The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Gymnastics club prioritizing community over competition

Marquette gymnastics club practices at Infinite Gymnastics. (Photo courtesy of Marquette gymnastics club).

When Joanna Lee took over the Marquette club gymnastics team — when it was only one year old — she originally intended for the club to compete, but now the mission is much broader within the Marquette community.

“As the years have gone on, there are a lot of people that are interested in the sport, but don’t have prior experience. I’ve realized that this is more about building community than winning a competition,” Lee, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, said. “That’s what I really like about our club now is that, because we don’t require experience, it makes it a lot more accessible for just the general body of Marquette to come and just have a different sport to try.”

The club practices are open to all skill levels, and the e-board members help train the new members who are less experienced, which allows them to try new events for the first time.

“It’s really fun seeing people try it for the first time, and they’re like ‘I can’t do a handstand’, and at the end of the practice ‘maybe I can do that now, and maybe I’ll do a cartwheel’, especially if they can get the skill by the end of practice, is really rewarding,” treasurer Natalie Smolinski, a junior in the College of Health Sciences, said. 

Despite the differences in gymnastics events, the club still builds community by focusing on including everyone through group activities and the commonalities that the sport provides its members.

Each practice starts with a group stretching session and ends with a group game or conditioning. Emily Sterkel, a senior in the College of Health Sciences, said this practice structure helps members meet other people and helps create the community feel of the club. 

“That’s really fun, just in practice with all of us all together, and working with someone else and meeting some of the other people that join as well, so pretty fun, pretty intense,” Sterkel said. 

Lee said that there was one practice where the group did a relay race after practice, where they would run around the gym, over the beams, through the pit and on the trampoline.

“A lot of it is things we did as children, having fun as a child again, letting everything go and feeling like a kid again,” Lee said.

One of the hurdles the club initially faced was finding a place to practice, with there not being a gymnastics space on campus. To solve this problem, the club went to Infinite Gymnastics in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, a gym 20 minutes north of campus. The club has been practicing there for the past couple of years as it found its footing, and it has built a relationship with the owner of the facility.

Club leaders drive members to practice, with each participant paying a fee to cover the cost of utilizing Infinite Gymnastics’ practice space. The club has around 10-20 participants per practice.

Next semester, the club plans to attend a competitive club gymnastics meet to see Wisconsin compete. In order to compete, you have to be a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs, which Marquette is not. Lee said she hopes that going to Wisconsin would be a potential springboard into that, if the club decides to pursue a competitive side of it in years to come.

“So we’re trying to go as an individual just for fun, where we won’t be an official part of the meet,” Lee said. “Just to see how they work, or how they organize the college meets.”

As for now though, the team strives to continue to grow gymnastics in the Marquette community.

This article was written by Mikey Severson. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MikeySeversonMU.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
About the Contributor
Mikey Severson
Mikey Severson, Sports Reporter
Mikey Severson is a first year from Saint Charles, Illinois studying journalism and minoring in sports management. He is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. At St. Charles East High School, he played football, tennis and managed the boys' basketball team. Outside of the Wire, he enjoys professional football, playing tennis, trying new foods and meeting new people. He is excited to cover Marquette athletics, go to games and interview players & coaches post-game.

Comments (0)

All Marquette Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *