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Janowicz finds new way to help team as student assistant

All-around junior Kasey Janowicz performs her uneven bar routine on March 11 in McGuirk Arena.

Kasey Janowicz will no longer compete with Central Michigan gymnastics, but that doesn't stop her from helping the team. 

Before the 2018 season, the Bay City junior was taken off the roster and listed as a student assistant. This season, she will have surgery on her ulner nerve in her left elbow, restricting her from competition.  

Reighard wanted to find a way for Janowicz to remain part of the gymnastics "family" despite physical limitations.

"It wasn't an easy transition by any means to stop her from competing," Reighard said. "But it's been interesting for her to be in a position as a student athlete who can watch, critique, and give feedback to help our current gymnasts."

Janowicz's transition from player to student assistant also means that she switches to a medical athletic scholarship for the remainder of the season. She wrote a letter to the NCAA stating she hadn't been cleared to compete in gymnastics this season, and asked if her scholarship could be given to one of her teammates. 

The request was accepted and her full-ride athletic scholarship was given to senior Katy Clements in her final season as a Chippewa on Jan. 29.

The scholarship was presented by NFL quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans. Watson recorded a video that was played before the team in a meeting. 

"I cried when it happened because she's earned it," Janowicz said. "She inspires me and everyone else because she puts her heart and soul in every day."

The desire to play still lingers for Janowicz, but now she has a new role to share her knowledge. 

"That's what keeps pushing me every day; knowing that I am still a part of this team," she said. 

Junior Abby Rose Zoeller says Janowicz's presence has been uplifting and encouraging.

"She's able to go into a coaching role and give corrections," Zoeller said. "We know she's knowledgable on what she's talking about. We're able to take the feedback and interpret it like it's coming from a coach."

When Janowicz arrived at CMU in 2016, she won the Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year award, and became a two-time All-MAC gymnast. She earned Second Team All-MAC honors in her freshman season.

This season has been much different for Janowicz, since she has to help from the sideline.

"I've had (five) surgeries in my gymnastics career," Janowicz said. "I was told if I continue competing in gymnastics, I would eventually lose function in my left arm."

Gymnasts are not shy to injury because of the physical demand of the sport. 

"As a gymnast, you know there's going to be injuries," she said. "You can only hope you don't get injured, but in a sport like this, the chances are pretty high."