The Whitman-Hanson Regional High gymnastics team had something to cheer about to end its season.
For the second straight year, the Whitman-Hanson Regional High gymnastics team capped its season with the Patriot League Sportsmanship Award.
“It means so much to us to have the other coaches in the league vote for W-H for this special award,” said second-year W-H head coach Alison Vance. “We were shocked and so thankful to receive it two years in a row. The girls are truly the kindest and most respectful group of girls I have coached in my 20-plus years. They are so happy to be a part of this league and love cheering on their fellow competitors.”
This season presented many changes and challenges for the Panthers. The toughest? They could only practice in their competition gym on weekends due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“We had to make use of the gym time to the best of our ability,” Vance explained. “We also got creative and used the Whitman Middle School gym on Wednesdays to go over routines and do some conditioning.”
The Panthers’ strategy worked. They started the season with a score of 123 and finished the winter with a mark of 125.6 in their last virtual meet.
Then at the Patriot League gymnastics championship meet, W-H finished in sixth place, missing fifth by 0.05.
“These girls made me so proud this year,” Vance said. “They always came to practice and meets prepared to give it 100 percent. They never gave up and improved each meet of the season. We had a few setbacks due to COVID, but the girls were so grateful to have a season, that they took those setbacks in stride. I was very impressed with their willingness to try new skills and improve the start value of their routines.”
Freshman Emma Mckeon paced the Panthers in that championship meet, placing sixth in the all-around. But her future with W-H is uncertain, as she was on loan from her club team.
“I know she had a blast this season and really wants to join us again next year,” Vance said. “I plan to speak with her club coach and my athletic director to find out if there is something we can work out next year.”
Mckeon wasn’t the only underclassman who impressed. Sophomore Riley Getchell took sixth on the beam at the championship meet, while freshman Khloe Drake was a contributor all season long.
“Riley had a great season, especially on beam, and continues to work hard,” Vance said. “She already has some exciting goals planned for next year. Khloe Drake improved her scores on beam and floor every meet. She did not compete in vault this year, but absolutely has the capability to. I am looking forward to seeing what new skills she comes up with next year.”
As for departures, senior captains Madison Scaccia and Savannah Poirier leave big shoes to fill — on and off the mat.
“Madison and Savannah not only had their best gymnastics seasons of their high school career, but they both have been the most positive role models for the underclassmen,” Vance said. “These girls are such well-rounded young ladies. They excel in athletics and in academics. They have positive attitudes and know how to encourage and support their teammates. They will be greatly missed next year.”
Vance said she hopes she can continue to build the program up.
“My plan last year was to speak with the eighth graders at both middle schools in June,” Vance said. “However, COVID made that impossible. I am hopeful I can have some sort of meeting with interested 8th graders at the end of this school year to drum up some attention and excitement. We also started a new Facebook page this year, so hopefully people in the community follow us and spread the word.”