Rock tumble and roll with the Tigerfish Gymnastics team


Students may be surprised to learn the word ‘gymnastics’ is derived from the Greek word ‘gymnos’ which means ‘naked’. However, this surprise hardly amounts to the discovery that Gloucester High School students have a gymnastics team, the TigerFish

“Yes, we do have a gymnastics team,” said senior captain Michael Abell. “We are a colab between Rockport, Gloucester, Manchester and Ipswich. We practice two to three times a week at Iron Rail gym in Wenham and we have competitions once a week.”

The team improved drastically last year under the coaching of Ms. Helen Bess, and has continued to keep up the hard work since.

Lexi Zubricki, who joined the team as a freshman last year, appreciates that gymnastics is as much about individual goals as well as team goals.

“When you compete it is just your score – you see your individual score so you can improve throughout the season.”

Zubricki’s favorite events are vault and bars.  “Vault is kind of quick, and less of a routine than the floor, or beam,” said Zubricki. “Bars is challenging because it takes a lot of strength. I’m still learning, but I like to do it.”

Zubricki encourages all students to try gymnastics, even those with no experience.

There are really good people who practice all the time, and people who had never done anything. Her advice? “Be willing to try anything,” said Zubricki. “If the coach thinks you are safe doing it, you should try it. Everybody gets at least one chance to compete.”

“Helen Bess is the coach at Iron Rail,” said junior captain Sofia Gallo. “I’ve known her for eleven years. She helps us a lot, especially with the girls who just started gymnastics. Last year we improved a lot and this year we seem to be even better. We got our highest score a couple weeks ago- a 126.”

A gymnastics meet is scored a bit differently than other sports. Each routine starts with an initial 10.0. The team member performing is then judged based on the execution and has points deducted based off of mistakes made. These deductions can range from tenths to hundredths of a point. The individual scores are then averaged together. A perfect score for college level teams is considered a 200.

“There’s starting value and if you don’t meet the requirements they deduct points based on technique and skill,” said sophomore Aurora Billante. “We are doing well, our team got better from last year. We have more people who have done gymnastics before.”

Out of the fourteen athletes on the team, Abell doubles as the only senior and the only male.

“With gymnastics, an unlucky hit could land you in the hospital,” said Abell. “My back is really bad. I have forty percent cartilage in one shoulder and sixty in another. My injury list surpasses anyone else in this school. Other sports-you take a week off and you’re a bit rusty. In gymnastics if you take a week off, it takes a month to get back.”

Despite the dangers of such a demanding sport, team members say they continue to be devoted to gymnastics.

“It’s the only sport I’ve ever done,” said Gallo. “I did soccer and dance, but I liked gymnastics a lot more so I quit everything else.”

“It’s more like a family, everyone likes each other,” said Billante. “It’s not like cliques or anything.”

“I do it because it’s my version of release,” said Abell. “Everyone needs an escape from their mind. I find it’s a lot of trusting. You have to trust your coaches and yourself. I’m surrounded by girls in tight fitted clothing. I am in heaven.”