Gymnastics Team Defeats Needham on Senior Night

Loosening of COVID-19 restrictions allows for a normal season


Image/ Katie Gillis

For their entire 2020-2021 season, Walpole High School’s gymnastics team was unable to compete at a single in-person meet due to COVID-19 guidelines. Instead of opposing teams competing at the same gym, each team would compete at a separate location and then submit their scores afterward. While this gave them the opportunity to compete, it was not comparable to a normal season.

Fortunately, due to the reduction of COVID-19 restrictions over the past year, the 2021-2022 season has proven to be a much more traditional experience. All of the team’s meets have been in-person this year, including the Bay State Conference meet, which allowed Walpole to compete against eight other teams. Although masks were required the majority of the time while in the gym, the team was able to take their masks off while they competed.

“This season has definitely been much better than last season with COVID-19,” senior captain Maddie Folan said. “Especially since this was my last year, it was exciting to have a normal season again.”

The opportunity to return to a more traditional format helped prepare the Timberwolves for their senior night victory over Needham on Jan. 28. The team credits much of their success to their head coach, Julie Anderer. Anderer began coaching at the start of last season, however did not have the opportunity to coach at a traditional meet until this year.

For seniors Folan, Julie Blake and Allison Conley, this meet was particularly bittersweet. Because none of the three plan to participate in gymnastics during college, this senior night meet was the last home meet of their gymnastics careers.

“Gymnastics has given me some of my best memories and it is definitely hard to say goodbye, but it was nice to win on senior night and end on a high note,” Folan said.

Image/ Katie Gillis

However, Folan, Blake and Conley feel confident that they are leaving the team in good hands. The cutback on COVID-19 restrictions over the last year has allowed the team to build a much stronger bond and connection than they did during last season. Plus, Walpole is fortunate to have a talented group of underclassmen, including freshman Kate Verderber and sophomores Emma Bianculli and Kate Graham, who are among the team’s highest scorers.

“We think that this team has a bright future,” Blake said. “The underclassmen have proven themselves time and time again as great competitors. Throughout the whole season, the team was welcoming and happy, which we hope carries on for years to come.”