Delaney Garin remembers the surprise she and her teammates felt when their season abruptly ended in March.
“So we were going to William & Mary and on Thursday we got the notice that it was going to be canceled,” said Garin, a senior captain on Temple University’s women’s gymnastics team. “And then they canceled ECAC’s like 30 minutes later and that was the day that our season ended.”
Temple was declared Eastern College Athletic Conference champions this year due to their top National Qualifying Score after the championship was canceled due to COVID-19, according to an ECAC release. Now, Temple’s team, hungry for another ECAC Championship, is anxiously awaiting the announcement of the 2021 season schedule as coaches plan to get their players back on mats when practice resumes.
The team, which won the 2019 ECAC Championship after finishing the season with a 19-14 overall record and 8-1 ECAC record, had won 14 games in 2020 before COVID-19 forced college sports across the nation to shut down.
“I wish I could say that I was planning on it,” said head coach Josh Nilson. “I mean it took us by surprise… we were moving forward consciously. You know, we were told that we could continue the season and then it was abruptly shut off.”
“I think we’re going to see a lot of injuries in gymnastics this year,” Nilson said.
The coaching staff plans to add one extra training day a week but still take things slow, Nilson said.
“We’re going to lighten the load up and give them another solid month to get back into it,” Nilson added.
Some of the gymnasts stayed in shape and sharpened their skills during the time off at home, said junior Ariana Castrence.
Despite that, there is some concern amongst the players about getting back into their “flow” since they have had so much time off, said Garin, who was named to the First Team All-ECAC on beam and Second Team All-ECAC on bars in 2020.
“It’s a little bit relaxing to know that literally everyone is going through the same thing,” Castrence added.
In 2020, Castrence tied or set new career-bests in all four events and the all-around, broke the program’s all-around record, and ended the year leading the ECAC in NQS in the all-around, vault, and floor.
There are some personal accolades the team is focusing on for this coming season, said sophomore Grace Busch.
“I had goals set for 9.8’s on each event and so this year I want 9.85’s or 9.9’s… I just don’t want to settle for anything, I just want to keep getting better and keep improving for the team,” Brooks said.”Just get better every day.”
The team is “excited” to get back to campus and start practicing together again while they try to repeat as ECAC champions, Garin said.
“So, I think once we’re all back on campus and we can actually physically be together, it’ll be very rewarding and hopefully we can channel that towards us working cohesively as a team,” Castrence said.
“I definitely will be in the moment every single second,” said sophomore kinesiology major Madison Brooks, reflecting on the number of times that she watched her routines and videos while at home. “I just can’t wait to be back in the gym.”