On September 4th, when Summit HS held its first official gymnastics practice, everything was unknown. Thirteen girls came out for the team. Eight of them had never been in a gymnastics meet — ever.
Coaches Tracy Claus and Frankie Degen hadn't been to a high school gymnastics meet since they competed in one, more than 25 years ago. Assistant Coach Laurie McCormack was a gymnast for Westfield High School in the 90s, but she was never a coach there.
Although Summit Athletic Director Mike Sandor was enthusiastically supportive of the sport, it was a brand-new venture for Summit High School, so the expectations were low. The high school partnered with The Connection for Women and Families, to become the home base for the team, to practice and compete. Nobody knew how that arrangement would work out.
By any measure, this first season has been an unmitigated success. The team competed in 8 dual meets throughout the season, facing 3 teams who are vying for the NJSIAA State Team title this week. They finished 3-5, losing one of their meets by less than one point!
The team finished a very respectable 5th place in the Union County Championship on October 19th, and was well within striking distance of 4th place. Three athletes posted scores high enough to qualify for the prestigious NJSIAA North II Sectional Championship on 9 events.
In the first few meets, the gymnasts and coaches faced a big learning curve to understand the sometimes- confusing code of points written by the National Federation of State HS Associations.
The terminology was new to all; the rules and requirements were significantly different than those governing other gymnastics organizations, so substantial modifications had to be made to each routine. In the early meets, the team total was in the mid-80s. The team improved each meet and ended the dual meet season with a phenomenal season high 97.85, adding over 10 points to the team total in the span of only 8 weeks.
The generosity of the Connection for Women and Families, and its gymnastics program cannot be understated. Without access to the gym, the equipment and the coaching assistance, the SHS Team would not exist.
The team showed its appreciation to the Connection by holding a bake sale to support the scholarship program at The Connection on Friday November 16th so it was able to donate $200 to The Connection's scholarship fund to support future gymnasts interested in HS Gymnastics.
— Summit High School Gymnastics Team