Jan 27, 2009

Liberty Gymnasts Swing into Action

by Amanda Thomason, News Reporter

Flipping, jumping and tumbling are a few of the daily pastimes of Liberty’s new gymnastics team. The team has formed on campus under the direction of Lori Darter of the Lynchburg Academy of Gymnastics and Tumbling.

Practices are held on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. with 25 to 30 students already committed to the team. The team is working on building its skills and getting in shape this semester with the intention of moving toward fulfilling NCAA requirements. The members are planning to compete as soon as next semester, according to Darter. They are closing registration for this year’s team, but next year Darter will decide whether to hold tryouts or continue with open registration.

Junior Amanda Grimes is looking forward to learning new techniques and being challenged to grow in her abilities as a gymnast. The team has an overall positive attitude with a strong bond and ability to encourage each other, Grimes said.

Beginner, intermediate and advanced groups have been formed to accommodate all team members. Students from various backgrounds have joined the team, ranging from beginners to the more experienced, like freshman Steven Lucia, who has been doing gymnastics for 16 years and is ready to compete.

The gymnastics team will consist of students working on skills and competing in all four events including floor, uneven bars, balance beam and the vault. With a diverse group of people on the team, the students enjoy all aspects of the sport. Some students on the team have been gymnasts in previous years and are eager to get back to practice, according to Darter.

“I miss the thrill that comes with flipping on a four-inch beam or the adrenaline rush when I tumble on the floor and defy gravity,” freshman Megan Muller, gymnast of 13 years, said. “Most of all, I miss the hard work and dedication it takes to be a gymnast. Not only the physical toughness, but the mental toughness, because there are so many fears one must overcome every day in the gym.”

Students have the chance to break from classes and clear their minds while working on their techniques. It is a good place to relieve stress, stay in shape and pursue and accomplish their goals, according to Lucia.

“I love the fact that gymnastics is about learning to control your body. It takes strength, persistence, flexibility and great coaching to go a long way in gymnastics,” junior Sara Hice said.

This new club team was started after Liberty students already
practicing at the gym promoted interest. Darter expressed her desire, along with the students, to start the club team. Once the announcement was put out on the splash page, a significant amount of students responded and Liberty knew it would be able to form a team, according to Assistant Director of Club Sports Tatiana Gomez.

When Darter read about the new Ultimate LU initiative that Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. promoted, she realized this was the perfect time to promote a club team. Students were already coming to her gym for tumbling classes, and a club team seemed to be more beneficial since many students do not have the funding to pay normal gym rates.

“I am volunteering to coach this team because I love the sport and think it is good for working the body all the way through in every muscle,” Darter said. “It is challenging, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for Liberty students.”

Contact Amanda Thomason at


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