Healthy squad looks forward to strong start
Coming off a season plagued by injuries, head gymnastics coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton is encouraged by her team's conditioning and health heading into the season.
"We are looking forward to a much better season than last year," Chollet-Norton said. "We didn't start like we did last year; we had so many injuries."
She credits her team's health to a new approach to conditioning this year. While always cognizant of her team's wellbeing, Chollet-Norton recognized that a change in the conditioning program would be beneficial.
"In the past, we might have pushed them a little too far," she said. "We are being a little smarter this year about the girls taking care of their bodies."
One athlete returning from injury that should make an impact is junior Leigh Heinbaugh. After an injury-plagued sophomore year and a minor setback in preparation for the season, Heinbaugh worked herself back into shape.
"Leigh is back up and has all her beam skills back," Chollet-Norton said. "She's going to be a huge person for us on beam."
Another impact athlete returning from injury is senior Laura Sevarino, who Chollet-Norton believes is a boost for the team because of her versatile abilities.
"Having Laura back in the lineup will be huge because she is a major all-arounder," the coach said.
In addition to having athletes returning from injuries, the Scarlet Knights boast a strong freshmen class. Chollet-Norton expects big performances from Jenna Zito, Jayne Jeffreys, Nicole Romano and Emma-Rose Trentacosti.
"They are all New Jersey girls who are outstanding all-arounders," Chollet-Norton said.
With the talent that the team possesses, she believes that they can start to both improve on last season and as a program moving forward.
"We are hoping to get close to making regionals this year and we want to go to nationals as a team," Chollet-Norton said.
The excitement that Chollet-Norton feels has spread to her athletes. Senior Prishani Seebadri sees the talent and improved preparation of the team as well.
"We have a couple of very good incoming freshman and we aren't having trouble with injuries," Seebadri said. "We have the potential and experience to make this season a great one."
This season may prove to have far reaching implications for the future of the program. A constant struggle for the gymnastics program has been competing with programs that are fully funded. Recently, the monetary support for the gymnastics team has improved, but Chollet-Norton is thinking of the future.
"In the past, we just didn't have the scholarship dollars allocated," she said. "Tim [Pernetti] is beginning to help the sport and it's starting to get better."
As the support for the program improves, Chollet-Norton believes that the sky is the limit, beginning with this year.
"This year we were able to sign [athletes] early because we were able to offer a full ride," Chollet-Norton said. "It's getting very exciting."