2003 Gymnastics Season Outlook
Nov. 20, 2002
The Colonials gymnastics team continued its dominance of the Atlantic 10 in 2002 by winning its fifth straight conference title. Three time Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year, Margie Foster-Cunningham, will be looking for the same thing out of her squad in 2003. This year's team is totally different than in previous years though, due to the loss of four seniors and two other letterwinners who played a crucial role in the team's success. However, coach Cunningham is confident that the squad can perform at a high level.
Some of the pressure will fall on the lone senior and co-captain, Melissa Suter. She returns to the team after a successful junior year and must continue her excellence on bars while filling the leadership void.
Suter will be joined by fellow captains, juniors Rachel Mann and Lindsay Parks. Both of these returnees will perform in at least three events. Mann will continue to focus on floor and bars and may be asked to become an All-Around performer. As for Parks, coach Cunningham will be looking for her to repeat her performance from last season at Kent State, where she scored a 9.900 on vault and was named Atlantic 10 Performer of the Week for her efforts. She must continue to compete at a high level on beam and floor and must step up for the team in vault to help make up for the loss of four top vaulters from last season. According to coach Cunningham, these two are the steadying influence and should help to take the pressure off the younger, less experienced members of the team.
Fellow juniors, Lauren Bernstein and Theresa Miele, will need to elevate their roles for the team this year. Bernstein has been a staple on the beam for the past two seasons and will be asked to contribute in other events this season. Miele has worked hard during her first two years and now has the opportunity to make that work pay off by performing on the bars.
Coach Cunningham is also looking for big contributions from the sophomores, Meagan Wilson and Stefanie Tocco. Wilson is recovering from injuries to her wrist and shins but should be able to compete for the Colonials on beam and floor. Tocco, unfortunately, suffered an achilles tendon injury earlier this year, but she could return by late January to provide the team with strong routines on the bars.
Although the team may have lost some excellent gymnasts from last season, Cunningham is excited about the talent in this year's freshman class of Erin Aiken, Tiffany Jones, Heather Kaufman and Amy Stack. Aiken is a possible All-Arounder for the Colonials and Cunningham raves about her timing and gracefulness while performing. Jones, the Ohio level 10 bars champion, will look to compete on bars and beam for the Colonials. She has leadership qualities rarely seen in a freshman and has gained the respect of her teammates through her dedicated work ethic. Kaufman could also step in as an All-Arounder. Cunningham describes her as powerful and fun to watch, calling her "dynamite." Stack, possibly an All-Arounder, is ready to get her college career underway. She is the consummate teammate and her athleticism should really help the Colonials reach their preseason goals.
There are some question marks, but Cunningham feels that she has the answers. It is important for the women to mesh as a team, and for the younger gymnasts, to understand the different kind of pressure that exists when performing in a team-oriented competition as opposed to an individual setting. With a strong balance of experience and young energy, the Colonials should be right back where they expect to be, at the top of the Atlantic 10, and by the end of the season, will have made good on their team motto: "From Good to Great."