Gymnastics to be club sport in 2018-19

Gymnastics+to+be+club+sport+in+2018-19

Photo courtesy Rick Gherardi.

The Roger Williams University Gymnastics Club will attain club sport status beginning in the 2018-19 academic year, as approved by the Clubs & Organizations Committee in late January.

The agreement of gymnastics moving from strictly a club to club sport status is contingent on the club sport competing in a minimum of four competitive events, not including Nationals, in the 2018-19 academic year, and competing in six events the following year.

Gymnastics Club President Abby Gherardi, a junior criminal justice major, said she was excited about the transition.

“We are just really excited to be out there for the Hawks,” Gherardi said. “We get a lot of different clubs reaching out to us to compete with them for the invitationals, so it’s something like people know that we’re here, but I don’t think a lot of people on campus know that we are. We just love the sport and it’s fun to do.”

Gymnastics Club applied for club sport status in November of last semester, one of three clubs to apply, but it wasn’t until Feb. 1 that they were notified they had won the bid. 

Gherardi and her team sought the change for an opportunity to compete in more than the two competitions per year they were limited to, as well as a desire for an increase in funding.

Student Programs & Leadership has been a significant contributor to the Gymnastics Club’s expenses, but club members have still had to pay hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for airfare to the Nationals competition in Columbus, Ohio in April of 2017, as well as uniforms. With the change to club sport status, the out-of-pocket amount should decrease with more funding from the athletics department, but how much more has yet to be determined.

The Gymnastics Club was founded in the fall of 2014 by Class of 2017 graduate Gina Pomponi. The club’s purpose was to give avid and casual gymnasts on the RWU campus a safe and welcoming atmosphere to practice the sport. 

Of the 50 people registered to the club, more than a third of them attend practices regularly at East Bay Gymnastics in Bristol and have been competitive gymnasts for most of their lives. 

The club’s success has been well documented, with members performing well in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Invitational in February 2017, the National Association of Intercollegiate Gymnastics Clubs (NAIGC) Nationals competition in Columbus last year, and the Rhett’s Bowl at Boston University last December.

Gymnastics also won the Student Programs & Leadership Outstanding Club of the Year Award for 2016-17.

The team will focus their attention on the NAIGC competition this April in Fort Worth, Texas.

Gymnastics Club Vice President Alexa Kite, a junior marketing major, said she looked forward to what the future holds for the club.

“Gymnastics Club attaining club sport status was a huge surprise for us,” Kite said. “This club was only started four years ago by Gina Pomponi and we have worked hard to get where we are. We couldn’t have done it without her, she set the foundation for this club. Moving forward we will be able to compete at many more competitions, which will help us to meet other schools and build relationships. NAIGC is a great organization that allows gymnastics clubs for around the country to come together and not only compete but also build friendships. Being a part of this organization will definitely help in our transition. We are all so excited and we can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish!”