Gymnasts, new coach, excited to start
While the Blue Earth Area Buccaneer gymnastics team might be down in numbers, they are definitely not down in enthusiasm.
“We only have 11 girls out for gymnastics this year,” says new head coach Melissa Storbeck. “But, they are a really great group of girls.”
Three Bucs with a lot of varsity experience are returning to lead this year’s team. They are seniors Chante Anderson and Marissia Hagedorn and junior Cassie Thompson.
“Those three will be competing in all-around for us,” Coach Storbeck says. “All three will compete in every event and each of them has a lot of ability in each rotation.”
Junior Kayla Schaper and sophomore Haley Resutek are also expected to step up and compete well for the team, according to the coach.
The Bucs took a heavy hit from graduation last year, losing the likes of Blaire Zierke, Julia Meyer, Lauren Thompson, Sam Hogstead and LaNay Walker. However, the team’s new coach thinks there is a lot of talent coming up with some younger competitors.
Those other team members this year include Erin Wiltse, Gracie Leland, Brianna Ziegler, Erin Olson, Miranda Johnson and Rowan Hacken.
The one area where low team numbers will affect the Buccaneers this year will be in the junior varsity competition.
“We need five solid members for the varsity and we have that,” the coach says. “But, we need five for junior varsity as well.”
While the team has enough bodies, not all of the team members are able to compete in every area of gymnastics.
“Plus, we are allowed to have one extra girl compete on the junior varsity who’s score does not count,” Storbeck says. “Obviously we will not fill that slot this year.”
Still, the new coach is enthusiastic when it comes to looking forward to the season.
“I expect good things,” she says. “I’m pretty impressed so far – after one week of practice.”
And, Storbeck knows what to look for. She has been involved with gymnastics since she was in seventh grade.
“I competed for Blue Earth Area,” says the 1998 BEA grad. “Rob Norman was my gymnastics coach for a while.”
Storbeck was an alternate on the BEA gymnastics team – coached by Norman – that went to the State Meet in the 1994-95 season.
“Rob was an excellent coach,” she says. “I was just an average gymnast.”In the 2004-05 season, Storbeck was an assistant coach for head gymnastics coach Sandy Oswald.
“I learned a lot from her,” Storbeck says. “It gave me the coaching experience.”
It was her former coach, Rob Norman, who called Storbeck a year ago, asking her to consider taking the head job. It wasn’t until a week before the first practice was to start that she said yes.
Storbeck says she wanted to coach but had to clear her schedule. She works at United Hospital District in Blue Earth and has a family.
Plus, she needed an assistant coach. She found one she knows pretty well.
“My husband Doug agreed to help me out and be my assistant coach,” she says. Doug Storbeck is a math teacher at BEA and an assistant football coach.
“Doug also was an assistant gymnastics coach in the past,” Storbeck says. “It is nice to have someone strong enough to help with the lifts – I can’t do it.”
Storbeck says she feels lucky that the season starts out a little slow.
“We only have three meets in December, all at home,” she says. “Then we get real busy in January.”
The Bucs first contest is a home meet in Winnebago against Worthington on Dec. 6. Then they will host the Buc Invite on Dec. 10.
“The dominant squad in this area is definitely MCA” (Martin County Area), says coach Storbeck. “They are always tough. It will be hard for us to even compete with them.”
Waseca and New Ulm are also perennial gymnastic powerhouses, the new Buc mentor says. Plus, St. Peter is getting more competitive as well.
But, despite the stiff competition in the conference and the Section, Storbeck and her Buccaneer gymnastics team members are all excited for the year to start and are enthusiastic to hit the mats, vault, bars and beams.
“Our first week of practice has gone well,” she says. “I think the transition (to a new coach) has gone pretty smoothly. I have coached them, but I have also learned a lot from them. We are looking forward to the season to begin.”