Thursday, March 3, 2011

Danvers High Gymnast Skips Senior Prom for National Competition

Sarah Berry is all smiles for her national meet.
(photo by Alyssa M. Baxter)
By Alyssa M. Baxter
Gordon College News Service
(This story appeared March 4 in The Boston Globe, Danvers site.)

Danvers, MA—While Danvers High School students will be dancing at their senior prom on May 20 at Boston’s Seaport Hotel, senior Sarah Barry, 17, will be flipping across a four-inch balance beam, competing in the gymnastics meet of her life.

Barry has no regrets. In fact, since she found out that she, along with 22 other gymnasts, had been chosen to represent the state of Massachusetts at the National High School Gymnastics Association Senior Showcase Invitational in Fort Myers Beach, Florida, May 20-21, 2011, she’s already begun training.

A selection committee, made up of Massachusetts’ high school gymnastics coaches, nominates gymnasts to watch throughout the season for their anticipated success. Members of the committee let the gymnast know they are being observed for the national opportunity and offer suggestions for improvement, according to Heather Boepple, 28, Danvers High head gymnastics coach.

Barry, who took committee members’ advice and worked hard to improve her routines, was chosen based on her “coach-ability” as well as her gymnastics talent, said Boepple.

“She is not only a friend to everyone on the team, but she is a solid competitor,” said Boepple. “She is easy to work with and a hard worker.” Freshman teammate, Emily Knickle, 14, added, “She is helpful and encouraging too.”

 Known also for her consistency and dependability, Barry, a captain of the Danvers Falcons, often scores in the 9.0’s on beam. She even scored two 9.4’s, her season high, at two separate meets in the same day. 

“When competing, I’m in meet mode. I block everything else out and concentrate on being tight and doing my best,” said Barry. “Before meets, I try to stay relaxed and picture myself sticking my routines in my head. It gives me confidence.”

Among her other accomplishments, she was given the Coach’s Award for the 2008-2009 season, chosen by the coaches and given to the gymnast who stood out to them throughout the season because of their contributions. She was also named an NEC All-Star for the 2010-2011 season and placed 7th on beam and 10th on vault at the state individuals competition this year.

Barry, a four-year veteran for the Falcons, currently practices at Iron Rail Gymnastics in Wenham to prepare for the national meet in May, knowing many of her friends will be preparing for their prom while she’s away. Instead of riding in a limo, she’ll be flying to Florida for the national competition.

But Barry says it’s worth it to miss her prom. “Competing on this team is a privilege and it is an honor to be chosen. It is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me,” she said.


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