Tumultuous season ends at ECAC Championships

Its 2015 campaign came to a conclusion on Saturday afternoon in New Haven, Connecticut at the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championships. Temple finished in fifth place out of six schools with a total score of 192.075.

Despite the fifth-place finish, the score was one of the higher outputs for the Owls this season.  Interim coach Deirdre Mattocks Bertotti said her team went out strong.

“It was definitely a good performance to end with,” Mattocks Bertotti said. “I felt more than any other meet, the girls were behind each other 100 percent.”

For senior Stephanie Verry, Saturday marked the end of her career as an Owl. She shared the coach’s sentiments about finishing on a high note.

“It was definitely a good meet to end on,” Verry said. “What I’ll remember about it is that everyone just put everything aside for the whole length of the meet.”

The Owls were admittedly distracted after coach Aaron Murphy was suspended in the middle of the season for a violation of athletic department policy. Mattocks Bertotti assumed full coaching duties for the rest of the season and expected struggles followed.

Murphy was the voice the Owls grew accustomed to hearing. The confidence of the team went down while adjusting to a new voice. But, the team tried to help Mattocks Bertotti adjust as much as she tried to help it and on Saturday, Mattocks Bertotti was given the ECAC assistant coach of the year award.

“It’s just showing that all the hard work I did for the team and what the team has done for me really paid off,” Mattocks Bertotti said of receiving the award.

Murphy had been the primary coach for the team on the uneven bars while Mattocks Bertotti specialized in coaching the team on the balance beam.  Following Murphy’s suspension, the Owls’ scores on the uneven bars dipped significantly.

Former Temple gymnast Bill Roth was brought in to help supplement the coaching duties. His influence was most impactful on the bars, though it remained the Owls’ lowest scoring event in most meets.

Verry added that adjustment from Murphy to Mattocks Bertotti was especially difficult on the bars.

“It was definitely a huge distraction,” Verry said. “It affected all of us and our gymnastics. It took us a long time to adjust.”

However, things seemed to come together for the Owls on Saturday as they scored 47.400 on the bars. Junior Hannah Popper contributed with a 9.600 in the event and noted that a good week of practice helped.

“I think the confidence level was much better this week than it was in the past,” Popper said.

Mattocks Bertotti felt the 2015 season was a learning experience for her and had one major takeaway.

“Just to have confidence in this team and have confidence in myself, knowing that the decisions the coaching staff is making are the right ones.”

Greg Frank can be reached at greg.frank@temple.edu or on Twitter @g_frank6.

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