Article 2: A Tribute to Our Class of 2020 Seniors
Written by Mary Ciarlone '19, Graduate Assistant
Dedicated to the Class of 2020, Amanda Kasper (President), Amanda Matos (Vice President), Hannah Parlman (Treasurer), and Ashley Madeiros
A Tribute to Our Class of 2020 Seniors
Helping to form Simmons Gymnastics has been the biggest accomplishment of my undergraduate career. I have had the pleasure of working alongside very dedicated Eboard members and teammates who worked hard to make this dream a reality. After my back surgery, I had accepted that I would leave gymnastics behind and pursue other sports and activities. This all changed my sophomore year of undergrad when Amanda Kasper posted on the class of 2020 Facebook page that she and Amanda Matos wanted to create a gymnastics team and were gauging interest. I decided to attend their interest meeting in the Simmons Hall first floor lounge, even though I knew with my back condition I couldn’t do gymnastics anymore. My hope was that I could be a team manager or really involved in any capacity. It was after that meeting that I realized how inviting both of the Amandas were, and how much I wanted to run for the Eboard position of secretary. I was elected as secretary, and cleared to compete on beam and floor by my surgeon, a decision that I was absolutely shocked about. Even though I finished undergrad with the class of 2019, I have been able to continue practicing and competing with Simmons Gymnastics throughout grad school. I am even able to continue on as an Eboard member in the graduate assistant position. Long story short, my dream of going back to gymnastics came true. But I am not writing this to talk about my story.
Amanda Kasper, Amanda Matos, Hannah Parlman, and Ashley Madeiros are our four graduating seniors of the class of 2020. They have all become such close friends of mine, and I cherish all of the memories we have made over the past three to four years. Amanda Kasper and Amanda Matos were the first two teammates that I met. We worked on the Eboard together in the Spring of 2017 when we first tried to put together this team. I met Hannah next when we made a second attempt to start this team in the Fall of 2017. Lastly, I met Ashley in the spring of 2018 when she joined our small team of 7. Our first year may have been unfunded and unrecognized by Simmons, but we became very close with one another at our meets and through team bonding.
Amanda Kasper is one of the most driven people I have ever met. Without her, Simmons Gymnastics would not exist or be the success that it is today. In the fall of 2017, Amanda Matos was studying abroad, so I was essentially the stand-in vice president working with Amanda Kasper for that semester. Amanda and I organized an interest meeting, invited Hannah onto the Eboard, purchased our first competition leotards, and prepared the team for our first ever meet hosted by Boston University. Amanda was the driving force behind us re-presenting to the Simmons Student Government Association for funding for our team. She worked tirelessly to spread the love of gymnastics around campus and show our student body why we deserved recognition. She and I presented on Easter Sunday for an innovation grant that would give our new club $1,500 in funding. In the Spring of 2018, we received approval from Simmons to be a recognized club and we were approved the full innovation grant as well. Over the next two years, she and I planned our first ever trip to nationals, and we planned our first ever home meet with Cori, Becca, and other team members. We planned countless team bonding events, fundraisers, and honestly had such a blast while doing so. Most importantly, Amanda has become one of my best friends at Simmons. She is one of my favorite people to talk to, and she brightens the lives of so many people. She pushes me to be confident (“be the beam”) and she is the reason why I am participating in the sport I love so dearly. She is one of the most selfless people I have ever met and spends almost all of her time trying to make Simmons Gymnastics a supportive experience for everyone. Amanda embodies NAIGC’s motto “for the love of the sport” in each and every capacity. I cannot say how thankful I am to continue practicing and competing alongside her as she steps into the graduate assistant position with me and continues her journey at Simmons in the DPT program.
