For five senior women’s gymnasts, Saturday’s ECAC Championship was more than just any meet. It was their last as Temple Owls.
To Cheryl Cerminaro, Erin Davis, Katie Domenico, Erika Messa and Alexis Zafferes, it was a day filled with reflective thoughts and sadness.
“[My four years] were hard, rewarding, and the best experience I’ve ever had,” Zafferes said.
“It’s been amazing,” Domenico added. “[My teammates] are my sisters, and I had the best four years of my life.”
Before the meet, most of the seniors said they did not feel tension.
“I tried not to focus on it being my last meet,” Messa said. “I stayed calm and visualized what I had to do on my floor routine.”
But after their fifth-place finish that effectively ended the team’s season, Davis reflected on how the team progressed since her freshman year.
“Our team has changed dramatically,” Davis said. “We’ve grown, expanded, and have depth, talent and potential. We also gained a lot of respect from other teams.”
All of the seniors expressed appreciation of the coaching staff and had encouraging words for their teammates.
Domenico thanked her coaches for bringing her to Temple, and helping her to become a better gymnast and a better person.
“Our coaches are hardly complimented by the University for all the extra time they put in,” Zafferes said. “However, we appreciate them as much as they appreciate us.”
Messa, a co-captain, urged her teammates to “keep the Temple tradition going,” and to “keep progressing, because each year we get better.”
Assistant coach Aaron Murphy said this class was unique, because when they were freshmen, he was still competing for the men’s gymnastics team. “I was their friend first, then their coach,” he said. “It was an honor and pleasure to have coached such a great senior class.”
Coach Ken Anderson said he was sorry to see them go.
“They were a very good group,” he said.
Zafferes tried looking at the whole picture, rather than focusing solely on Saturday’s disappointing meet.
“I wanted the five seniors to end on the best possible note,” Zafferes said. “However, if it did go bad, one meet wasn’t going to change four great years.”
Dan Murphy can be reached at email@example.com.