Kent State gymnastics back on track after Flip for the Cure

Erica Mucci

The Kent State gymnastics team entertained a crowd of more than 2,000 in the fifth annual “Flip for the Cure” meet Sunday afternoon.

The pink-clad crowd packed the M.A.C. Center in support of the Flashes and in support of the fight against breast cancer. For months the team and athletic department have been working to coordinate the event that benefits the J.D. Breast Cancer Foundation.

“Before the meet, our profit was at about $2,000,” Angie Seabeck, director of student-athlete development, said. “I think we’ll end up right around $7,000.”

Seabeck, who worked closely with the team to host the event, said $7,000 was this year’s goal.

“It keeps getting bigger and bigger every year, and we earn a little more every year,” Seabeck said.

Seabeck and others worked to drown the M.A.C. Center in pink to create what she called “a girl’s dream.” From steamers in the doorways to the tape that lined the spring floor used in the meet, everything was pink. Even the leotards worn by each team were pink.

Sharon Sabin, Kent State assistant coach, said the team makes sure the opponent knows what the meet is all about before they make the trip.

“We tell them in our pre-meet info that it will be a pink meet, and they can go to any extremes they want,” Sabin said. “The girls, of course, like wearing pink because we normally don’t get to.”

During the breaks between rotations, they announce what Seabeck calls “survivor recognitions.” This is where they bring to the floor people who are in attendance who have been affected by breast cancer.

“We make an announcement and people just start coming out of the stands,” Seabeck said. “I think they hear about the event and naturally come to support.”

Some survivors even chose to share their stories with the crowd.

The big money makers for the event are the T-shirt sales and raffle baskets. The front lobby of the M.A.C. Center was lined with baskets the team and their families put together. T-shirts with the phrase “I’m here for the A, B, C & DD’s” sold for $10 a piece.

“We try to put something on there that’s catchy and college students want to buy,” Seabeck said. “The girls help put the slogan together. They do everything until the day-of when they actually have to get out there and compete.”

They certainly did compete. The team’s combined efforts resulted in the best statistical meet of the year. The team posted season bests on all four events to roll over Northern Illinois 195.525-193.625. Coach Brice Biggin said this is the team he has been waiting to see.

“This is the team we’ve been looking for most of the season,” Biggin said. “We’re very happy. But we still made some mistakes and that’s good and bad. The good thing is, we know we can get better, but the bad thing is they’re still mistakes.”

Biggin said those mistakes that cost them few tenths of a point may not be a big deal in a meet like Sunday’s, but could be the difference between winning and losing a close meet. He said the important lesson is that the team is capable of bouncing back from falls and mistakes if the girls are able to step up and hit routines like they did Sunday.

Sophomore Marie Case, who took the all-around title for the day, said it was the sixth person in each event who really made the difference.

“We had a miss for every fifth person except for on floor,” Case said. “But the sixth person stepped up on each event, so we didn’t have to count a fall.”

The Flashes were able to maintain the momentum and the lead throughout the meet. In addition to winning the beam with a 9.800, Case was part of a three-way Flashes tie between freshman Amiah Mims and senior Rachel Goldenberg for first in the floor exercise.

Junior Lindsay Runyan said although she is proud of the way girls on the team stepped up, the team needs to get to the point where no stepping up is needed.

“Next week we have to go to North Carolina State,” Runyan said. “They’re strong competitors. We saw a lot of their girls at nationals, so it’s great to have a good meet to come off of.”

Runyan, who co-chaired the event, said she was happy with what the meet was able to achieve.

“It fires up the girls and it’s just a great experience,” Biggin said. “It really makes you feel good about what you’re doing and that you’re doing things for the right reasons.”

Contact Erica Mucci at [email protected].