The UAA gymnastics team, which coaches and athletes have literally turned themselves upside-down to help save their program from elimination, is back in business.
The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents on Thursday approved reinstatement of the program, one of three sports cut by the board last September.
Each program was given a shot at reinstatement if it could meet specific fundraising goals, and the gymnastics team has hit its goal of $440,000 in donations and cost reductions, interim UAA chancellor Bruce Schultz told the regents at their meeting Thursday.
The team will be back in competition in 2021-22. And its fundraising efforts will continue for the next calendar year, because the team has to raise another $440,000 to gain permanent reinstatement.
The Seawolves have been toiling to raise money ever since September. One of their first fundraisers was a handstand challenge, which produced videos and photos of team members doing handstands, often in unusual locations. Right now the team is sponsoring the Flippin 5K, a virtual footrace that runs through the end of the month.
“I’m beyond proud of my student-athletes and staff who have worked incredibly hard over the last 266 days despite significant adversity, and I want to thank all of our supporters and donors, as this wouldn’t have been possible without them,” coach Marie-Sophie Boggasch said in a statement released by UAA.
“Nevertheless, we would like to express the urgency of continuing to donate to ensure our existence beyond next season.”
The team had raised $445,782 by June 1, Schultz told the regents, more than meeting their immediate goal while also beating their June 30 deadline. The program has until June 2022 to raise another $440,000.
The $880,000 represents two years of operating expenses -- the target fundraising amount set under a mandate given to each of the three programs targeted for elimination.
The alpine ski team reached its full goal of $628,000 in January. The next month, regents extended the timetable for the gymnastics and hockey teams; the hockey team has until the end of August to reach its full goal of $3 million.
As of Thursday, the hockey total was approaching $2.3 million. Among its upcoming fundraising efforts is a July 1 golf tournament.