It’s the perfect time to share coaching duties, as far as Kristen Buschke is concerned.
With six new gymnasts this year and only three back from varsity, Samantha Etienne has joined her to become co-coaches of the Sheboygan co-op team.
“With all these new girls, it’s helpful because when we’re at practice, it’s not just me,” Buschke said. “The skill level is really varied on our teams, so one of us can focus on one group and the other can focus on the other group, and kind of divide and conquer. So everyone on the team gets the most out of practice.”
Etienne moved from Minnesota in August when she was hired at South as an English teacher.
Part of the application/interview process asks candidates to list if they would be interested in coaching or becoming involved in other extra-curricular activities.
Since Etienne has competed in the sport since the third grade and coached three years at the club level, she listed gymnastics.
The co-op asked her to join Buschke, especially since Etienne says she is good at getting people excited about gymnastics. And if they have not done the sport in the past, she gets them familiar with the basics of it.
“We’re trying to get our new girls to the point where they can compete at the JV level in the next month or so here,” Etienne said. “They’re coming in with little to no gymnastics background.”
Etienne says she starts them out at the most basic level of everything, including simply walking across the beam.
“I think I’m able to do that well because I have coached younger kids before who are going into the club atmosphere that are just starting,” Etienne said. “I’m comfortable and confident in teaching the basics, so we start there. We get them comfortable with every event and then I think the biggest thing is getting them to move past their fears. They’re kind of afraid of the beam, and afraid of going over the vault and stuff.”
So Etienne will ask the gymnasts what they are afraid of.
If one says she is afraid of falling off the beam, the coach asks the girl what is going to be the result if that happens.
The usual response is simply falling on the mat.
Etienne will ask if that is it, and the answer is yes.
The coach asks why they are afraid then, and no one knows.
So just do it, Etienne says.
“You know, it’s a lot of those conversations,” the co-coach said. “I’m really happy with how they’re progressing already. They’re already showing a lot of growth and progress, so that’s a good thing.”
Not every girl is new to the team, however.
Sheboygan, which finished third in the Eastern Valley Conference last year, returns three girls from that squad.
North senior Nadia Versey begins her fourth varsity season coming off a ninth-place showing on the bars at the conference championship meet.
Buschke says they are hoping for a strong all-around score from Versey in her last season.
“She is working on upping her difficulty on beam and floor,” Buschke said. “So those are the two areas we’re kind of focusing on right now.”
South junior Annika Glavan finished the all-around fifth at the conference meet but was competing half of the season with an injury.
She is fully healed, which means more time to develop her routine.
“She’s raring to go,” Buschke said. “Her floor and beam look really strong right now. There’s always hope for maybe going to state as an individual. That would be a goal for her.”
North sophomore Kailey Kaltenbrun is also back. She was seventh in the all-around at the EVC Championship as a freshman, and has a strong beam.
“She’s a very good presence on beam,” Buschke said. “She’s technically very good, so as long as she can stay on and doesn’t fall, she’ll basically have a really good beam score I’m thinking. That’s her biggest improvement from last year and what I’m focusing on with her.”
AT A GLANCE
Last year: 3rd in
Eastern Valley Conference
- Samantha Etienne has joined Kristen Buschke as co-coach.
- Three girls return from varsity and there are six new gymnasts.
GLAD TO BE BACK
Annika Glavan: The junior was the top all-around girl for her team at the conference championship meet last year, as she finished fifth with 31.000 points. She was fifth on the floor exercise, eighth on the vault, ninth on the uneven bars and 11th on the balance beam.
Kailey Kaltenbrun: The sophomore ended seventh in the all-around and eighth on the beam as a freshman at conference.
Nadia Versey: The senior, on her fourth varsity season, tied Glavan for ninth on the bars.
TOUGH TO REPLACE
Maddie Lewis: She tied for second on the vault at conference.
Kylie Mazza: At the conference meet, she was seventh on the floor and ninth on the vault.
Breck Kampmann: She placed 11th on the bars as a senior last year.