Isn’t it true that it’s an incredible advantage for athletes to begin a sport early in their lives? Proof of this is everywhere, with Gianna Acquino being proof herself. She is the Shaker High School girls varsity gymnastics team captain. She started taking lessons when she was two, and joined a team at just four years old!
Gianna has came a long way on her gymnastics journey. In seventh grade, she joined the girls varsity gymnastics team. She wasn’t great. She was only 11 years old, didn’t know all of the rules, and hadn’t practiced certain skills needed for varsity yet. But despite all of this, her scores were typically on the top half compared to everyone else on the team, stating her all-around scores were about 25-27.
Scoring in high school gymnastics works like this: there are 4 events that a gymnast must perform, which are beam, vault, uneven bars, and floor. A gymnast has the chance to score up to a 10 on each event. Their all-around score is the sum of the scores that they get on each event, with the maximum score being 40, a perfect 10 for all four events. This means in 7th grade, Gianna´s scores from the four events typically added up to 25-27.
She practiced gymnastics a lot, making it a big part of her life since she was a child. In the third grade, she joined a team known as Northbeast. She remained on that team for 6 years until she joined a new, more competitive team at the beginning of her freshman year, known as Ace. Gianna stated that in 10th grade, she would have 24 hours of practice per week at Ace, as well as having 7 hours of practice per week at Shaker during the winter season.
She has overcome a multitude of obstacles over the years. In 9th grade, she broke her hand while doing a drill, hitting it on the corner of a mat, which sidelined her for 9 months. She also suffered a concussion by falling off a beam in 11th grade, which sidelined her for 3 months. Other than injuries, she has kept up with school excellently, taking multiple advanced classes. However, Gianna says that her high level of schoolwork has also been an obstacle for gymnastics, causing her mental stress. Despite these obstacles and challenges, Gianna worked hard to improve over several years, and now she is the captain of her high school team, averaging an all-around score of 31-33 as a senior.
Gianna believes her leadership skills have greatly improved over time. When asking her about her journey, she said ¨In seventh grade, I was 11, shy, and I didn´t know what to do. Overtime, I’ve been learning skills and rules, and I´ve helped coach at my gym, which helped me learn to help others.¨ Since varsity is the only level offered for gymnastics, the team is filled with many young girls, some still being in the junior high. Since there are so many young Shaker gymnasts looking up to Gianna, she has a big role in impacting the future of the team. As the captain, some of her jobs are to make sure everyone knows what they’re supposed to do and where to be, help girls with nerves when they go up in front of people, let them know that falling or messing up isn’t the end of the world, and to keep the team spirit up. ¨It is not the easiest sport to be the captain of, since it’s not exactly a team sport,¨ Gianna says. She claims her main job is to ¨make sure everyone is positive towards each other, which I try to do.¨ When asked for what helps motivate and inspire her, she responded by naming some great olympians, of course. But the main thing she stated was that ¨friends motivate you. They become family, you’d do anything for them. You grow together, spend time together, and eventually, they become your motivation to continue. You do it for them.¨ After dedicating a lot of her life to the sport, and experiencing much of what the sport has to offer, Gianna is sure to make a great impact on Shaker Gymnastics in her final season.