Sophistication, maturity, hard work and incredible talent.
Those are the assets that senior Britney Blackstone has brought to the gym this winter in her first season as a member of the Whitman-Hanson Regional High gymnastics team.
“Her work ethic is incredible,” W-H head coach Rachel Sferruzza said. “She’s always working, you don’t have to ask her to do anything, so she is definitely a leader by example.”
Through the Panthers’ first five meets – in which they are 8-1 – Blackstone has posted the highest all-around score in each one.
“She has certainly stepped up in a role where she shows the other girls how hard work can really pay off,” Sferruzza said. “She kind of brings a life to our team which we didn’t have before, where the girls are really cheering her on. They haven’t had someone on the team do gymnastics this big before, so they get really excited for her and we’re all really proud of her.”
In W-H’s first meet of the season Dec. 19, Blackstone boasted a 34.7 all-around score as the Panthers swept the meet, to open the winter 3-0. The three wins matched the club’s win total of last season, which was its first year back from reinstatement.
While it may be Blackstone’s inaugural campaign donning a Panther uniform, she is no stranger to gymnastics. She first hit the floor when she was 6 years old at Kathy Corrigan’s School of Gymnastics and has competed ever since. Last year, she was sticking her routines at Head Over Heels Gymnastics before having a change of heart.
“I hadn’t done a high school sport yet and I was getting a little tired of my club sport,” Blackstone explained on her decision to join the Panthers this season. “It was a lot of time and stuff so I decided to quit that and start high school.”
Sferruzza said that while she didn’t know Blackstone personally last season, she did know of her, but she’s ecstatic she chose to join them this time around.
“Her mother was actually pretty instrumental in pushing for the program at Whitman-Hanson, and I know Britney was really contemplating doing it last year, although her club team was pretty strict and it would have been a lot of juggle along with keeping up her grades, she’s a good student as well,” the head coach said. “So, I understand that mental struggle in doing one versus the other.”
Sferruzza said as the winter’s gone on, they’ve added difficulty to Blackstone’s routines, which can be seen by her all-around marks, as she’s hit 35.4 or more in two of the past three meets.
“We’ve tweaked them a little bit to build up her scores,” Sferruzza explained. “We’ve worked hard on cleaning up her routines and making sure that she is hitting the elements and she has gotten better through the season.”
As for growth, Blackstone acknowledged she still has plenty of room for it as the season enters the homestretch.
“I want to pike my vault, to stick beam because that hasn’t been going so well and I want to get my double full back on floor,” Blackstone said.