Gymnastics is different than most college sports teams that rely heavily on seniors and upperclassmen.
In gymnastics, youth rules since athletes put such a strain on joints it ends up taking a toll.
Collegiate teams all across the country are heavily filled with freshman talent. Central Michigan does too, with eight of its 15 gymnasts being freshmen.
“I’m really excited about this freshman class,” said head coach Jerry Reighard. “There is a lot of talent, it’s a different concept.”
The coaching staff, along with the upcoming medical program, helped freshman Taylor Noonan decide to come to CMU.
“The gymnastics obviously drew me in, but I’m also really into the medical field, and I knew they were building a medical facility here, so that drew me in too,” Noonan said. “Coach Reighard’s way of coaching and the fact that he wants his gymnasts to get better before they leave here really left an impression on me.”
Freshman all-arounder Halle Moraw’s decision was more about the program and its standards.
“They have a really good gymnastics program, and they like to keep learning new skills, which set them apart from a lot of other colleges,” Moraw said.
Others like the close-knit feel the team has.
“I liked the coaches, and I liked the gymnasts. They were more like a family and seemed to bond together,” freshman Kylie Fagan said.
Reighard working with them to get the freshman jitters out.
Noonan, Fagan and Moraw will all be contributing to the team this year, they even have a few goals in mind.
“My personal goal is to be a MAC champion on bars and help my team out as much as I can,” Fagan said.
Noonan’s goal is “to compete every meet on beams and hopefully contribute on bars and floor.”
For Reighard the challenge is preparing his freshmen to compete in unfriendly atmospheres.
“That’s our challenge. The skill level is there, it’s just can they perform in an uncomfortable meet atmosphere,” Reighard said.