Courtesy of Yale Athletics

Although Yale Gymnastics lost against Temple at John J. Lee Amphitheater on Sunday, the team finished with the second-highest team score of their season — 193.600 points. 

The meet on Sunday held extra weight as it was also their “My Cause, My Ribbon” meet, in which each gymnast competed in support of a unique cause. Gymnasts raised awareness for a wide variety of issues, among them sexual assault, neuroblastoma and liver cancer. 

“Everyone chose a cause that they feel passionate about, either from personal experience or hardships or the experience of family or friends that they want to bring light to,” said Oren Aviad ’25. “Mine was spinal cord injury awareness, specifically tied to one of my teammates, Melanie Coleman, who passed away a few years ago due to a spinal cord injury as a result of a gymnastics accident.”

Coleman was a 20-year-old gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University who died in November 2018 after suffering a spinal cord injury when she slipped from the uneven bars. 

The team tries to have themes or causes for which they wish to compete at many of their home meets. However, according to Aviad, “we [the team] wanted to make it more personal and give everyone the opportunity to highlight the cause they feel passionate about.”

The team did just as that as seniors Aimee Titche ’23, Alexa Berezowitz ’23, Caitlin Henry ’23, Cassie Clement ’23, Raegan Walker ’23 and Riley Meeks ’23 raised awareness for mental health, suicide prevention, pancreatic cancer, spinal cord injuries, breast cancer and sexual assault, respectively. 

In the meet itself, Gigi Sabatini ’26, and Walker posted Yale’s highest scores on vault, 9.725, tying for fifth place. Aviad was less than 0.1 behind her teammates in this high-powered event. 

“Now that we have a few meets under our belts, we are trying to clean our routines up and start focusing on the details,” Sabatini said.

Sabatini competed this past weekend in support of mental health awareness because members of her family have struggled with their mental health, and it is a prevalent issue overall in college athletics. 

Sarah Wilson ’24 and Sherry Wang ’24 took third and fourth, respectively, on the uneven bars. The team score on the uneven bars was the team’s second-best of the day, just behind the floor team score of 48.700. 

On the spring floor, up-and-coming first-year student Megan Brueck ’26 flipped, tumbled and leaped her way to a second-place finish with a 9.775. 

On the aggregate, the team was just slightly under a point below their season-best team score of 194.250 that they earned against the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. 

Head coach Andrew Leis told the News agrees with Sabatini’s point of focusing on the details to improve the scores overall. 

“The consistency is improving daily in practice and competition, so getting every tenth back by sticking dismounts and doing error-free gymnastics is our focus going forward,” Leis said.

Leis said he enjoys competing against bigger state schools such as UNC and Temple, no matter the team. 

“Every time we step out onto the floor, we want to win, and that is what motivates us on a daily basis,” he continued. 

The Bulldogs will host their sentimental Tonry Invitational this coming Sunday at 1:00 pm in the Lee Amphitheater. This is the team’s yearly chance to honor Barbara Tonry’s life as a coach, gymnast and contributor to Yale Gymnastics. 

The late head coach died in July 2021.

Paloma Vigil is the Arts Editor for the Yale Daily News. She previously served as a DEI co-chair and staff reporter for the University and Sports desks. Past coverage includes religious life, Yale College Council, sailing and gymnastics. Originally from Miami, she is a junior in Pauli Murray College majoring in Psychology and Political Science.