While most teenagers were enjoying their holiday vacation on the ski slopes or relaxing in the solitude of their own homes, the gymnastics team at South High was spending their time in a very different way. Four days out of the 13-day vacation, the girls were busy practicing and improving their routines on each of the four events. Constant practice is essential in gymnastics, for the maintaining strength and improving even the smallest mistake in a routine. "Dedication," according to three-year coach Debbie Emmerich, "is one of the key aspects of this year's soon-to-be triumphant team."
Teamwork is also a large part of the team this year. Although each individual gymnast is working to reach individual counties, everyone needs to work together to raise the score of the team. The team is led by senior Jen Aloi and elected junior captains Patti Hong and Tracy Gertler. Other team members include juniors Beth Wecksell and Christine Fahey, sophomores Sarah Cardell, Michelle Serpas, Ali Weinberg, Julissa Valendas and Carolyn Piliero, and freshmen Rebecca Greenwald, Tracy Noh, Shari Leventhal, Carla Bazan, Alexis Rosenbach and Stephanie Langsner.
Two years in a row the team has completed an almost perfect season with only one loss on record. As a result of consecutive victories in the past two years at the top of Conference II, the gymnastics team is now competing in the top division, Conference I. The gymnastics in this division is much more experienced, perfected, and even competitive. Of course, the team does not hope to once again be conference champions. However, the gymnasts and their coaches have their hearts set on a new goal: team championships. In order to qualify for team championships, South has to end their season as one of the top 10 teams in the county. Last year, South narrowly missed this margin by coming in as number 13. Everyone has been working hard to make this aspiration a reality, and the first three meets can attest to the fact that this hard work has been rewarding.
On Dec. 17, Great Neck South began their season against Long Beach High School. The Rebels foster a friendly rivalry with Long Beach; two years in a row, the two teams have faced each other for the title of Conference II champions. South proved triumphant, and won the meet by almost five points. The team also began the season with a record-breaking score of 143.8. The highest score ever achieved in the school had been achieved last year, by a team which included several current team members and graduated captain Karen Siegel.
The following two meets, after Long Beach, forced the Rebels to face last year's second and third place teams: Bethpage and Southside. The Rebels came surprisingly close to Southside, losing by a slight margin of three points. This score, a 149.3 for the Rebels, became the new school record. The goal for this season, as set by Coach Emmerich, is to extend the "record-breaking season" to a new high score that will exceed 150.
On the sixth and the eighth of January, the Rebels must prove themselves against opponents of equal ability: Oceanside and Baldwin. These two meets could well determine the success of the Rebels in reaching team championships. And, this is the obvious reason for the vacation practices. Although many of the high school teams practice during vacation, the Rebels decided to focus on details of many of the gymnasts' routines. An amount as minute as a tenth from one routine of each gymnast could determine the outcome of the two upcoming meets.
The meet against Baldwin, scheduled to take place tomorrow in the West gym at South High School, begins at 4:30 p.m. Cheering and support by spectators always improved the attitude and self-esteem of the team as they battle a worthy opponent. The team would appreciate the presence of those who support these hard-working girls tomorrow. Good luck to the team, in their future meets and hopefully successful endeavors to reach team championships.