Aaron Murphy has been walking through Temple’s campus as the coach of the women’s gymnastics team for seven years now, not that many students know it.
“It’s bad enough that there are cases that I’ve been walking around campus, and I happen to have a Temple gymnastics sweatshirt on and someone comes up to me and goes, ‘Oh, we have gymnastics at Temple?’” Murphy said.
Due to budgetary confinements and the way gymnastics is judged, the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams have a total of three home meets this season combined. That ranks last among Temple sports teams that have the ability to host home events on Main Campus.
Using women’s gymnastics lone home meet of the season, the Ken Anderson Memorial Invitational as an example, the total cost of hosting the event was $8,885, Murphy said. That total came from the cost to set up the equipment for the event, and to pay judges, announcers and scorekeepers.
Union workers must be paid to set up the mats, vault, bars, balance beam and other necessary equipment that it takes to host a gymnastics meet. Murphy said the cost of set-up for the Ken Anderson Memorial Invite totaled $6,200.
In addition to the set-up costs, judges must be brought in, paid for their services and compensated for travel. A Division I gymnastics meet is only allowed to have half of the judges within a 50-mile radius to the school to score the competition. Since the Ken Anderson Memorial Invite had four events running, eight judges – two for each event – had to be brought in. Four judges came from within a 50-mile radius of Temple and four came from outside 50 miles.
All judges are compensated for travel. For the Ken Anderson Memorial Invite, the cost of judge’s expenses totaled $2,385, Murphy said.
In addition, Temple paid $300 for scoreboard operators and announcers, bringing the total to $8,885 for the women’s team’s only home meet of the season.
That $8,885 is a direct hit on the women’s gymnastics budget, making it very hard to schedule more than a couple of home meets per season. However, Senior Associate Athletic Director Kristen Foley said the number of home meets per season is a decision that is made by coaches.
“We allow our coaches to decide the scheduling parameters,” Foley said. “We allocate a certain budget for all of our sports and they certainly can decide how many home and away meets that they want.”
Foley declined to specify the budget details for gymnastics or other sports.
With the money that men’s and women’s gymnastics saves by not having frequent home meets, they are able to travel all across the country to compete. Most notably on the gymnastics schedule this year are trips to Illinois, Colorado and California.
Even though men’s and women’s gymnastics competes so often on the road, both sides agree that it does not affect their performance.
“We leave in enough time beforehand so we can get a good night’s rest before,” men’s coach Fred Turoff said. “So it won’t affect the competition, we’re OK with that and we’re used to it.”
“I think that at this level, these gymnasts have been trained so well that they can do a routine pretty much any time of the day whenever called on,” Murphy said. “Whether it’s us getting out of a bus or climbing out of a 15 passenger van, at this point, whatever the circumstance, they should be able to get out and perform.”
Student-athletes on the men’s and women’s gymnastics teams said that while they’d like to have more meets on campus, they accept traveling as a reality of competing in a Division I sport.
“It doesn’t really bother me traveling a lot,” John Leonard, a junior on the men’s gymnastics team, said. “It does take up a lot of time, but that doesn’t really affect me too much.”
“I think it would be great to have more home meets,” Heather Zaniewski, a junior and team captain of the women’s team, said. “It would be a lot better to have that home atmosphere, the home crowd and everything. It is obviously a lot easier and it makes you a lot more excited to be there. Just not having to travel and be right at home, it really makes your competition and the spirit of the whole entire team a lot better.”
Although both Turoff and Murphy agree that traveling does not affect their team’s performances, both also agree that they would like to have more home meets if the budget could allow it.
“It would be nice [to have more home meets],” Turoff said. “But I won’t do it unless the budget gets increased, and it’s just one of those things that I have to work with; all of us coaches have to work with it.”
With extra budget money for home meets, Murphy talked about his desire for Temple to host a dual meet, meaning men’s and women’s gymnastics would compete simultaneously against another school that also has a men’s and women’s gymnastics program.
“[Turoff] would bring in a men’s team, and I would bring in the women’s team and we would compete together at the same time,” Murphy said. “And if I was able to have that, oh my gosh, it would be killer.”
“I think that it would be awesome to have more home meets because we would have more recognition,” Murphy added. “People would know that our men’s and women’s programs exist here.”
Samuel Matthews can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.