Women’s gymnastics tumbles into new season

The Rhode Island College women’s gymnastics team is gearing up for a new season with its third different head coach in four years. Last season left a lot of weary looks on the gymnasts’ faces as they had a 2-10 record. There is reason for renewed optimism, however, as newly appointed head coach Tristan Poirier has taken charge of the Anchorwomen.

Tristan Poirier
“I look forward to growing the program, as well as, growing as a coach,” Poirier said when he was hired in October. “I hope to raise the level of competition to the high standards set forth here at Rhode Island College.”

Poirier has nine years of coaching experience, including six years of gymnastics and three years of martial arts instruction. “I am definitely going to try to go back to the fundamentals of gymnastics and really clean up the basics.” Poirier said on his plans for the year.

Poirier has brought in former URI gymnast Jackie Ventre to serve as his assistant. “I feel the team is working well will the new coaches,” sophomore Jessica Greenwald said. “Both of them are working well to cope with us gymnasts by bringing their past gymnastics experiences into the gym.”

With only two seniors on the team, with the rest being sophomores, Poirier will have to look at the entire team to stand up and lead, not just a few select gymnasts. “The team is small, so everyone is going to have to do their part. We are really going to have to work as a team this year.”

Jessica Greenwald
Poirier will be tasked with building the program from the ground up. RIC is without the services of some of the program’s top competitors over the last couple of seasons. Casey Lesieur, the team’s MVP and lone qualifier to the National Championships, transferred to Syracuse. All-arounder Julie Pitkin also did not return to Providence.

But although RIC struggled with an almost entirely freshmen lineup last year, the team gained valuable experience, which should prepare them better for competitions this season.

Sophomore Courtney Winsor was second on the team on bars, the most difficult event for most gymnasts, while classmate Kate Bachelder was one of the team’s better beam and floor competitors.

Senior Liz Glunt is the most experienced of the nine returnees, having been in the starting lineup since her freshman year. Sophomore Alana Henderson is coming back from a neck injury that knocked her out of the lineup just when her floor routines were progressing.

Liz Glunt
Greenwald, like the rest of her squad, is eager to start the season. “Being on the team previously, I feel I have an advantage of what is expected this year,” she said.

Greenwald, who has been training hard and working on getting her routines ready, said that her goals for the season are “to just go out there, compete to the best of my abilities and have fun doing it.”

Fans will have to be patient with the rebuilding process. With only seven Div. III women’s gymnastics programs in the Northeast, and less than 20 in the entire nation, RIC is forced to battle Div. I and II teams with scholarship rosters at most competitions.

With a young team and a new head coach, the Anchorwomen appeared headed in the right direction to get back to their winning ways.

“For goals, we want to win every meet.” Poirier said.

Watch the Anchorwomen in their first meet of the season as they host National Collegiate Gymnastics Association and Eastern College Athletic Conference rival Springfield on Jan. 10, 2010, at 1 p.m. in The Murray Center.