The GW gymnastics team earned national respect because it wins.
Head coach Margie Foster-Cunningham’s team won the Atlantic 10 Championship the past two seasons, and it was chosen to win it once again this year by the A-10 coaches.
Winning the conference championship is just one of three goals set by this determined group of performers. The others are reaching the NCAA regionals and qualifying for the National Championships.
These three goals are extremely attainable, said senior captain Erica Lewy. Darden (Wilee) and Devin (McCalla) are exceptional gymnasts on the team who provide us with big scores and the consistency we need.
McCalla (540.025) and Wilee (535.675) hold the top two spots at GW for individual point total in a single season (1999). They also hold GW’s top all-around scores for a competition, and they praise their coach for much of their success.
(Foster-Cunningham) is by far one of the most influential people in my life, McCalla said. I know the other girls feel the same. She is an exceptional coach, mother and role model.
I look to (Foster-Cunningham) for advice as well as confidence, Wilee said. She has built the person I am today as well as placed the building blocks for the person I want to be in the future.
Freshman newcomer Christy Gerard described the team as a tightly knit group.
We encourage and motivate each other, Gerard said. Most would say that their best friends are made here.
Sophomores Jessica Mantak and Kelley Banks return for GW, both having earned their way into the record books last season. Mantak scored a 9.875 on the uneven bars, placing fourth all-time in GW history. Banks earned a 9.900 on the balance beam last season, placing her tied for third all-time.
Returning juniors for GW include Stephanie Goldsmith, Lindsey Ferris, Amanda Forrest and Stacie Evans. The team also returns sophomore Jamie McNally and Maggie Suhanovsky and welcomes freshman Melissa Suter.
GW is coming off a victory in last Sunday’s six-team GW Invitational at the Smith Center. The Colonials have three home matches remaining, the next coming Feb. 7 against the University of Maryland.
The students at GW are great, and I wish we could get some more people to come out for the meets, Banks said. It is just a matter of checking it out.