After recreational gymnastics classes sparked their love for the sport at three years old, sisters Hannah Stallings and Sarah Stallings made their college debut together 15 years later for Temple University gymnastics.
“A major reason I chose Temple was because I really liked the program and the coaches,” said Hannah. “The fact that I could come with Sarah was a big factor.”
The twins didn’t think it would be possible to continue their gymnastics career together, Sarah said. As the freshmen begin their journey on North Broad, Sarah and Hannah hope their sibling support will help perfect their strengths and combat their weaknesses at Temple.
All-around competitor Sarah made her debut for the Owls in the Chows Winter Classic on Jan. 15. She tied for first in uneven bars with a score of 9.8 and posted a 9.725 on vault during the road meet.
In the first meet of the season, all-around competitor Hannah was named the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Rookie of the Week for her all-around performance in the Keystone Classic. She won the all around in her first collegiate meet, with a final score of 38.900.
“The biggest thing that impresses me the most is that they’re not competing like freshmen,” said head coach Josh Nilson. “They are competing like veterans. They work hard in the gym and it shows.”
Two years ago, Nilson wanted both sisters on Temple’s team because of their hard work and attention to detail, but at the time there was only one spot available. When talking to the girls, Nilson didn’t know how to choose between them, he said.
Luckily, by the time the twins were seniors, two spots became available on Temple’s roster. The Stallings knew they couldn’t pass up the opportunity of competing together because they’ve always made each other better, Sarah said.
The sisters were homeschooled in Raleigh, North Carolina. They spent most of their time practicing and competing in club competitions at Raleigh School of Gymnastics in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sarah’s favorite memory of competing was with Hannah at nationals, when they competed in their last high school meet, Sarah said.
“I really wanted to make nationals that year because I had never been,” Sarah added. “I was first alternate and I got called in because someone wasn’t able to go. It was really exciting to have our last high school meet and be able to do it together one last time.”
Hannah and Sarah agreed competing in gymnastics never made them too competitive with each other, and it actually helped them improve their areas of weakness, Hannah said.
The two athletes have strengths in different areas. Sarah’s strong suit is bars, and Hannah’s specialty is vault, but both like balance beam the best, Hannah said.
“We each have certain struggles,” Hannah added. “We’ve always tried to just be a source of encouragement to each other and just remind each other that it would work out.”
Because the twins competed in gymnastics together for years, they know how to act as coaches to each other.
When Sarah feels nervous about doing a skill, she’ll ask Hannah to watch her, which gives Sarah’s confidence knowing her sister has her back, Sarah said.
“We can tell when one needs encouragement, when we maybe need to be left alone for a minute, and we know each other well enough to know how to support one another,” Sarah added.
Having someone show support and guidance from the sideline is important to have in college gymnastics, and Hannah and Sarah show that bond by watching each other compete while at practices and meets.
The sisters have team and personal goals for this season, like competing in nationals, but for now they’re looking to train and build up their skills together instead of worrying about a specific score, Hannah said.
“Take it one routine at a time,” Sarah said.