North Kitsap gymnastics sees record turnout

North Kitsap junior Lauren Wageman practices her balance beam routine at the Zero Gravity Gym on Wednesday. - Brad Camp/For the Herald
North Kitsap junior Lauren Wageman practices her balance beam routine at the Zero Gravity Gym on Wednesday.
— image credit: Brad Camp/For the Herald

Lauren Wageman is no stranger to tumbling.

She began practicing gymnastics at the age of 4 and as she prepares for her third year on the North Kitsap team, her skill on the mat shows.

“I definitely just love flipping,” Wageman, a junior, said between floor exercises on Wednesday.

Though she has developed her comfort level in all events, she says tumbling on the mat is still her favorite. However, since she began gymnastics again after a break between her club team and high school, even the beam is fun for her.

In 2009, the girls went to the state tournament as a team for the first time. Since then, top competitors such as Melissa Kunold and McKenna Elves have graduated, but an increased interest has given the team a chance this season.

Wageman is one of the returning gymnasts who went to state in 2009, where she placed third with 29.85 points.

“Gymnastics just pumps me up,” Wageman said.

Wageman is not the only one enjoying the winter sport. Thirty students—almost double that of last year—showed up for the team this season, which forced head coach Kris Goodfellow to create two teams.

Traditionally, gymnastics is made up of one team, but Goodfellow split the girls into a varsity and junior varsity team.

Goodfellow has coached gymnastics for 15 years. Before the season begins, she said many students decide they do not want to be on the team, but this season was different.

Though the team is split into categories, the categories do not reflect their skill level as much as their time commitment to the sport, Goodfellow said.

The varsity team practices five times a week for two hours, while the junior varsity practices three times a week.

With this many students on the team potential talent is increased, but it makes it more difficult to coach.

Because many students have either not been on a gymnastics team or taken a leave from the sport, Goodfellow said extra time is needed to learn the basics. The most difficult aspect of the sport is the balance beam.

“For students that have never been on the team before, falling usually ends their beam carrier,” Goodfellow said.

Choreographing for each gymnast will also take time, but Goodfellow has help this season with students ready to take charge.

“I think this team will be better all around,” Wageman said. “We’re pretty well balanced.”

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