Watching a team grow after tragedy meaningful

Kali Price

One year ago, as a senior in high school, I never thought that I would be here writing for the Daily Kent Stater, especially covering women’s gymnastics.

Nor did I ever think that in one day my perspective on life ­­–– more importantly the team’s perspective –– would completely change.

The week between Sarah Positano’s murder and the Ball State meet Jan. 28 was a complete blur. Every day, I heard another rumor as to what exactly happened that night.

Those rumors made me sick.

I didn’t begin to feel any better about the situation until the team came out with “SP” painted on their cheeks instead of the usual Golden Flash logo. Then noticing Kent State coach Brice Biggin’s sleeve, adorned with a patch of Positano’s initials, changed my whole outlook.

Since that moment, I began to look at the team in a completely different way. I felt as if I were a part of the tight-knit family that had become so much closer during those seven days in January.

I know that everyone loves a winning team, but it’s hard for anyone not to love the 2005 gymnastics team. From the first meet Jan. 16 to Saturday’s NCAA Central Regionals, the life of every member of Kent State gymnastics has changed.

I realized during one of my recent interviews with the team’s four seniors, Earline Feugill, Erika Linnersten, Lauren Wheatley and April Zentko, that Positano’s murder had become a positive turning point in the season.

“It was a season where we had to grow up real quick,” Biggin said. “We had to fight a lot of battles.”

The season had started out negative enough as it was; the only seniors that competed in the season opener were Linnersten and Zentko. Zentko later suffered an ankle injury and didn’t compete again until late February.

So not only was the team forced to overcome losing some of their top competitors, the team had to overcome the murder of Positano.

They did just that.

It’s amazing how much a game can bring a group so close to each other. It’s obvious that the inspiration of Positano helped the confidence of the team in every single meet since Jan. 21.

The team deserved every single win since that night. Winning the MAC Championship and competing in NCAA Central Regionals was the perfect end to such an extraordinary season.

The Flashes deserved it. The squad deserved every single minute of glory.

Biggin said the 2005 season is one of his most memorable years of coaching Kent State gymnastics.

The season is probably one of the most memorable for anyone involved.

It doesn’t matter how the squad did in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Saturday night; it doesn’t matter how many meets the team won this season or even how many the team wins in the future.

What matters is the memory of Positano and how the team came together after January.

The impact of this season is not to be forgotten, nor is this special team that changed Kent State gymnastics forever.

Contact gymnastics reporter Kali Price at [email protected].