Kent State gymnasts get by with a little help from Flo Rida


Sophomore Ali Marrero performs her balance beam routine on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016.

Elise Kogelnik

Kent State gymnastic team’s junior Jordin Hardison quickly went from stretching to dancing when Flo Rida’s “My House” started blaring through the speakers in the M.A.C. Center.

The rest of the gymnasts, who were warming up for practice alongside Hardison, joined in until nearly everyone was singing and dancing along to the hit song. 

Sophomore Brooke Timko said the team starts every practice the same way, but the music selection always changes.

“Some days it’s the Jonas Brothers,” Timko said. “Some days it’s Justin Bieber and sometimes, it’s Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch — it just depends.”

Senior Kayla Kosmerl said that while the team uses the music for fun, they use it to train, too. The coaches blast the radio, cheer or make the gym completely silent while the gymnasts perform their routines. Kosmerl said that these exercises, called pressure sets, prepare the team to compete in any situation. 

However, Coach Brice Biggin said when the gymnasts are swinging through the air on the uneven bars or dismounting from the balance beam, their focus is on the sport, not the song.

“(Gymnastics is) an intense sport where you have to be aware of what you’re doing because the possibility of some type of an injury if you’re not focused is pretty high,” Biggin said. “(The gymnasts) are doing things normal people don’t. Most people don’t flip twice and expect to land on their feet.” 

Though there are times when practice needs to be taken seriously, Biggin said, there is also room for laughter. 

“We’re in the middle of the season,” Biggin said. “(The gymnasts have) been going on and off since September, so it’s a long year and they need a little bit of that relief and that comedy sometimes. (Sophomore Rachel Stypinski) will start most of the comedy.”

Stypinksi recognizes that it’s important for her to find a balance between having fun and being serious.

“I’ve been (funny) since I was younger,” Stypinksi said. “Growing up as a gymnast, I was never one to take something super seriously, but I always got the balance of when I could have a good time and when I had to be serious. Usually, when I finish my turn, I’ll laugh and make someone else laugh. But I know when it’s my turn I need to calm down, focus and get ready for my routine.”

The gymnasts aren’t the only ones having fun at practice – the coaches enjoy themselves, too.

Timko said Biggin will sometimes do the team’s routines for the floor exercise, even junior Skyelee Lamano’s, which includes animated facial expressions and a dab.

Timko said there are a number of personalities on the team. Some people laugh at Hardison’s dance moves, while others find Stypinski’s jokes funny. The Flashes rely on their teammates to keep the mood up through the hard work that comes with the sport.

“It’s amazing (to compete with a big group of girls),” Timko said. “We all want the same thing, and we’ve all grown up doing (gymnastics). It’s nice to have people who are going through the same stuff as you.”

Elise Kogelnik is a sports reporter for The Kent Stater, contact her at [email protected].