GHS Gymnastics Enters New Era
GHS gymnastics opened the season with a win over South Windsor on Jan. 7. First-year head coach Dana Jackson has taken over a program that only features three seniors, but has plenty of talent. Photo credit – Glastonbury Sports Photography.
For the first time in over a decade, Glastonbury High School gymnastics has a new voice.
Dana Jackson is now in charge of the program, taking over as the head coach of a team that commenced the new era with a win over South Windsor at Tri-Town Gymnastics in Tolland on Jan. 7.
“We have a really good group of girls,” said Jackson, a 2011 graduate of Conard High School. “It’s been great and the kids are great. We should be really competitive this year.”
Helping Jackson settle into her new role have been team captains Olivia Aselton and Veronica Thomas.
Aselton and Thomas are two of the team’s three seniors, with Brianna Miclette being the third.
Jackson said her two captains have been amazing from day one, adding she has leaned on them and retuning assistant coach Taylor Savage heavily over the first month of the season.
“Being a new coach they have been super helpful from a leadership standpoint with getting the girls organized and with preparation,” stated Jackson.
Jackson also noted that outgoing coach Yvette Sima has also been instrumental with easing the transition, adding, “Yvette has been super helpful. I’ve definitely implemented a lot from what she taught me.”
It’s also been a transition season for Aselton and Thomas, who went from being contributors on a team last year that finished fifth overall at the Class LL state tourney to now being senior leaders on a team that features seven freshmen and five sophomores.
“I remember being in their place my freshman year. I looked up to all the captains and I felt so young, and now I am the one that is helping [the freshmen] out,” stated Aselton, “We just try and help out the new girls and bring the team closer.”
The captains have filled the leadership voids and added the coaching change was an adjustment, but are excited for the opportunity to help Jackson put her stamp on the program.
Aselton called Jackson “very encouraging” and Thomas added “our vibes are matching.”
“Our biggest goal this year is to have a good time,” stated Thomas. “Obviously we’d love to win and our skills are good so we want to show that off, but it’s just important that we all have a good time together.”
Both captains noted that they coach youth gymnastics locally, so they were familiar with the incoming gymnasts.
For Jackson, it’s was whirlwind first few weeks since taking over the program.
While in high school, Jackson was a Level 10 gymnast and trained at the same venue — Gymnastic Express Too — that the Guardians host their meets at.
After graduate high school, Jackson competed collegiately at Ursinus College in Pennsylvania and earned a degree in communications.
Over the past decade she has traveled for work, doing digital media and public relations around the east coast before taking a job with the Halifax Thunderbird, a professional lacrosse team in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Jackson eventually moved back to the area with her husband, Kyle Jackson, and their two young children, Taytum and Teagan, where she got the opportunity to become the head coach at GHS.
Jackson, whose background was mainly in club gymnastics, had to learn the ropes of high school gymnastics.
She said it took time to understand the different nuances of high school rules and scoring, yet she feels she is starting to get a hang of it.
“Now that I have been here I am enjoying it so much. I like the team aspect,” stated Jackson, who joked being around the sport makes her want to compete again. “My two-year-old loves coming to the gym and just being in the gym again is so awesome. I get to be involved in the sport at a different level.”
In the win over South Windsor, the Guardians defeated the Bobcats 131.75 - 80.25.
Returning all-conference junior Macey Burns had a meet-best 8.85 on the bars and team-highs of 8.5 on the beam and 8.4 on the vault.
Sophomore Anna Edwards posted a team-high 8.7 on the floor exercise, while Madeline O’Connell registered an 8.55 on the bars.
Aselton, who posted an 8.4 on the beam, said the goal this year is for “everyone to have fun.”
“We are a team and are all always rooting each other on,” added Thomas, who scored 8.25 on the bars and 8.0 on the floor exercise.
The Guardians are slated to have their first home meet this Friday (today), Jan. 13 at Glastonbury Express Too at 7 p.m.
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin