GlenOak soars at Golden Eagle Invitational


Hannah Frederick

Brooklyn Maurer prepares to complete a backflip while competing on beam

Thundering cheers echo through the North Canton YMCA gymnasium as a figure in a green and gold uniform takes the floor. It is Jan. 16, and over 100 gymnasts from all over Stark County are gathered to compete in the Golden Eagle Invitational, hosted by GlenOak High School’s gymnastics team.

As teams prepared for competition and gymnasts grouped together, they shouted words of encouragement across the mats to gymnasts from other schools as well as their own. The GOHS program focuses on developing bonds of strength, encouragement, and dedication between athletes.

“Being part of this team has grown their friendships and given them an opportunity to grow their skills in a different environment,” head coach Alyssa West said. “Many of the gymnasts on the team also compete for the YMCA all year and spend a lot of time with each other outside of GlenOak gymnastics.”

While many of the athletes are involved in the sport year-round, school gymnastics offers the opportunity to explore the sport or experience a new team in a positive environment.

“High school is a lot different than club gymnastics because there are a lot of girls that you don’t do club with and you get to learn about a lot of them,” freshman gymnast Brooklyn Maurer said. 

Athletes representing several schools unite to support their high school and club teammates throughout the season, watching their events and providing a solid foundation of support as others compete. 

“My favorite memory from this season was at the Golden Eagle Invitational on floor,” Maurer said. “It was my first high school meet and everyone was cheering me on and then I got a really good score.”

Gymnastics is a sport that pushes athletes physically and mentally. There are several varied events that gymnasts compete in, four of which were featured at the Invitational. From floor routines to uneven bars, beam and vault, a gymnast completes feats of strength, flexibility, and balance for scores.

Floor routines are set to music and include feats of tumbling, flips, and dance elements. Uneven bars, performed in mid-air on a set of two metal rungs, requires incredible upper-body and core strength in order to flip and fly from one part of the setup to the other. Beam, which is based on balance and coordination on a narrow board, also has a dance element in addition to cartwheels and flips. To compete in the vault event, athletes must run and utilize momentum to launch over a small platform with the same name as the event itself. All of these have unique challenges. The gymnastics team teaches students how to rise and meet them.

“You have to be willing to fail a lot before you become successful,” West said. 

Throughout the meet, athletes support one another through successes and failures. In the wake of several years of low involvement due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team has worked to rebuild with values of positivity, confidence and dedication.

“We do not have any seniors on the team this year, but there are several anchor juniors that really work hard to push the team,” Assistant Coach Aubrey Durkey said.

While gymnasts compete individually, the program at GlenOak works to foster physical and social improvement in a collective environment.

I have grown as an athlete through gymnastics to be a hard worker, dedicated and encouraging teammate. But also since I have done gymnastics since I was three, I believe that as a person it has taught me to keep pushing forward through hard times,” Maurer said. 

The GlenOak Gymnastics Program has soared this year through the Golden Eagle Invitational and beyond. As they fly into the off-season, their focus remains on empowerment, athletic excellence, and hard work.