Lackritz and Alexander Aiming to Build Gymnastics Team


Photo courtesy of Maddie Alexander

The BHS gymnastics team has doubled in size this year.

Last year’s team consisted of sophomore Taryn Lackritz; this year sophomore Maddie Alexander is joining her.

Both plan to compete in all four women’s events: vault, bars, beam and floor.

Even though the OHSAA sanctions gymnastics as a varsity sport, Beachwood’s gymnastics team has not achieved varsity sport status. But the athletic department is taking the steps needed to turn gymnastics from a club sport to a varsity sport.

One of the biggest differences between a club and a varsity sport is that the athletic department and the booster club will help pay to run a sports program, but the support for a club team is limited.

“We don’t pay for the coach; we don’t pay for the facilities; we don’t pay for their uniforms,” Athletic Director Ryan Peters said. “We represent them; we want them to go compete, go win and go have fun.

Peters explained the process in which a club sport can eventually become a varsity sport.

“The program has to have at least five years to become a varsity sport, as well as a longevity where they’re building for the future,” he said. “I’d like to see the program grow. I think there’s a group of kids in Beachwood that would be successful at gymnastics.”

Lackritz has been a proponent of bringing gymnastics to the status of a varsity sport. She restarted the club last year.

Beachwood briefly had a gymnastics club in the 2009-2010 school year, but the club went dormant after that.

According to Alexander, many local schools have gymnastics teams including Solon, Orange, Kenston and West Geauga.

“My parents and I started the process about three years ago because we knew it would take a long time,” Lackritz said. “There was a lot of paperwork and waiting for it to be approved.

Even though the process to start the team was tedious, Lackritz is excited by the prospect of a strong gymnastics program at Beachwood.

“I wanted to start this team because gymnastics is my favorite sport,” she said. “I am at the gym about 16 hours a week and I wanted to be able to compete for the school to show my hard work.”

“I was the only member of the team last year, and this year I am happy to have another member who joined,” Lackritz said.

Alexander reflected on why she switched from club gymnastics to joining the Beachwood team.

“Last year, I was the only person competing for my club, and it was pretty boring,” she said. “I want to have a team during the season because if you’re competing by yourself, it takes the fun away from the competition.”

You don’t have to be good to join; you just have to work hard and put the time and effort into it.

— Sophomore Taryn Lackritz

According to Alexander, Beachwood coach Diane Rienzi is paid for her private coaching, but is currently volunteering her time to coach the Beachwood team.

The team practices at Rienzi Gymnastics Academy.

Building for the future begins with youth programming. Team members hope to promote the program to younger students in Beachwood beginning at a youth level, making their way up to a varsity level.

Both Alexander and Lackritz have put in a lot of work and effort into trying to make this a lasting program.

“Since I joined Taryn on the team, we’ve gotten team leotards and jackets, set up fundraisers and set up our meet schedule for the season,” Alexander said.

The season officially begins on Jan. 14, but the schedule has not yet been made.

The biggest factor that will help build up a good gymnastics program are student athletes to go out and compete for the team.

Alexander and Lackritz urge students to join.

“You don’t have to be amazing at gymnastics, but if you love the sport, then join,” Alexander said. “It’s not about being the best, but about having fun with your team.”

“You don’t have to be good to join; you just have to work hard and put the time and effort into it,” Lackritz said.