Stick It

JAF Gym’s Hard Work and Success This Season


Riley Grunow

Senior Captains: Seniors Ginger Schmidt and Riley Grunow pose for a photo at one of their meets, January 2023.

          As the winter sports’ season began, the girls gymnastics team, officially known as JAF Gym, looked forward to starting fresh and is now working hard to end on a high note.

          The season began with a victory over Mercy on January 7 at home with a score of Foran’s 122.35 to Mercy’s 76.45. Their next meet was January 10 at Daniel Hand, where the girls had their first lost but earned a total of 119.45 points. They returned home for a meet on January 12, where they defeated Hamden with a score of 111.25 to Hamden’s 62.4. 

          Being led by seniors Ginger Schmidt and Riley Grunow, the team is in great hands. They have both done gymnastics for 12 years and have both been on the team for all four years. They have been captains for the past two years as well.

          Grunow shares, “I have had to take on more of a leadership role and try to keep everyone motivated for meets and practices… it’s rewarding to get everyone riled up for competition and such.”

          Given the size of the team, which consists of only nine girls, they have grown extremely close, helping new members get acquainted with the team and always pushing each other to improve. 

          Freshman Kayla Johnson, who is new to the team this year, decided to join the team because she enjoys the sport and looks forward to meeting and competing with new people.

          Johnson loves the team aspect of the sport, saying, “I appreciate my teammates and the amount they cheer for us on each event.”

          This feeling of team closeness is one felt by the team as a whole, and one the captains ensure is strong. 

          Grunow comments, “My favorite part of gymnastics is the community we have made together and how everyone is so close because the team is so small…We have gotten a couple new girls this year and everyone has been getting along very well. We do pasta parties and little breakfasts and such out of practice.

          Coached by Dina Sklanka, the team is definitely in experienced hands. She has been coaching for 11 years, six years as head coach and five years as an assistant coach. Sklanka has great expectations for the team as she shares, “I hope the girls have a great season and improve with each meet.” 

          The girls’ next meet is Monday, January 30, and is home against Daniel Hand. The team loves when they get support and welcomes the school community to attend their meets.