The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

College Gym: Where Are We on This?

Is there a season? What’s happening? Who is she? Does she go here anymore?

As we stand right now, a majority of the top-conference teams have been able to return to campus and are preparing as if there is going to be a season, albeit potentially a modified one. Typically by this point, the teams would have released their season schedules, but very few have done so thus far because of, um, er, well…all the questions? Such as, is there a season? The deadline for schedule submission was extended to October 29 and likely beyond as everyone tries to figure out what they’re doing, when they can start, what schools can host meets and when, and…

Some of us (won’t say who) are hoping for an official announcement that the entire season will be held without fans because of the social experiment we would get into what happens to scoring when teams that usually have 10,000 people there suddenly don’t have 10,000 people there. Or, I mean, because of the safety. That.

Last week, the NCAA announced that athletes currently on rosters for the 2021 season will receive an extra year of eligibility, essentially meaning that the 2021 season won’t count against their four years of competition time, whether they compete or not. On the one hand, this is excellent in allowing athletes the flexibility to look out for themselves—or go for the Olympics—without being worried about wasting eligibility time. For instance, Brooklyn Moors previously announced that she would be redshirting the upcoming season, but with this decision, 2021 does not have to count as her redshirt year, should she later need to take a redshirt year because of an injury.

On the other hand, it does make one think, “hey, so, are you planning on there not being a season?” Because on the third hand (what, you didn’t grow a third hand during COVID), if there does end up being some manner of relatively normal season in 2021 that concludes with a championship, then those who compete this season will potentially get to enjoy five years of competition time, while those who were seniors last season got only 3.5 years of competition time. So there are some possibly inconsistent consequences here.

In team news, William and Mary has reinstated its previously cut women’s gymnastics team under threat of a Title IX lawsuit.

Always. Be. Litigious. William and Mary was supposed to compete in 2021 regardless, but now 2021 will no longer be the team’s final season. We think.

Meanwhile, Alaska is continuing to raise funds to try to save its team from being eliminated after 2021, and the SUNY system has announced that winter sports are canceled this year. For gymnastics purposes that means that DIII teams Cortland and Brockport will not compete in the upcoming year, joining DII West Chester which previously announced the same thing. DII University of Bridgeport is just not going to exist anymore as an institution soon and does not currently have a head coach—with Byron Knox moving on to Southern Connecticut—so expectations are low there.

As for me, I’m going to pretend like everything is normal. Which means starting the freshman previews fairly soon.

EDITING TO ADD:

So of course the second after I write this, 14 million things happen.

Item #1) Deanne Soza, who was supposed to start her college career at Utah in the upcoming season, has announced her retirement. This is, you know, not exactly the first Texas Dreams athlete to have had to medically retire in college (though it’s also worth noting that she moved to TD fairly late and the lion’s share of her elite training happened at Arete). She cites her “physical, mental, and emotional well-being.”

Item #2) Emma Malabuyo confirmed that she is deferring until next season. (She did not appear on UCLA’s initial roster.) That makes Chiles, Padurariu, Moors, and Malabuyo who will all wait it out until after the Olympic year. It’s going to be a…different UCLA roster than they expected to have next season.

Item #3) The one you didn’t see coming: Elise Ray is leaving Washington to move closer to family. That’s a real drag.

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