Hornets youth movement makes progress
Hinsdale South's Lauren Haney on the balance beam at an IHSA regional at Hinsdale Central Jan. 31, 2013 in Hinsdale. | Rob Hart~Sun-Times Media
Updated: April 8, 2013 2:04AM
HINSDALE — Hinsdale South’s gymnastics team is happy it’s in the middle of a youth movement.
The Hornets are without a senior on the roster and have only two juniors on the squad. That doesn’t mean they aren’t having success, though, and a lot of that has to do with young gymnasts like Lauren Haney.
“We don’t really know what it’s like to have seniors because we haven’t really had seniors for the past few years,” Haney said. “But we all work pretty well together so I don’t think it really matters.”
Haney had a productive sophomore season, qualifying in all-around for Wednesday’s scheduled Hinsdale Central Sectional. But she’s had some difficulty progressing at the pace she wants.
“I’ve been struggling a lot the past year but I’m getting better,” Haney said. “Some skills I just can’t get and it discourages me. But if I (quit), I’d be miserable.”
“She came out strong last year as a freshman,” said Hornets head coach Jennifer Fichter. “She’s had some struggles this year but it’s coming together. She hit all four events (at regionals) and I saw her smile a few times, which always makes me happy.”
Haney was sixth in all-around at the Hinsdale Central Regional on Jan. 31 and was one of 12 gymnasts who earned an at-large bid for sectional. Haney also qualified on beam and uneven parallel bars. Hinsdale South was second in the team competition, behind Hinsdale Central.
“I think it went pretty well for me because I hit all four events,” Haney said. “I did the best I could.”
Haney, who started gymnastics at the park district level when she was 6 years old, has seen a lot of improvement in two events this season, uneven bars and balance beam.
“This year I have a double on bars and last year I didn’t think I’d be able to do that,” she said. “On beam, I didn’t do it (at regionals) but I have a flip-flop, flip-flop and last year I was struggling to even do a flip-flop.”
One of the people Haney has been able to rely on for support has been freshman Maddie Nowak, the squad’s top all-arounder.
They both train in the offseason at Action Gymnastics and have come to understand each other this season.
“I think the biggest thing we learned is to stay positive with each other,” Haney said. “We’re both very hard on ourselves so when we see each other getting down we realize it kind of brings the team down.”
“We always work out together and we’re really good friends,” Nowak said. “She’s definitely a very solid gymnast and she always does her very best for the team. I’m just really grateful to have her on the team.”
And while Haney and her young teammates might have some growing pains, Fichter knows there’s a big upside.
“Even though they’re just a freshman and a sophomore they really do lead the team, especially by example because of their work ethic,” Fichter said. “I love that I have several more years with them.”