With the wintry and blustery conditions of Minnesota and Gustavus all but forgotten, the Gustavus Gymnastics Team traveled to the hot and humid island of Barbados for a weeklong training trip at the end of December through the beginning of January combining education and service with its training.
“We went to have some fun in the sun, do some team bonding, and continue our training,” Gustavus Gymnastics Head Coach Kris Glidden said.
The team left on Monday, December 27 and returned late on Monday, January 3 leaving the team with five days to spend together to train for the upcoming season, experience the island culture of Barbados and participate in a service opportunity by holding a gymnastics clinic.
“The gym we worked out in is the only center on the island of Barbados. We worked with 15 8-15 year-old gymnasts and their coaches in a three hour clinic. We set up drills for different skills on each event and helped them develop some of the skills they will be using in their routines for the upcoming season,” Senior Kelly Mathewson said. “It was very beneficial for both the gymnasts of that club as well as our team. Their motivation really reminded all of us what gymnastics is all about: the love of the sport.”
While service was a significant component on the trip, the majority of the team’s time was spent training for the season. “We trained four out of the five days there. Most every day we trained for two hours, usually in the morning and a couple times in the afternoon,” Glidden said.
The team also viewed the trip as a chance to further develop the team chemistry since only three out of the nineteen gymnasts on the team are seniors. “One of our motivations for taking the trip was to get closer as a team, and I think we accomplished that,” Glidden said.
With approximately 60% of Gustavus students studying abroad at some point during their four years at Gustavus, Glidden wanted to give her athletes a chance to travel, while maintaining their dedication to the team.
Outside of their training, the gymnastics team had an opportunity to travel while on the island. “We were able to take several different excursions. We took a catamaran cruise, where we saw the beautiful scenery and experienced the environment. The cruise was very relaxing,” Glidden said. “Then, we took Land Rover Jeeps to get right into the center of the island, and we saw the sugar cane, and all of the beautiful trees that are native to that area.”
As with traveling to any foreign country, the opportunity to absorb some of the culture is a unique experience. Even with their short stay in Barbados, the gymnastics team took advantage of these opportunities. “We were able to take in the Harbour Lights Dinner Show, which allowed us to learn a little bit more about the culture in Barbados and eat some of the great foods,” Glidden said.
The Gusties returned to the snowy confines of Minnesota to open their 2011 season at home against the defending Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Champions the University of Wisconsin at Whitewater on Saturday.