The latest addition to the Rough Riders' athletic

By Tom Hardesty Record-Courier staff writer Published:

The latest addition to the Rough Riders' athletic department is entering its first season as a varsity sport this winter. But at the moment, it's being stored behind the counter until it's time to be picked up next month.

And there is a good reason why the Rough Riders haven't started Ohio High School Athletic Association-sanctioned competition as of yet: the members of the team also compete for FLYTZ Gymnastics in Kent, and gymnasts can't perform for a high school team and a club team at the same time.

"The original schedule that we built consisted of 11 meets," said Roosevelt athletic director John Nemec. "We have since dropped six of those meets because our athletes want to continue their competition with FLYTZ Gymnastics.

"The state rules say you can't compete concurrently in an independent program and an interschool program, so we made a decision to hold off on interschool competition until Jan. 23."

On that date, the Rough Riders, coached by FLYTZ instructor Patti Johnson, will officially begin OHSAA competition. Thus far, they have been practicing as a FLYTZ team and entering FLYTZ competition.

"We have developed a partial schedule of dual meets and plan on entering state competition the first week of March," said Nemec. "Our season will not begin until Jan. 23 to allow our gymnasts to continue competition with FLYTZ Gymnastics. On Jan. 23, we become a team and will compete in five dual meets."

For all intents and purposes, the Roosevelt gymnastics team was actually born about a year ago.

"Last winter, a number of (gymnastics) parents contacted the administration and said they were interested in re-instituting gymnastics," said Nemec. "The administration met with them and made the decision to go ahead and honor their request, providing the parents could raise money to help support the first year of this venture.

"The parents successfully raised the money to get it started, and we decided to institute a team this year."

The Rough Riders' roster currently consists of eight girls, "four of whom are experienced gymnasts," said Nemec. "One, however, is injured and we hope she will be ready for state competition.

"So far, I've gotten to know the girls on the team and I'm very impressed with their attitude. They're very nice kids who'd like to see this situation take hold. We're trying to help them any way we can so that they can achieve success."

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