At the age of 16, Rachel Page found herself being recruited by Cirque du Soleil to be in their first United States show, “Saltimbanco,” she said.
Twenty-seven years later with more than 25 years experience coaching Junior Olympics, Page found her way to Temple University.
Temple gymnastics hired Page on Sept. 14 to be a volunteer assistant coach starting this coming spring season, though a schedule for it has not yet been announced.
“My knowledge and experience coming in will definitely be a positive with learning to diversify my coaching with gymnasts coming from all over the country,” Page said.
She believes her coaching will resonate with the student-athletes because she knows what it is like to compete at a high level, Page added.
Page competed as a former level 10 and elite gymnast and most recently coached at Gymnastix Academy, where she helped gymnasts compete for national qualifiers and regional qualifiers.
Head coach Josh Nilson said Page can be an important piece of the team this season, he said.
“We have a lot of different abilities and a lot of different strengths and weaknesses on the team,” Nilson added. “Over the last 25 years, she’s worked with everybody. So that’s going to help us take us to the next level.”
Page is working with Temple’s gymnasts in two groups of 25 due to COVID-19 protocols.
Despite the challenge of training with two different groups, Nilson believes Page is bringing positive energy to practices, he said.
“Me and Rachel are on the same page with technique, but beyond that, the positivity is there, especially this year, we cannot spend any time you know in the victim mentality at all,” Nilson added. “We can’t spend any time on that, and Rachel just doesn’t.”
Senior all-around captain Delaney Garin believes Page is helping the team be more cohesive during practices, she said.
“I think as a program we already have great energy,” Garin said. “But it’s nice to have one more additional person in the gym that can root us on.”
Page’s effort to connect with the team stands out during practice because she takes time to talk with each gymnast before practice and tries to know them on a personal level, said junior all-around Ariana Castrence.
“She makes an effort and that’s what counts, you can tell she cares, so she could just come in the gym and just simply coach and have cut it off there and have no other conversations,” Castrence added. “But she cares further and takes it further than that, so we appreciate that.”
Garin believes the team will win regional championships and Page “will allow them to be pushed in the right direction” and be a “great asset,” Garin said.
“I think our bounds are endless,” Garin added. “We have a really really strong team this year. And I think, you know, regionals obviously, it’s just a given at this point. But also I just think that it’s just going to be really fun for us because of all the talent that we have.”
The team’s camaraderie and general excitement for the sport is what’s stuck out to Page since she began coaching practices, she said.
“I love coming into the gym and seeing the excitement and the bonding of the team and seeing them cheer each other on,” Page said.