While there are many armchair fans of televised gymnastics, it’s pretty safe to say that 99 percent of the student population at Fox Chapel Area High School has never attended one of the girls’ gymnastics team’s meets. It’s not necessarily that there’s a lack of interest in the sport, but the trend to hold high school practices and meets off site means most teams operate in relative anonymity and draw little media coverage to generate a fan base.
That’s perfectly okay with second-year head coach Nadine Buchanan and her team, who rather like the low-pressure environment where they feel a certain amount of freedom to perform just because they enjoy the sport.
Coach Buchanan has been able to grow the program since she took over two years ago, partly because of her strong connections with the world of club gymnastics, including her own club, Trinity Gymnastics. Those contacts are probably a reason why there was an increase in the number of freshmen who came out for the team this year.
“I’m very pleased with the team,” says the coach, who was an accomplished gymnast as a youth and competed for Penn State in her college days. “The girls are hard-working and the seniors – Sarah Hamilton, Christina Massalski, Brooke Stillion, and Dixon Veltri – are all great examples for the younger girls.”
The team also had more WPIAL championship qualifiers this year than last. Seven gymnasts advanced in a combined total of 16 events. The qualifiers are Christina and Taylor on vault, beam, and floor, and Dixon on vault, bars, beam, and floor. Four sophomores also qualified: Nicole Garcia-Tunon for floor exercise, Rachel Himmel on vault, and Maggie McCoy on the vault and beam.
Other team members include junior Vicki Mountz, sophomores Morgan Anderson and Michela Nicholas, and freshmen Devon Clark, Zoe Spodek, Kaylyn Tomey, and Lizzie Wonderley.
Coach Buchanan adds, “With so many of the underclassmen coming in with club experience, I’m anticipating we’ll have some great opportunities in the next few years.”