The University of Alaska Anchorage gymnastics team kicked off the 2023 season in front of a lively crowd at the Alaska Aviation Center on Friday night.
Despite losing to the West Chester University Rams (191.000-189.175) in a dual meet, the Seawolves felt like the meet had won before either team stepped onto the floor in the first rotation.
After nearly being phased out due to budget cuts in 2020, the team secured the funding needed to return to work permanently last summer, securing the program’s future.
Seawolves head coach Marie-Sophie Bogash said, “It was a very emotional encounter for us. “I cried during the national anthem. That’s what it felt like. “
The Seawolves were able to play last year after returning for one season on a conditional basis, but it remains to be seen if they can build on their success if they fail to raise enough money to make a full comeback. I didn’t understand.
Bogash said, “It was very different in terms of what the emotions were going to be, what the calmness was going to be. “This time we knew we were really coming back. It was obviously very exciting.”
[UAA gymnastics reaches fundraising goal for permanent reinstatement]
The competition had 671 participants, according to the university’s athletic department. This is the number that Bogash can remember going through for a long time. She was pleasantly surprised by the number of students there.
“It was amazing,” she said. “I was a little nervous about having a meeting the weekend before classes resumed.”
Many community members and supporters also helped raise the $888,000 needed for a full return to work.
“I was so excited to see so many of the donors that made it possible to return to work, and so excited to see how full the student section was and how many posters were there,” Bogash said. “This is the community we’ve been trying to build for the past few years.”
She felt that the impressive turnout was proof that she had made the right decision to fight for the program’s future.
Although her team did not come out on top, she was pleased with the composure, overall execution and control they displayed in the event.
“I think we have achieved most of our goals,” said Bogash. “We were excited, embraced all the energy, tried to control the landing while minimizing the chances of the judges deducting points, and it worked really well.”
They have one of the largest rosters in the program’s history, but it’s a young team of seven freshmen, one alumni, and three seniors.
One of our seniors, Rachel Deshas, finished in the top three in all three events. This included her West McKenna in Chester with her Kissinger and floor exercises where she won with a score of 9.75, on the bar graph she scored 9.45 which tied her for second, and on the beam she scored 9.7 which she tied for third. It also includes the fact that it became
“It’s great and really exciting,” Deshas said. “It was really fun to feel the energy from such a large crowd.”
In her fifth season with the program, she enjoys her role as the team’s veteran leader and takes pride in being able to show young gymnasts “the Seawolf way.”
“Last year was a pretty big year because we had a pretty big upcoming class that we’ve never raced before because of COVID,” Decious said. “With so many people attending the competition this year, it was really fun showing the rest of the freshmen how to be a Seawolf.”
Despite the uncertainty of the program’s future over the past few years, she chose to stay because she felt so welcomed into the program after arriving on campus from Mesa, Arizona.
“Since I’ve been here, Alaska has felt like home,” Deshas said. “I came here for a visit. The teams that were here before were so great that I wanted to come here…We worked really hard in preseason and the hard work is paying off.”