From state champion to MAC Specialist: Rachel Stypinski


Rachel Stypinski performs her routine on the balance beam during the first home meet of the season against Western Michigan on Friday, Jan. 23. Stypinski finished her routine with a final score of 9.875 to win this event as well as the floor routine. The Flashes defeated the Broncos with an overall final score of 194.900-193.325.

Megan McEldowney

Before Rachel Stypinski was a state champion at Boyertown Area Senior High, and before she was Mid-American Conference Specialist of the Week two weeks in a row, she was tumbling around her house and falling in love with gymnastics. 

“My love of gymnastics started probably before I was put in gymnastics,” Stypinski said. “When I was little, I would just run and flip around the house, and to get my craziness out, my parents put me in the sport. I’ve been doing gymnastics for 15 years, since I was 3 years old. I have four more years to go.”

Stypinski grew up in Boyertown, Pennsylvania, but when it came time for the transition from Boyertown to Kent State, Stypinski was more than ready for the challenge.

“Being away from home with a demanding schedule actually isn’t that bad,” Stypinski said. “I have my team here, and they’re like family to me. The first week of school I felt like they were my sisters. This is my second home, and I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”

Stypinski won her second straight Specialist of the Week honors after a dominating performance in Kent State’s victory over Pittsburgh on Jan. 30 in the Beauty and the Beast event. She set career-highs on the balance beam and floor exercise, scoring a 9.900 and taking first place in both events.

“The journey to get to this point was tough because I didn’t have a really good start,” Stypinski said. “I was having some troubles on beam and floor which are the two events I compete (in), but as soon as I got my confidence up, I knew I could do it. Also, seeing I got the MAC Specialist of the Week, and once I was explained what it was, it was very exciting.”

Assistant coach Craig Ballard said it is her work ethic and drive to win that really makes her a quality competitor, not just natural ability, which he said she also had.

“She likes to compete; she is very competitive,” Ballard said. “And you tie that in with her high level of skill, her natural talent she has and it made for a nice set-up.”

Ballard also said the competitive drive transitions into the classroom as well.

“Academically, she’s a good student, and we like that too,” Ballard said. “Our recruiting philosophy is finding kids who still have a motor. Typically, if they have a motor in gymnastics, then they have a motor in academics. They don’t just flip a switch; they’re on all the time. That is Rachel, she has that motor.”

Sophomore gymnast and teammate Skyelee Lamano expressed how much she enjoys having Stypinski on the team.

“She’s a very good teammate,” Lamano said. “She definitely cheers for all the other girls, (and) she’s there for girls if they need her. She is exciting and brings enthusiasm to the gym. It’s a great time being with her.”

Contact Megan McEldowney at [email protected].