Shared space brings gymnastics teams together

The men’s and women’s gymnastics teams practice together at McGonigle Hall. Though practice creates a sense of team unity, the Owls are forced to share space. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN
The men’s and women’s gymnastics teams practice together at McGonigle Hall. Though practice creates a sense of team unity, the Owls are forced to share space. | ABI REIMOLD / TTN

Since the gym isn’t large enough to hold the necessary equipment to have a full practice, both the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams have to practice together side by side in connected gyms located at McGonigle Hall 143 and 144.

Although members from both the men’s and women’s gymnastics team admit that sharing practice space and equipment can be challenging at times, both parties have said that it is not something that distracts them from their performances. Rather, the chemistry built from having both teams practicing together every day contributes to the notion that they are not separate entities, but one big team competing together.

When asked if practicing simultaneously with the women’s gymnastics team can be a distraction, men’s co-captain and graduate student Taylor Brana said the contrary.

“I would say it’s the opposite,” Brana said. “I really think one of the cool things about both teams working out at the same time is the fact that there is so much movement going on and it’s just a room of activity. And so when I see a girl going on bars doing her stuff, it kind of motivates me to do my own thing.”

“Whereas if there were less bodies and less action in the gym, it’s not as motivating to work out,” he added.

Although men’s gymnastics is mainly a sport of power and strength while women’s gymnastics contains more finesse and performance, members of both team said they are capable from learning from each other.

“There are certain skills that are pretty similar,” women’s coach Aaron Murphy said. “There are times that I’ll have the girls stop for a second and I’ll say, ‘Hey watch him up there. Watch him do this release move because he does it right and I need you to do that. I want you to mimic it,’ so it’s great they are able to see that and learn it visually.”

“It goes both ways,” senior Alex Tighe said. “Sometimes the girls have a good technical correction that we wouldn’t see, and vice versa so it does benefit in some respect.”

However, the men’s and women’s teams have to share equipment. In gymnastics, both men and women compete in vault and floor exercise. At Temple, the vault and floor have to be shared.

“Sharing the equipment does get tough sometimes,” Murphy said. “It does get a little frustrating. There are some days where I’ll say ‘I wish the guys weren’t here so we could utilize everything the way we want.”’

[blockquote who=”Taylor Brana” what=”graduate student”]If there were less bodies and less action in the gym, it’s not as motivating to work out.[/blockquote]

“Having to share the floor and vault definitely creates some issues on some days,” Tighe said. “Especially when we’re in meet season and everyone is trying to get ready for their own meet, and the girls need something and the guys need something, it does create some conflicts but we do our best to work around it.”

In order to work around it, a scheduling rotation is used by the men’s and women’s teams to minimize any conflict in sharing.

“We have arranged a way to share vault and floor,” men’s coach Fred Turoff said. “For example if [men] have floor first on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, then [women] have it first on Tuesday, Thursday and vice versa, and when [women] are on floor, [men] are on vault.”

Overall though, the atmosphere at a Temple gymnastics practice is as if both teams are really just one big team.

“The guys cheer for the girls, the girls cheer for the guys, we are one big family,” Murphy said.

“We are absolutely a family at Temple,” Brana said. “And I haven’t seen this at any other schools, the fact that the men’s and women’s team have a very strong relationship, we get along with each other really well, and I definitely think that it is one big team rather than two separate teams.”

Sam Matthews can be reached at samuel.matthews@temple.edu.

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