you can usually find Sruthi in her room stressing about school work or watching TV shows. She’s also very passionate about art and loves to paint in her free time as well. Sruthi is a huge music fan, and you’ll usually find her listening to R&B and rap artists like Bryson Tiller, Drake, Travis Scott, and Tory Lanez. She originally joined Newspaper her freshman year because she loves to write and take pictures.
Maya Coleman, Business Manager
Maya Coleman is a junior and this is her second year on “The Blaze.” She is the Business Manager and is excited for another year on the school newspaper! Ever since she was younger, she’s loved to write, and it’s something she believes she will always be very passionate about. She is a part of Rock Ridge Sings as another elective, and in her free time she enjoys reading books, watching movies, and hanging out with her friends.
Riya Cherukuri, Staff Writer
Riya Cherukuri is a sophomore and a first year staffer on The Blaze. In her free time, Cherukuri enjoys baking desserts. Cherukuri also spends her time playing softball for Rock Ridge. She was motivated to play because her brother played baseball, so being on the field felt just right. Cherukuri hopes to continue playing in college.

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