Leaping into the Season

How the Gymnastics Team Prepares


Riley Grunow, Kyra Umbreit, and Ginger Schmidt posing for a photo at a meet. Photo Courtesy: Shea Carrol, January 2021.

Julia Deicicchi and Colleen Ardolino

     Winter is approaching, and the gymnastics team is ready to round-off back handspring themselves into the season. Formally known as the Foran Gymnastics team, the team has renamed themselves JAF Gym, and they are ready to show off their skills at this year’s meets. 

     Gymnastics is often forgotten amidst basketball and wrestling season, so it is important to also bring light to this intricate sport. It is not a sport that can only be practiced during its season.

     Riley Grunow, a junior, does gymnastics outside of school at GCA in Fairfield.

     “I train all year round, and I usually go about two-three times a week.” says Grunow.

     Gymnastics is not just flips and cartwheels, for there are several events: floor, bars, beam, and vault. Some compete in only one or two events, but others, like Grunow, compete all-around. Overall, her favorite event is vault.

     Just like any other sport, gymnastics comes with the risk of injury, and unfortunately the ones in gymnastics can be extremely severe.

     “I broke both of my ankles from gymnastics in middle school and had to stop for a little bit, but being gone for so long made me miss it, so I worked much harder when I came back to get all my skills back.” Grunow explains. 

     Grunow has made great personal advancements and accomplishments during her highschool career, and she plans to improve even further.

    Grunow reveals, “My main goal for this season is to upgrade my skills for every event and compete new skills to higher my scores”.

     A perfect score in gymnastics, which is extremely rare, is a 10. Each gymnast starts off with a 10, and points are deducted throughout the routine. Gymnasts main goal is to lose the least amount of points and perfect the routine they have practiced. A routine is catered to their personal abilities and style, making each unique.

     Coach Dina Sklanka, has been a gymnastics coach for 10 years. She was assistant coach for her first five years, and has been the head coach for the last five years.

     “I have been involved in the sport of gymnastics since I was two years old. I was a competitive gymnast from the time I was eight years old at a private club, up through high school ( I am a Foran alumni, Class of 2007) and the collegiate level. Gymnastics is my passion and has always been such a huge part of my life. Coaching is my way to continue to be involved in the sport I love as an adult and help young gymnasts progress and be successful in the sport of gymnastics” says Sklanka.

     She prepares these girls thoroughly, and she explains how a typical practice looks.

     “A typical practice begins with a light jog, full body stretch and basic skills on the floor to get their bodies warmed up and ready for practice. We then have a brief conversation about our goals for the practice and we split up into groups which will start on one of the four events, vault,bars, beam or floor. The gymnasts will then practice their skills and routines on each event. We normally finish up with some strength conditioning and a light stretch.”

     Sklanka reminds her gymnasts to treat each practice as a competition because that is the best way for them to prepare. 

     Assistant coach, Kyra Umbreit says, “My favorite part of gymnastics is seeing a gymnast gain a skill or perfect a skill that they have been working hard on to put into their routine! I also love seeing the gymnasts create bonds and support one another.”

     This sport is not only about working to improve skills and win awards, but to be a part of a team and make connections. The season will begin in December, and the gymnasts and coaches are excited to experience a safe season with hopes for great success.