GW Gymnastics Freshmen Make the Transition to Collegiate Gymnastics
Four Newcomers Begin GW Career
Nov. 5, 2013
As the fall semester rolls into November, freshmen all across the George Washington campus are gearing up for final exams following their first few months in college.
For four GW gymnastics freshmen, the transition from high school to college has been a different experience than that of their peers.
In addition to the academic shift to a world-renowned university, Kaitlin Cowles (Canton, Conn.), Alex DeMoura (Garden City, N.J.), Chelsea Raineri (Telford, Pa.) and Kaila Solomon (Woodcliff Lakes, N.J.) have each dealt with the transition from scholastic and club gymnastics to competing at a Division I program, all while balancing the rigors of a demanding academic schedule.
"I thought balancing the academics with gymnastics was going to be extremely difficult while starting a new life in D.C.," said Raineri. "But it has been easier than I thought with the help of my teammates."
Echoing the sentiment of her classmate, Cowles agrees the transition has been eased with the help of her teammates along with the resources afforded to a GW student-athlete.
"At first, it was pretty challenging trying to figure out the best way to manage my time between practices and classes and getting a good night's sleep," said Cowles. "But over the past month or so I have really gotten into a routine that works for me. The Academic Support department has been a big help during my first semester. Study hall hours in the Carbonell Center and working with my academic advisor has been key in helping me adjust and stay on track."
Academics aside, making the switch from competing primarily for club and scholastic teams to a year-round commitment to GW gymnastics has been a process as well.
"Gymnastics in college compared to competing in club is totally different," explained Raineri. "When competing in club it seemed that everyone was focused on their individual performance. However, it is now all about the team which is one of my favorite parts about college. Knowing that striving every day to get better will benefit the team makes me train much harder knowing that it isn't just for my own reasons."
"Practices are structured differently," explained Cowles. "The types of assignments we have are more team-based and more mentally challenging than anything I've experienced."
Although the difficulty of practices has increased, the freshmen quartet cites resources available to student-athletes as a way to ease the transition.
"Our strength and conditioning program and lifting twice a week has been a huge help," said DeMoura. "Lifting has made me twice as strong since I have arrived and it has helped enormously. Also knowing that we have access to Sports Medicine and our trainer whenever I am in need is very comforting."
"We condition here differently than I ever have before," said Soloman. "Through the Strength & Conditioning Department, we have been lifting and spinning to stay in shape. Also, something I have never done before is pool workouts which we do a couple of times a month."
In addition to their current teammates, another thing that has proven beneficial to these newcomers is relationships with past Colonial gymnasts, which included a career forum during alumni weekend.
"We had the opportunity to work with GW gymnastics alumni during alumni weekend," explained Soloman. "We worked on things like resume building and interview tips. As a first-semester freshman its seems like looking for jobs is still far off but I know everything we are doing will be very useful down the road, especially when we build on what we are learning each year."
Approaching the end of their first semester at GW, the four freshmen eagerly look forward to January's season opener at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational and the months that follow.
"I am so excited for the season to begin in January," said Soloman. "We are determined to come out strong and ultimately make NCAA Regionals as a team. I can't wait to experience traveling and competing together, and showing everyone how serious, determined, and ready to go we are."
"I am extremely excited for the season to start because of how prepared I already feel being in the middle of preseason," said DeMoura. "My goal is to be a great contributor to the team and help the team out as much as possible by doing my very best in every competition."
"I am most looking forward to going out there and competing for the team," said Raineri. "My team and coaches have really given me the drive to want our team to be successful and meet all of our goals for this upcoming season. This year is the year that GW gymnastics is going to make NCAA Regionals. This is our ultimate goal for the season and I know we are going to make it."