MU students hoping to turn gymnastics club into a reality

Marquette+club+gymnastics+meets+in+Johnston+Hall%27s+JPAD+for+a+meeting+on+Feb.+6.+

Photo by Maddy Andresen

Marquette club gymnastics meets in Johnston Hall's JPAD for a meeting on Feb. 6.

Marquette has nearly 40 club sports, but for Damaris Zita and Sydney Callero their favorite one wasn’t represented: gymnastics.

In less than two weeks, Zita and Callero amassed almost 50 members to join club gymnastics.

Zita, a sophomore in the College of Communication, recognized the absence of the club and decided to bring it to Marquette two weeks ago.

“I’ve been a gymnast my whole life, and I saw that Marquette didn’t have any kind of gymnastics program, so I decided to start one,” Zita said. “I started advertising on social media, and I put flyers up and I found (Callero).”

“I saw one of her flyers, I texted her, told her my experience and figured I could help out,” Callero, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “And we’ve been working together ever since to get this off the ground.”

Zita and Callero share dedication and years of experience with the sport.

“I’ve also been a gymnast my whole life,” Callero said. “I love the sport, I’ve coached the sport, I’ve judged the sport.”

Like any club, there are knowledgeable and experienced members alongside newbies on the gymnastics team. For first-year in the College of Arts & Sciences Ashley Castaneda, the club provides a unique opportunity.

“I’ve always wanted to do gymnastics, but my parents always told me ‘No.’ The budget was never there,” Castaneda said. “My friend posted about (the club) on Instagram, and then I messaged (Zita) and I said, ‘I’m interested.'”

Castaneda said she initially had mixed feelings about the club. The experience levels vary for members of this new club, from years of practice to none at all.

“(I was) kind of scared to be honest, because when we had our meeting yesterday, they asked, ‘Who has experience in gymnastics?’ and literally everybody raised their hands, and I was there like, ‘I have no experience,” Castaneda said. “I’m kind of excited to learn something new and do something I’ve been wanting to do for a while.”

Along with learning the sport, Castaneda said she wants to create new relationships with the other club members.

“I want to do it to build friendships,” Castaneda said. “Obviously, I have friends from high school, but everybody just goes their own way, so I want to make new friendships.”

Gymnastics club is currently searching for a facility to practice in.

“Marquette doesn’t have a place for us to practice in, and we have to figure out renter’s fees, leotards, uniforms, chalk and transportation for the next three years. It’s a hefty thing,” Zita said.

Among the steps that come with starting a club sport is the budgeting and planning. To start a club, the founders have to develop a budget plan for the next three years and recruit at least 20 members.

“Gymnastics tends to be a very expensive sport especially because we don’t have a facility to practice in,” Callero said. “Those costs are getting up to $20,000 a year. We’ve had to start a Facebook fundraiser, we’ve been contacting MUSG (Marquette University Student Government), we’ve contacted the Alumni Association. (We’re) just trying to find the money to start the club.”

Zita said she believes this club will garner a lot of interest.

“We want to stress how cool of an opportunity this is,” Zita said. “There are so many people who are so excited about this. We’re doing everything we possibly can to make this a reality.”

Callero said she’s confident the club will be approved within the next month.

With a really strong growth in members since beginning, Zita said she only expects the club’s numbers to climb.

“It has continued to rise every single day,” Zita said. “Right now, we have 49 people — I think we’ll have 50 by the end of the day. I’m pretty sure this will continue to grow because people are excited about this.”

“It is a growing sport. It is a very big worldwide sport, so I’m hoping we will get more members,” Callero said.

For the rest of the year, Callero and Zita said they are hoping to have new members reach out through their emails and their social media pages.

“We think it’s a great opportunity, and we love all the help we can get, whether that’s from an alumni or an equipment donation,” Callero said. “Just getting the word out there and having people help us out would be great.”