By Kevin J. Stone, Contributing Writer
NORTHBOROUGH/SOUTHBOROUGH – The Algonquin gymnastics team was in the process of making history when the world shut down due to COVID-19 two years ago.
They had already won at sectionals, placed second at states and were heading to the New England round of postseason competition for the first time since 2012. Then, the pandemic hit and forced the cancellation of the event.
The team had a few meets last year and ended up going unbeaten in them. But it wasn’t the same.
Now, as tryouts began this year, there was an overwhelming sense of joy and excitement about the prospect of having a full season again.
“I’m so excited, it’s good to be back to normal and everything is pretty much the same except we’re still wearing masks,” head coach Jordan McStay said in a recent interview. “We have a full season. We’re having leagues, sectionals, states. It’s just good to be back to normal.”
Debroczy, Gorman, Haven lead team as captains
Lizzy Debroczy was a young phenom in that 2019-2020 season. Now, as seniors, Debroczy and classmate Mia Gorman form a dynamic duo at the top of Algonquin’s roster.
McStay couldn’t be happier to have the two of those players back together for one last run, along with fellow senior captain Anna Haven.
“Hopefully those two make the senior national team,” she said. “Hopefully they make individuals.”
“Anna’s come so far since her freshman year,” McStay continued, noting Haven’s successes and strengths. “The three of them are really all great leaders and will be huge pieces to the puzzle for us this season.
“They’re very strong and their skill level is very high, but when it comes to the team aspect, they put that over their own individual competition,” she said. “If they’re injured, they’re more than happy to step away and compete and they’re on the sidelines cheering the team on. [They] bring the team spirit, for sure.”
There are plenty of other seniors on this year’s team. Caroline Armstrong, Max Hanna, Olivia Lipman, Madison Maletta, Kirsty O’Grady and Luke Tegan are all part of the 2022 class along with Gorman, Debroczy and Haven.
Coach optimistic ahead of 2021-2022 season
McStay was on the team in 2012 the last time Algonquin had the kind of success that its 2019 – 2020 iteration did. She said the loss of the 2019 – 2020 season’s final playoff rounds was disappointing.
“The girls were just ready to go and have the meet of their lives,” she said.
McStay is optimistic, though, after her team was able to hone its craft in last year’s abbreviated slate of games.
“Honestly, I think we might be better than we were two years ago, because everyone was able to just really focus on improving their skills last year in a not-as-competitive setting where there may have been some pressure,” McStay said.
Those postseason competitions remain months away. But as McStay works with her team, this month, she’s reminding them of one thing in particular — “Enjoy it, because you never know when it won’t be part of your life anymore.”
“I even said that last year with the season being so weird, I could see them getting frustrated at times and I had to remind them like, ‘Listen, we could have nothing,” McStay said. “We could not be doing gymnastics at all, we could not have any meets at all, we could just be practicing. So, we just need to enjoy what we have.”