By Alexa Brisson
Olympic gymnast Mary Lou Retton once said, “each of us has a fire in our hearts for something. It’s our goal in life to find it and keep it lit.”
This determination is truly inspiring to gymnasts everywhere, and for some Sacred Heart University athletes, seeing the USA Olympic Gymnastics Team in person was a dream that came true.
This year, the Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions traveled to Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport on Saturday, Nov. 12. On this tour are members of the 2016 Women’s Olympic Gymnastics team, known as “The Final Five,” Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas, Laurie Hernandez, Madison Kocian and Aly Raisman.
The tour also includes the men’s, rhythmic, and trampoline Olympic gymnastics teams, as well as World acrobatic gymnastics mixed pairs and other World Champion gymnasts, such as Ashton Locklear, MyKayla Skinner, and Ragan Smith. 2008 Olympic all-around champion, Nastia Liukin, 2008 Olympic balance beam champion, Shawn Johnson, and 2012 Olympic team champion, Jordyn Wieber are also featured during the tour.
According to the Official Kellogg’s Tour of Gymnastics Champions website, “this year’s Kellogg’s Tour is a welcome home party and celebration for the USA’s success in Rio,” said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. “Our Athletes won the hearts of fans around the globe in August, and this is a chance for America to see them up close and personal. The Kellogg’s Tour has something for everyone, from the very young to the young at heart.”
The gymnastics team at Sacred Heart University had the opportunity to go to the Kellogg’s Tour and revel in the experience as gymnasts. For some girls on the team, the tour reminded them of why they fell in love with the sport and what pushed them to continue to do it in college.
“Listening to the stories during the show of the Olympians and how they got started in the sport reminded me of why I started doing gymnastics and why I still am today,” said freshman Bridget Nolan. “The determination of these athletes is extremely inspiring and even though I know I’m not going to the Olympics, it just pushes me to work harder and try to be the best I can for my team.”
Moreover, the team had the opportunity to utilize Sacred Heart’s custom box office suite at Webster Bank Arena and enjoyed bonding with each other in a different setting.
“The seats were great in the suite and the view was amazing, but most of all I loved that our team was able to go and watch this event all together,” said Nolan. “It’s nice to be able to do things together outside of the gym because it allows us to take a step back from the intensity and the physical demands of the sports and just enjoy each other’s company.”
The Sacred Heart gymnastics team not only went to the Kellogg’s Tour, but also had the opportunity to volunteer at the event sharing the love of the sport with young gymnasts.
“It was so cool to see how excited the little girls were about gymnastics and giving back to the community is always very rewarding,” said junior co-captain, Steph Cooney.
Cooney also expressed how she can see her love for gymnastics in the faces of young girls and how amazing it is that people can come together to celebrate the beauty of the sport.
“Volunteering through gymnastics just makes the experience that much better because we all love the sport so much. It has impacted our lives in so many ways and to see that impression on these young girls is truly inspiring,” said Cooney.
Alexa Brisson is a part of the gymnastics team at Sacred Heart and attended the event on Saturday.