Article 1: The Gymnastics Story
Written by Amanda Kasper '20, President
Dedicated to our first senior, Mary Ciarlone '19, Secretary
At the end of my first year at Simmons, I found myself really missing gymnastics. I had competed from second grade until my senior year of high school and thought I’d enjoy having my afternoons off once beginning college, considering gymnastics is a year-round 5-6 days/week sport. I had remembered from my very first tour at Simmons that starting a club was a possibility, something I’d kept in the back of my mind since picking a school without my favorite sport. It all started with a post on the Facebook page and a chat between Fit at Simmons classes with the now VP Amanda Matos. After finding a small group of ex-gymnasts to form an executive board, we had to find practice locations, look into uniforms, register for meets, and much, much more than a typical academic club. This is when we found Mary to join the Executive Board and she has been a part of it ever since. Once getting these logistics worked out and plans set up, we presented to JCab and passed, then moved onto the SGA presentation, where we were three votes short of passing. Crushed, we gave up for the summer. Then in early October of my sophomore year, Amanda was in New Zealand and nobody else was still interested in trying again, but Mary and I decided to meet to try again. I remember exactly where we were sitting at The Fens when we were trying to scramble things together, trying to make ends meet so we could go to Rhett’s Bowl, the meet hosted by her best friend on the BU Gymnastics Team. And we figured it out - we were going to try again and prove to Simmons that a gymnastics team was possible and we could do it before presenting again. Mary and I were up texting until 2 AM on Black Friday trying to find competition leotards we could order and we decided on the cheapest, long-sleeve blue leotards we could find for $36. Without her we would not have made the progress we made last year which lead us to official recognition this year. Without our determination to try again with no money at all, the club would not be where it is now. We set up practice at Cambridge Community Gymnastics at MIT, got 5-8 people to join us, and signed our team up for our very first meet, Boston University’s Rhett’s Bowl in December 2017. All of our money was either fundraised or out of pocket and we scraped together some choreography and competed in the meet with barely any practice. We didn’t win anything, but that didn’t matter to me because we were there and we made it. Second semester we competed at two meets at MIT, right where we practice. We lost a few people over break, but a few dedicated members remained. We applied for an Innovation Grant from the Alumnae/i Association and got it (in the amount of $1500) which really kickstarted the approval process. Towards the end of the semester, JCab reached out and asked if we wanted to present again at their last meeting. We put a brand new presentation together. Instead of just ideas, it was all real photos and things we'd accomplished and we knew exact money amounts needed for everything. Approved with recommendations again, we then moved onto the SGA Presentation. And we were approved almost unanimously! Now our club is completely funded, including our practices, leotards, warm up gear, meet entry fees, transportation, and team bonding, and we have eighteen athletes on our roster enjoying the beautiful sport of gymnastics. No experience is required to join and we are an official NAIGC club. SGA calls us “the model org” and uses us as an example for other new orgs. We even made it to NAIGC Nationals in Daytona Beach, Florida to represent Simmons for the first time ever, a trip planned completely by Mary due to her dedication to the cause. This has been my biggest success and I wouldn’t take one part of the journey back. Simmons Gymnastics was not only one of my biggest triumphs, but will also be one of my favorite memories.
Mary graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science (cum laude) and will continue on at Simmons as a part of the accelerated 3+3 Doctor of Physical Therapy program. During her time at Simmons, Mary completed a Psychology minor, and was also a student leader/facilitator at America Learns, co-president of Relay for Life, a general board member of Simmons Dance Marathon, and of course one of the founding members and club secretary of Simmons Gymnastics.
Mary will step into the new eboard position of Graduate Assistant as she continues at Simmons.