NAGA and Penobscot Bay YMCA to Host First High School Gymnastics State Championships

Photo by: NAGA Marta Denny, a Sophomore at Camden Hills Regional High School, competing on balance beam at MIT in 2014

On March 5th North Atlantic Gymnastics and the Penobscot Bay YMCA will play host to the first High School Gymnastics State Championships in the State of Maine. NAGA and the YMCA are very excited to provide a fun and competitive environment for Maine gymnasts to represent their school and compete for individual and team titles.

NAGA owners, Jonas and Stacey Contakos, are the masterminds behind the meet, seeing a need for many of these athletes to get some recognition. High school gymnastics was present in Maine until the last 10 years or so when the few remaining programs were discontinued due to lack of coaching staff, practice/competitive space, and funding from schools. Unfortunately this leaves hundreds of athletes, men and women, without the means to represent their school district at the state level or Maine at a national level. "Many of these athletes will practice 15-20 hours per week, year round and yet they are the most under recognized student athletes in the state. These girls and boys are the poster children for student athletes - honor role, work ethic and yet most of their peers don't even know what they do everyday after school." Stacey said.

The big picture goal is for this meet to serve as a stepping stone for re-introducing gymnastics as a recognized varsity sport in the state. "The sport will have to evolve if it wants to survive in Maine" says Stacey. Although the state has seen a 30% increase in participation at the Junior Olympic level, there is no opportunity for these athletes to earn varsity letters or hold recognized leadership positions, like Captain. "The days of practicing and competing on site at the high school are over. Luckily we have the support of all the gymnastics clubs to try and move things off site and ease the burden of housing such a space consuming sport in the school itself (the floor alone is 40' by 40')".

NAGA is hoping that the meet will produce some visibility for gymnastics as a high school sport as they begin the process of establishing formal programs in schools within a close proximity to private clubs. Varsity teams will be moved off-site to practice and compete in safe, well-equipped facilities similar to hockey and swimming.

"We are very excited to get the ball rolling on this project!" says Stacey. "We know it will be a long haul to get varsity gymnastics back up and running. This meet will be the first step in getting people with a common goal together and recognize the hard work these athletes have put in." Right now there are over 50 girls registered from Bethel to Camden Hills.

The competition will be open to the public and all are encouraged to attend and support these athletes! More information on the meet can be found at:

http://nagagym.com/maine-high-school-gymnastics/

 

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