The Whitman-Hanson Regional High gymnastics team has a new coach. Alison Vance will take over the reins of the team this winter.
The Express caught up with Vance to get her outlook on the state of the program and find out how she aims to build it up.
Q: For those who don’t know, what’s your connection to the Whitman-Hanson Regional School District?
A: “I have been a seventh grade math teacher for 16 years at Whitman Middle School.”
Q: What’s your background in gymnastics?
A: “I was a former competitive and high school gymnast. I coached recreational gymnastics for six years, and I was the coach of the Excel competition teams at Mass Gymnastics Center in Pembroke for the previous 13 years.”
Q: What makes this new role a good fit for you?
A: “I am finally at a place in my life where I can dedicate the amount of time needed to coach this program. I stepped down from coaching the Excel teams last June. My twin daughters are 10 and can understand why I might be out of the house several nights a week. My husband is super supportive and able to help bring our daughters to their various activities while I am coaching. I am ready to take on this new challenge.”
Q: What do you feel like you bring to this program?
A: “I bring a lot of gymnastics coaching experience to this program. I also bring a lot of experience with building strong and supportive relationships with my students/gymnasts.”
Q: Participation is obviously a concern in gymnastics. How do you hope to grow the sport at W-H?
A: “This is a relatively new program for W-H and we have struggled to get students to participate. We have sent emails, posted on social media, made announcements at school, etc. One of the challenges is that there are not any gymnastics studios in the two towns to recruit kids from. We have to spread the word to the several different gyms in the South Shore area. Also, not all gymnastics studios are supportive of their gymnasts participating in high school gymnastics, which is a real shame. We are hoping that more students will get involved now that I am able to spread the word at Whitman Middle School.
“I have several close colleagues at Hanson Middle School that I am hoping to spread the word for us as well. I am hopeful that girls with gymnastics, cheerleading, tumbling or dancing experience will see how our team is improving each year and want to join us next year.”
Q: What are your short-term goals for the program?
A: “With such a small and young team, I am hoping that this is a year for us to spread the word about the program and encourage other girls with gymnastics experience to get involved going forward. I am hopeful that they will see the progress we are making in our league and want to join us in the future. For this year, I am hoping the veteran girls improve upon their scores from last year. For the freshmen, I want to see them become familiar with the very different rules of high school gymnastics and get as much competition experience as possible.”
Q: Five years from now, where do you want this program to be?
A: “Five years from now I would like to see this team have as many members as some of the other south shore teams. I would like us to be competitive in our league and be able to bring some gymnasts to the state individuals. I plan on sticking around as the coach for a long time, so I am hoping that will help make a difference, too.”