Throughout my experience as a gymnast for 13 years, I was looking for something new and acrobatics and tumbling was calling my name. Being part of Gannon’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team has been an amazing opportunity to try something new and be part of a sport that has grown across the nation.
My first day practicing on the Acrobatics and Tumbling team did not go as I had hoped. As I went for a tumble run, my achilles tendon completely tore and I needed surgery to have the tendon reconstructed. I was devastated. I thought that my whole college career was over.
My fellow seniors, Michaela Soper ’18, Hayley Nejman ’18, Elizabeth Martin ’18 and Kelsey Leclair ’18 were by my side during this time of despair. Hayley and I were rivals competing in gymnastics growing up, but as soon as I got injured she was there to make sure I was okay. Michaela physically carried me off the floor that day. I am so thankful for the support I had from my team who I will always consider my family.
Their support motivated me to find a way to still be part of the team. So, I practiced other skills that didn’t involve my achilles like handstands and conditioning. I was able to compete in four heats that year for the team, two of which I made the national event finals. Experiencing a national championship after such adversity with some of my teammates was a surreal feeling.
My coaches over the years, Chevonne White, who coached in 2014-2017, and Jacquie Eshleman and Alia Nolan, my current coaches, have made my experience incredible. Without the constant support from my teammates and coaches, I would not be half the person or athlete I am today.
Of course, the thought of getting a new coach can be frightening and different, but I’m so thankful to have been coached by Jacquie and Alia. In just one season, we moved from a seventh seed to a fifth seed because they continued to inspire and push our team. They’ve always encouraged me to be the best possible athlete and person I can be.
Chelsea Cowan '18 celebrating the Acrobatics and Tumbling Team's third national title.
Not only did our coaches prepare us for competitions, but they also prepared us for life. Over the years I have grown mentally and developed a better understanding of discipline, accountability and respect. I owe everything to my amazing teammates and coaches!
In the classroom, my professors have been supportive of my role as a student-athlete. They have always been accommodating when I had to miss classes to go on trips for competitions and always made sure that I had all of the information I needed to understand what I had missed previously. My nursing professors have been exceptional, not only in accommodating me, but also recognizing our team’s success. From bringing in newspaper articles that were written about us, or even coming to my competitions when they were at home. The recognition is really meaningful, especially because they do not have to go the extra mile to attend competitions or recognize success, but they do it because they truly care.
When I started on the team in 2014, the sport was in its second year at Gannon. It’s amazing to look back and see how far our team has grown. From not even attending nationals as a team my freshman year, to hosting the National Championship my senior year, I can’t wait to see what the future holds for the team! I’m truly thankful and blessed for the student-athlete experience I’ve had at Gannon University.