Katie Canning leads Owls as team sets school record.
As the scores were announced for the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational, the women’s gymnastics team knew they had knocked off opponents West Chester and Ursinus with their performance in the final home meet of the season. What they didn’t know initially, was that they had set the school record for overall team score with a mark of 193.275.
The Owls placed first in all four events Sunday, as seniors Corrine Williams, Kaity Watson and Alexandra Uscatu were all honored after the contest as they competed in their last home meet.
The trio was all freshmen the last time Temple broke the record for all-around score when Temple posted a mark of 192.625 in a dual meet at Cornell three seasons prior. One current gymnast, graduate Katie Canning, also waved goodbye to McGonigle Hall and was a sophomore when the team last set the record for team score.
Canning, the team’s only fifth-year senior, sat out last season as she recovered from left shoulder surgery. Her return this year has provided more than just points to the team’s scorecard.
“[Canning] brings the most experience since she has been here for five years,” Williams said. “She has been through everything. Her role is a motivator and a leader and to be an example to the younger girls. She brought back those big scores and that brings morale.”
Canning tore the labrums in both of her shoulders and was forced to sit out after surgery for what would have been her fourth and final season. She chose to be honored in last year’s senior meet in order to celebrate with her graduating class, but was unable to compete in the season.
The road to recovery was not an easy one for Canning.
“She lived in the training room,” coach Aaron Murphy said. “She was down there doing all the rehab necessary to get her body back into shape for the sport. That’s what every coach wants.”
Getting her body back into shape after shoulder surgery could have been easier had Canning not been an all-around gymnast. Canning was the only Owl to compete in all four events at the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational.
“It takes me two to three days to recover from a full meet, but I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Canning said. “My junior year I only competed in three events and because of my shoulder I couldn’t do bars and I hated it. I need to do all-around and have the constant adrenaline rush.”
Murphy, who has been the coach during Canning’s entire Temple career, said he knows the challenges of being an all-around gymnast.
“This definitely makes a statement that if you do have a major surgery or injury, you can bounce back,” Murphy said. “There is a lot of talk that sometimes as a female gymnast you cannot make that bounce back and she has completely proved that she can. It shows her willingness and her drive to want to win.”
Canning’s ability to be an all-around gymnast is something she cannot take for granted after surgery.
“I am just impressed that I am here right now,” Canning said. “I am in one piece and competing all-around and I am really happy. I have a lot to do but I know what my corrections are.”
While both Canning and Murphy cited minor corrections that need to be made in Canning’s routine, the fifth-year senior’s talents have been getting recognized by more than just her team. Canning was named the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference’s Gymnast of the Week on Jan. 31.
Due to her tenure with the program, Canning has developed into a leader and a mentor for the younger gymnasts on the team.
“For the first couple years she did not talk too much,” Murphy said. “It is nice to see her crack out of her shell. She has definitely matured and stepped out as a leader.”
Murphy added that Canning has already received offers to coach her former club team, something he believes she could excel doing after seeing her influence on the younger gymnasts.
“I have really learned that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” Canning said. “I want to coach college gymnastics. I love the energy, I love being here. I love everything about it.”
Before getting ahead of herself, Canning still has the task of leading the Owls through the rest of their season. Murphy also said that a conference title was in reach as well as Temple’s all-around title which he said Canning can break.
Regardless of the way the season closes, Canning has inspired her teammates with her adversity and perseverance in battling back from a potentially devastating injury.
“It shows me personally that people can come back from those types of injuries,” Williams said. I have never seen it before. I have never seen anybody come back from a surgery like Canning and been able to do what she does. She basically defied the impossible.”
Ibrahim Jacobs can be reached at email@example.com.