WILMINGTON, MA — At last week’s Wilmington School Committee Meeting, Superintendent Dr. Glenn Brand acknowledged interest from students and parents in offering gymnastics as a sport at Wilmington High School.
“The budget for Fiscal Year 2020 has long past us by in terms of developing a [gymnastics program],” said Brand. “But before you know, we’ll be thinking about Fiscal Year 2021… I think this would be something to be very appropriate to consider as part of the budget building process.”
“What’s very important to me is that we pursue developing a mechanism – whether it’s a policy or set of procedures for administration – to work collaboratively with the school committee to make recommendations around which specific sports get offered,” continued Brand. “We have a structure where all the costs associated for athletics — to the tune of hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars — are incorporated into the district’s operating budget. [Adding a sport] requires careful scrutiny and your approval. That’s a process I intend to work closely with our Athletic Director on and come back in the fall to continue this conservation with the Committee.”
Later in the meeting, a student and parent spoke in favor of adding the sport to Wilmington High’s athletics offerings.
“I’ve been doing gymnastics for my whole life, but I quit two weeks ago because I wanted to become more involved with our school,” said Wilmington High freshman Emerson Forsyth. Over the winter, Forsyth chose her competitive club gymnastics over winter cheerleading at WHS. Forsyth wound up winning the state all-around title in her division.
“Kids spend their whole childhood playing sports so they can be really good at them at a high school level and I don’t think it’s fair for gymnasts because they don’t get to excel at their sport at a high school level,” continued Forsyth, who was one of more than a dozen student gymnasts in attendence. “For the gymnasts who want to earn a college scholarship, high school gymnastics is the best way for them to get scouted. It’s the only way they’ll get to learn how to work as a team like you have to do in college gymnastics… I hope that you’ll consider creating a gymnastics program here at WHS.”
“It’s heartbreaking when gymnasts get to high school and they have to choose between the school they love, representing their town with their talent vs. the sport they love,” echoed Nathalie Hayduk, mother of a Wilmington High sophomore. “My daughter had to go through that in her two years here. It’s heart-wrenching. She chose to represent her school as a cheerleader at the expense of her sport as a gymnast… The opportunity for scholarships and earning their varsity letter means a lot to these kids.”
“I understand that there’s practical aspects to [adding a gymnastics team],” continued Hayduk. “You need the budget. You need the facilities. There have been many discussions over several years about how we’d be able to do this. Proposals have been brought to previous Athletic Directors. We have a gym in town – Gym Street USA – that’s brought forward a proposal that’s willing to have the team use their facility. We have experienced high school and private club coaches who have expressed in a competitive high school environment…. We have committed parents asking about the opportunity to fundraise the gap to allow the program to be part of the budget…. Parents would be willing to sit down with the board and school to figure out how to make this happen for our students.”
Hayduk stressed there is more than enough interest in the community to warrant a gymnastics team.
“You clearly have interested students… Over a dozen students showed up to tonight’s meeting and stayed for two hours on their last day of school,” noted Hayduk. “Wilmington is surrounded by several gyms, which means your talent bench is very deep. You’ll find gymnasts at every level – High School, Middle School, Intermediate, Elementary, and Early Childhood Centers. We have a strong gymnastics culture in this town…. Many sadly leave the sport because of the lack of a high school program.”
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