UAA's new head gymnastics coach has some big shoes to fill. When Tanya Ho took over this fall, as only the second head coach in 34 years, she replaced Paul Stoklos, who created the program in 1984 and retired in 2017 as the longest-serving coach in UAA history.
"He left a legacy of hard-working gymnasts who did well in the classroom and in the community and who had clean gymnastics," said Ho. "I'm trying to keep that up."
"The team is definitely facing a lot of adversity this year," said junior Jaylin Mancari, "with a lot of little injuries and a brand new coach. But because of this adversity a lot of girls are stepping up and doing better work."
At practice Wednesday, two athletes injured themselves, putting themselves out of competition two days before the team's first meet of the season Friday. "Some of the leaders have injuries right now," said Ho. "It's causing the others to step up, and it's great to see that because instead of them fearing the injuries, they're seeing that, OK maybe I need to work on my bar routine because I may need to compete some day."
The team puts forward six athletes in each category of competition, and with the number of gymnasts out due to injury, it means some will be competing in events that they may not have practiced very much. Junior Jaylin Mancari will likely compete in vault this weekend, an event she hasn't competed in since high school.
"They're stepping up to the challenges," said Ho.