Abrupt end to promising season

SPU gymnastics receives national, conference awards, but Covid-19 leaves many questions unanswered

Kyle Morrison, Staff Reporter

a gymnast stands and poses on a balance beam
Marissa Lordahl
Darian Burns, a senior gymnast with multiple nation titles, competed for her final time at home on Friday.

Seattle Pacific University gymnastics seemed to be on pace for a historic season.


Before Covid-19 put an end to all collegiate athletics across the nation, The Falcons found themselves in eighth place in the United States of America Gymnastics division. The top eight teams in the USAG make it to nationals and Seattle Pacific University was holding on to the last spot.


The SPU community will never know for sure if this SPU gymnastics team had what it took to make it to nationals, but despite this incredible sense of disappointment, the program still managed some bright spots in a dark era for sport everywhere.


The gymnastics program was the recipient of three highly coveted awards. Darian Burns won the Division II Gymnast of the Year award, Assistant Coach Kaytianna McMillian won Assistant Coach of the Year for Division II and first year Head Coach Sara Jean Marshall won Coach of the Year from the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.


“Being named MPSF Head Coach of the Year was a great honor,” Coach Marshall said. “ It wasn’t an easy year, but through all the challenges, emotions and hard work, I remain grateful to lead a program with such a rich history and tradition of success. I truly do love SPU gymnastics.”


While Marshall was highly successful this year, it was McMillian who claimed a national award for her work as a coach.


“Kaytianna has worked so hard in her rookie year as assistant coach at SPU and has made an immediate impact on this program,” Marshall said.


Star senior gymnast Darian Burns, whose Falcon resume includes two individual national titles, had bittersweet emotions toward her national award.


A female gymnastics coach points while talking to gymnasts
Marissa Lordahl
Head Coach Sarah Marshall gives her athletes direction on the uneven bars as they prepare for their first meet of the season.

“As a senior, I had hoped to finish out what has already been a pretty stellar career for myself, I hoped to go out with a bang,” Burns said.


“But that opportunity was taken away from me … So that being said, to be awarded Division II gymnast of the year and have my gymnastics recognized, celebrated and congratulated in such a prestigious and grand way, that was an even more incredible way to end my career than I could have imagined.”


Marshall believes that despite the unexpected ending, it’s important to take pride in the accomplishments from the part of the season that did happen.


“We can acknowledge all that we did accomplish this season and be so proud of that,” Marshall said.


“Everyone has a different reality right now and the individual experiences and emotions are vast and complex. As a team, we are working to get through this together, to stay united and keep our focus on those things that we can control right now.”