Gymnastics team paints the rock in support of Warren


Photo courtesy of Twitter (@KentStGym)

Dan Armelli

When Kent State President Beverly Warren announced she had breast cancer on April 7, the university’s gymnastics team knew its job.

“We were all just talking in the gym and (later) in the locker room after we heard about this,” said Samantha Gordon, a junior gymnast. “It was just a mutual decision like, ‘We need to do something.’ “

Painting the rock located on the front of campus in preparation for the MAC Championships has been a tradition for the team.

This year, however, the team focused painted the rock pink and white to symbolize breast cancer, in honor of Warren.

“On campus (the rock) is sort of a focal point,” said Craig Ballard, assistant coach of the gymnastics team. “We thought, ‘What better place to show our support for Dr. Warren than the rock?’ Everybody drives by it. Everybody sees it.”

Painting the rock has been able to continue the gymnastics team in its support on social media.

The team’s picture with the rock, which currently sports “#BevStrong” and pink ribbon for breast cancer, is the team’s avatar on its Twitter page.

When Ballard heard the announcement almost two weeks ago, he quickly responded. Ballard sent out the first tweet with #BevStrong for the gymnastics team’s Twitter.

“Oh gosh, probably 10 minutes,” Ballard said. “Really it just took time to read (the tweet) and process it for a minute. Breast cancer and breast cancer awareness is really important to our program, so it’s always kind of in your mind somewhere.”

Each year the gymnastics team holds a “Flip for the Cure” meet in efforts to raise awareness for breast cancer, wearing special leotards covered in pink.

“I know we felt more motivated to make a bigger deal within our team because we do (Flip for the Cure), and we support curing breast cancer overall,” Gordon said. “We figured, ‘Who better to help than the president?’”

Gordon said she’s been impressed with all the support she and her teammates have seen outside of the gymnastics team as well.

“I think (the support throughout campus) has been a great thing,” she said. “You can tell everyone really cares about how she’s doing and what she’s done for the school. It’s been very inspiring to see how much everyone cares about her.”

Ballard is also proud of the way Kent Campus has shown its care for Warren.

“To see the outpouring of support for …Warren has been awesome,” he said. “Hopefully, her fight and her successfulness against this disease (will bring) more awareness to the issue. By doing that—if our support helps her in some way—then we’re happy to do it, and we’re glad to see it brought to the forefront again.”

Dan Armelli is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].