Women’s gymnastics: looking ahead


Caleb Geer

In the women’s first season, they unfortunately missed the mark to qualify for the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship.

by Jo Lamb, Feature Editor

Simpson Athletics announced they would add a women’s gymnastics team to their list of sports in the fall of 2021, and now, a year and a half later, the team has completed its first season.

It has been a journey for the team that has literally traveled to the far stretches of the nation to compete.

“It was a great first year,” women’s gymnastics head coach Emily Barret Payne said. “In terms of anything rough that happened, I honestly think it was a really smooth season. We had no travel issues and no snow issues, which I was kind of nervous about.”

Although the team had no travel issues this year, there were a couple of injuries that set the team back.

“I’d say I had a few injuries that I was not planning on having,” freshman Brooklen Morgan said. “It kind of just threw me for a loop but I think it made me stronger and more confident as a whole going out there and competing, knowing that I can come back from something I was not expecting to happen.”

Luckily, there were plenty of women on the team ready to step up when a teammate was injured.

“I think, as a coach, I had an idea going in what our lineups would look like and who would compete at each event. Then it ended up not being exactly like that,” Payne said. “The team did a great job with stepping up and filling those injury spots and just being ready too. I think they did a really good job of knowing that these things happen, and you might be called upon to compete in a routine that you didn’t expect to be competing in.”

Despite any injuries that occurred this season, the team was still able to grow and find its place within the Simpson Athletics community.

“I feel like at the beginning of the year, it was hard to let loose and have fun because we were all so nervous and we didn’t want to do anything wrong,” freshman Kaley Bristow said. “By the end of the season, it really felt like we could let loose and have fun. Our teams showed that because we got higher scores and we were more up there with the other teams; at the same level as them.”

According to Payne, there are so few Division III gymnastics teams in the country there is no official NCAA Division III women’s gymnastics national competition and instead they have what is called the National Collegiate Gymnastics Association Championship. Unfortunately, the women’s gymnastics team was not eligible to qualify this year.

“But we will next year,” Payne said. “So, our goal is to get there as a team and, if not, to get some individuals in there,” 

Though the women’s gymnastics team is officially in their off-season, they’re still practicing just as hard and, at this time, have high hopes for their incoming class of recruits.

“They have open gym time where they can go in and work on new skills and kind of work on fixing some of the skills that they competed in this year,” Payne says. “Next year…we’re bringing in seven freshmen, which is going to be really exciting. So, we’re just working on trying to pull everyone together as a team over the summer and in the fall and just get ready for next season with some higher difficulty, cleaner routines, more consistency and working on qualifying for nationals next year.”