It took a year of begging, but Morgan Traina ’15 finally got what she wanted.
After watching Shannon Miller lead the women’s gymnastics team to gold in the 1996 Olympics, a 4-year-old Traina was inspired to try gymnastics. But Traina’s mother, Pamela, was not immediately on board.
“I begged my mom for a year,” Traina said. “Finally, she said, ‘Fine, I’ll put her in a class. She won’t want to do it for long.’ I’ve stuck with it longer than she thought I would.”
Traina has never looked back. After just one full season, she has firmly established herself as one of the program’s top performers, capturing the 2012 ECAC Rookie of the Year Award and finishing third all-around at last year’s Ivy Classic. Traina accomplished all of this while filling a major leadership role on the team.
“She’s a great teammate and has already shown a lot of leadership,” team captain Stephanie Goldstein ’13 said. “Even in her first year she did all-around at every meet, which is a big deal for a freshman. She’s a really hard worker and a great contributor to the team.”
But Traina’s relationship with gymnastics has not always been so rosy. Although she loved the sport as a child, Traina said she questioned her commitment as a freshman and sophomore in high school. Due to the exhaustive time commitment, which was up to almost 40 hours a week, and a lack of girls her age at her gym, Traina was not enjoying herself anymore.
“I thought about quitting, but then realized I had put my entire life into it and I really wanted to be able to come to college and have fun with it” she said. “So I switched clubs and that made a really big difference. I decided I loved it again.”
Like her idol Miller, who was part of the first American Olympic team to win an Olympic gold, Traina is particularly gifted on the balance beam. She won state and regional titles on the beam in high school and was the Ivy League champion in the event last year. Her title-clinching mark of 9.825 was the sixth-highest beam score in the history of Yale gymnastics.
“Her beam routine has more difficulty than she needs for competition,” head coach Barbara Tonry said in an email to the News. “She anchors that event for the team at every competition.”
Traina never would have imagined a collegiate career for the Bulldogs as a young gymnast. UCLA head coach Valorie Kondos Field was a close family friend, and Traina had an offer to compete for the Bruins, a future she had long envisioned. Although it was a tough decision, Traina decided that she wanted a change of scenery and opted for Yale Blue.
Traina’s jump to the East Coast may have established a family tradition. Her younger sister Kacie will be a freshman on the team next year, a transition that Morgan is looking forward to.
“I’m so excited,” Traina said. “We’re really good friends and have always trained together. I didn’t want to push her into the decision, but I’m really glad she chose to come here.”
As Traina enters her second season, she hopes to continue enjoying college gymnastics, both on and off the mats.
“Everything in college has been more fun, which makes it easier,” Traina said. “I’ve enjoyed it all, even the hard days.”
Traina finished sixth all-around in the team’s first meet of this season Jan. 12.