Temple’s cheerleading squad was sitting on the sidelines at the men’s gymnastics meet against Springfield on Sunday. But they weren’t there in their official capacity with their usual uniforms and pompoms.
Instead, they were part of the over five hundred fans who packed McGonigle Hall – many of whom were in attendance to show support for the men’s gymnastics team – as coach Fred Turoff’s team competed in its first home meet since Temple announced on Dec. 7 that this would be the team’s last season.
Past gymnasts packed the building for Alumni Homecoming, waving cherry and white signs that said, “Save Men’s Gymnastics.”
“The crowd support was terrific,” Turoff said. “All the alumni and other folks that were wearing the ‘Keep Calm and Save Gymnastics’ shirts made my heart beat a little bit.”
Alumnus Nyika White, who was a member of the men’s gymnastics team from 2001 to 2005, said that alumni are determined to show their support for the team.
“There was an immediate response from the alumni [when the cuts were announced], literally within hours,” White said. “There was contemplation of how can we help save the team, how can we raise money for the team, how can we raise awareness for the team. I haven’t talked to that many alumni that quickly in ten years. Everyone was in full support of the team, trying to get as much support as we can.”
White added that the support ranges over decades of Temple gymnastics.
“We had a great alumni support here today,” White said. “I was talking to some of the guys who were on the team with Freddie Turoff [when he was competing]. That is gymnastics back in the 1950s and 60s. The alumni are united, and we’re all waiting for the outcome to see how it goes.”
In addition to the alumni, student-athletes representing a number of Temple sports, including soccer, track & field, volleyball and crew came out to support the team, just as they had for the women’s gymnastics home opener on Saturday.
“We all came to support them because they are one of the teams that are getting cut,” volleyball redshirt-freshman Halle McCullough said. “Most of the athletics department were all here earlier. We all wore our cherry shirts, and we’re here to support.”
Even the youngest fans got in on the support for the team. One of the young boys from Temple’s Sunday youth program waved a sign that read “Gymnast-in-Training. Save Temple Gymnastics.”
Several of the boys from the Sunday youth program performed on the court halfway through the meet. The Temple program that supports the boys is also threatened by the cuts.
But White and the other alumni are determined to halt the cuts and keep a program that White described as one that represents all of Temple’s traditions.
“There’s so many positives to the Temple men’s gymnastics team, [from] the athletic standpoint, the academic standpoint, the community service standpoint,” White said. “We’re going to keep fighting until the doors of the gym close.”
Don McDermott can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.