Amanda Matos is such a shining spirit and one of the funniest people I have ever met. I will never forget her competing at our first ever meet just 1-2 weeks after coming home from studying abroad. We have become so much closer over the past two years and she is such a dear friend to me. Amanda has worked incredibly hard to help coach our newer teammates and hype them up for competitions. She is constantly encouraging everyone on the team and finding some way to put a smile on everyone’s face. She helped Hannah and Amanda K present to SGA the second time around, which ultimately resulted in us receiving recognition and funding. She has been integral to our founding as a club and has brought so much happiness and joy to all of us. Some of my favorite memories of Amanda include her trying to stuff her oversized bag into the personal item section of spirit airlines, her random dance sessions, and the Irish jig she busted out during one of our team bonding parties. I think that Amanda is incredibly hardworking and kind towards everyone she meets. She has such a sweet heart and really strives to take new team members under her wing. Every Eboard meeting is such an eventful time (in a good way) because of her. I will truly miss Amanda’s humor and supportive and funny personality. She has been a delight to work with and become close with over the past few years. She has had such an impact on my time at Simmons and I am very sad to say goodbye to her as she is graduating and moving on from Simmons. I am very lucky to have known her and to call her one of my best friends, and I know she will excel in the future.
Hannah is my forever beam buddy. Similar to me, she joined Simmons Gymnastics following an injury and after having taken years off from the sport. She is one of the first friends I made on the team, and we virtually spent our entire practices working on beam together. We both picked up floor as an additional event later on, and took on the roles as team mom and dad. She was our final founding member to join and she worked incredibly hard to help us get approval from SGA. She has devoted her time to being our treasurer and ensuring that we receive funding for everything our team needs in order to be successful. She brings such a kind and caring vibe to our team and really works hard to make sure all of our teammates are having fun. Because of her, we have had three very successful apparel fundraisers, leotards and quarter zips to wear at competitions, money to go to competitions, including nationals, and practices that are paid for in full by Simmons. Hannah is the only member on the team who can relate to coming back to gymnastics following a back injury/ surgery, and we have become such great friends as a result. I will miss our jokes that we make during practice warmups about our inability to bend and the fact that we are practically Grandparents despite being in our early 20s. She was my original Nationals roomie and my ~wave~ buddy on beam. I am so sad that she will no longer be on our team as she is graduating, but I am so grateful that she will continue on at Simmons for graduate school. She has become one of my best friends and I really treasure all of the memories we have made over the years.
Ashley is one of the most energetic and bubbly members on our team. She always comes to practice and competitions ready to dance and have a good time. She is one of the original team members from when we competed before we were officially recognized by Simmons. I have become very close with her over the years from competing at nationals together and being in the DPT program together. Ashley is like a team mom in the sense that she loves to cook and bake for the team and for bake sales. She is so sweet to everyone on the team and loves to check in on how others are doing. Not only does she bring the party and the playlists to practice, but she also brings so much love and support. I am always amazed by how beautiful the dance is in her floor routine and just how passionate she can be for the sport. Ashley is a dear friend to many and has been an integral part to our team over the past 2.5 years. Even though she is not an Eboard member, she has basically earned herself an honorary spot because of her commitment to running bake sales, driving people to practice, and offering a place to stay to those who need it. Not to mention all of the Little Boston Invitational sessions we worked together in order to raise money for the club. She has a heart of gold and always finds a way to put a smile on someone’s face when they are down. I am so grateful that Ashley will continue on in the DPT program and compete for Simmons Gymnastics going forward. She is one of my best friends and I cannot wait to see her excel.
I could write a 10-page paper about these four gems who I am lucky to call my friends. They have become such outstanding people in many different ways. They are all a part of some of my fondest memories of college and have brought so much happiness and joy to my life. These four individuals are driven, intelligent, beautiful (inside and out), courageous, and so so kind. It breaks my heart that they will not receive the graduation ceremony that they deserve, filled with family and friends cheering them on. It was always my intention to be in the crowd cheering for each of them as they walked across the stage. It was always my intention to try to give them the best senior nationals experience possible. Despite all that has happened these past few months, they have remained kind and positive. They have continued to work hard in school and be there for their fellow teammates. They are leaving behind so many memories for all of us to cherish and remember them by. These four lovely people are some of my best friends, and I could not be happier to have met them.
Congratulations Amanda K, Amanda M, Hannah, and Ashley on your graduation. You will all do amazing things going forward, and I can’t wait to watch you thrive.
More photos and senior bios coming soon!!!!!
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.