No choice but to move forward

Student gymnasts reflect on the end an era

Gabe Sta Maria, Staff Reporter

FILE – Haven Lanzador, performs a beam routine during the winter 2020 season. (Jacky Chen, File )

With the forlorn ending of the Seattle Pacific University women’s gymnastics program this June, students on the team were left with unanswered questions and a feeling of dismay.

While a number of students who were on the women’s gymnastics roster decided to transfer after the program’s disbandment, a small number decided to stay on campus. Junior Emma Lamping, a former gymnast who decided to stay at SPU, shared her thoughts on the discontinuation of the program.

“I was shocked, I don’t think anyone saw it coming,” Lamping said in a Zoom call. “There was nothing that pointed to gymnastics being cut so this was all pure surprise.”

Lamping said she didn’t have any time to fully process her feelings due to the program’s sudden dissolution. She explained that the team never really received a good reason as to why the program got cut in the first place. After all, the program’s demise had nothing to do with the sport’s popularity, as the program drew in big crowds and carried a rich history.

Former SPU gymnast, junior Ciello Joie Magsanide also struggled to understand the program’s collapse.

“I just thought that my career would be over,” Magsanide said in a zoom call. “With the athletic department, I thought they would do everything that they could, but I’m just so frustrated and angry with them still.”

Magsanide went on to explain how the SPU gymnastics team reflected the university’s mission statement, “engage the culture and change the world” through their team’s diversity.

“[Our team] coming from Hawaii, Kansas, Oklahoma, Iceland and so much more. You see the other teams and most of them are from Washington.” Magsanide said. “Why would you discontinue the most diverse team and the sport that brought the most people to watch us compete?”

Magsanide still sees SPU as a home despite the disappearance of her passion. She expressed her comfortability with SPU’s academic model, as she appreciates having small classes. She also has a secure friend group at the school that makes it hard for her to think about leaving.

FILE – Head Coach Sarah Marshall took over the Seattle Pacific Gymnastics program for the 2020 season, here she discusses the first meet of the season with Corrin Coons and Jadacie Durst. (Marissa Lordahl, File)

Much of the gymnastics team took issue with and were confused by the reasoning the athletic department gave them for the decision to end the program.

“‘Lack of philosophical alignment to GNAC conference’ was one of the main reasons [the sports administration] gave and no one knows what that means,” Sophomore Ashtyn Winter said.

Winter explained that Athletic Director Jackson Stava and University President Dan Martin were the ones who broke the news to them.

“They were the ones who pretty much told us and had the final say and they weren’t very nice and didn’t seem very understanding [of the situation],” Winter said in a Zoom call.

Winter said that the thought of leaving SPU has crossed her mind, but she understands the difficult reality of transferring. She also loves Seattle and her friends which is why she decided it was best to stay at SPU.

The reasoning for the athletic department’s decision to discontinue the program was based on the lack of programs of similar size to compete against in the area. That problem would have been further compounded with the announcement that the University of Alaska Anchorage made on September 18. The Seawolves decided to cut four of their athletic programs, including women’s gymnastics. That leaves only three division II gymnastics programs in the United States.

SPU, currently has no plans to re-establish the gymnastics program. Although, a hopeful community still believes in its possible return. A petition named “Reinstate Seattle Pacific Women’s Gymnastics,” currently has about 19,000 signatures and is continuing to grow.

Athletic Director Jackson Stava knows that this decision had a huge impact on the former gymnasts of SPU.

“I fully recognize that these student athletes had their lives altered greatly by this decision and will likely never agree or fully understand our decision,” Stava said in an email. “The discontinuation of this program was in no way a commentary on these young women nor their success, and I hope they continue that success as they complete college and go onto great things after graduation.”