Spotlight – Gymnastics

Jenn Zaratan

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Not offered at any of the other FUHSD schools, gymnastics is a sport unique to Cupertino and vastly dissimilar to other sports on campus. The four apparatuses  — beam, uneven bars, vault, and floor exercise  — are all physically and mentally challenging in their own way, applying a multitude of different muscles and skill sets.  

The sport requires expensive equipment and a facility that few schools can provide. As one of the few schools that can provide such necessities for the sport, the Cupertino gym welcomes not only students from CHS but also those from other schools in the district. Several gymnasts from Homestead High School, who participate in club gymnastics but also wish to compete for their school, occasionally come to Cupertino’s gym to train.  

For Cupertino’s own varsity team, backgrounds and skill levels vary from gymnast to gymnast. Some, like team captains Violet Williams and Tiffany Zheng, have grown up doing club gymnastics before quitting, and join the school’s team with high-level skills. For others, Cupertino’s gymnastics program is their first competitive exposure to the sport.     

Unlike many of the other sports offered on campus, gymnastics emphasizes consistency; each routine is memorized and performed in the exact same way for every meet, as gymnasts strive to perfect their own routines rather than beating an opponent. Throughout the season, the gymnasts often work on gaining new skills along with perfecting ones they already have. With flips on a four-inch beam, or handstands on a bar eight feet high, fear and the mental strength to fight it play a major role in the sport as well.  

Said Zheng, “A lot of the people have the strength to do a skill and they know how to do it, but they can’t get themselves to go up on the apparatus and actually go for it. A lot of times, people do drills on the ground, but they’re not able to do it on the actual beam because of the fear factor. I think you need to have somewhat of a big and scary fall before you can get over your fear, so you know you can do again.”

In order to determine a winning school, scores are tabulated for all members of the team, but they are also tabulated on an individual basis as winners for each event and all-around are also recognized.

“I would say gymnastics is very much a team sport as any other. Technically you don’t rely on your other teammates to help you win, but when it comes to practices and meets they’re there to support you, which is what any team is supposed to do,” said Williams.

As of now, the wrestling team still practices the mat room after school; as a result, both the varsity and JV gymnastics teams have late practices starting at 6:30p.m. and ending at 8p.m. Both beams and the vault have to be arranged at the beginning and end of every practice. The uneven bars require much more effort to set up, and without them, the gymnasts must make do and focus on other apparatuses. Unlike a typical gymnastics facility, another layer of foam mat substitutes for a floor with springs, and a training vault is used in place of a traditional one.

Said Williams, “When we have competitions at our gym, we have the advantage because we’re more used to the mat floor than the other teams. But when we go away to compete on spring floors, the new girls or people who haven’t yet had the experience on the spring floors have to get adjusted to it right then.”

After more than a month of memorizing and fine-tuning their routines, the gymnasts’ hard work will finally be visible as they compete against St. Francis and Half Moon Bay High School in a home meet.

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