20-member program regroups after losing last year's grads
The impact of Torrey Pines High School's gymnastics team goes well beyond the glittery gold eye shadow swept across their eyelids and the cardinal ribbons in their hair. After all, the team's sweatshirts read "bleed cardinal, sweat gold."
The gymnastics team's trademarks include hard-stuck vault landings, beautiful extensions on the parallel bars, terrific tumbling on floor and championship banners. Last year, the squad won its second consecutive league championship.
Although Torrey Pines' gymnastics program maintains a low profile - even the parallel bars are hidden in the wrestling room behind the bleachers - what the sport does for its athletes is no mystery.
"It gives the girls the opportunity to build self confidence," coach Denise Sterger said. "It's a different way to achieve success rather than just in the classroom."
The Falcons compete against five North County teams: Mt. Carmel, Rancho Bernardo, La Costa Canyon, Poway and Westview. Canyon Crest Academy's "team" is made of one athlete, Mariana Zentano, who competes at the meets for the school but is scored individually.
Sterger said this year's 20-member team is regrouping after many teammates graduated last year.
This year, the team leaders are Shannon DeParalta and Sidney Williams, Sterger said. DeParalta is a standout on beam and bars while Williams is "strong on every event," Sterger said.
The junior varsity team members are enthusiastic. The girls never stop smiling and don't get discouraged even when some struggle on the parallel bars.
Most of the girls work out year-round at TRC Gymnastics in Solana Beach, including Ximena Cole, a 13-year gymnastics veteran, who one teammate called "The Amazing One."
Sterger has the team in the gym Monday through Thursday.
"It's pretty intense," she said. "When they're here I make them work. There's not a lot of time to goof off."
While not a lot of the girls go on to do gymnastics at the college level, Sterger said Torrey Pines has built up a great tradition of seniors going on to attend college at University of Michigan and compete on their club gymnastics team. The tradition may continue as Haley Glathorn just returned from a recent visit, Sterger said.