Barker - 042921

WHS gymnast Katie Barker 

Woodinville High School gymnasts have finally been able to reenter the gym for a shortened six-week season, after a long, forced hiatus caused by the pandemic. 

After just four weeks together, the girls proved successful with a team score of 176.35 compared to Bothell’s 164.65 in the first meet of the season on Saturday April 24.  

Freshman Emily Brouwers won the all-around event last weekend with a score of 37.15. She placed first on the beam and bars.  

“We had a lot of hurdles to overcome,” head coach Kathie Koch said in an interview. “But the girls have come together really well.” 

With only two meets left in the season, she added, the girls are focusing on having fun. Koch said the team has started to open up and laugh with one another in the last couple of weeks.

“This year, our mental mindset is that we're here to have fun,” Koch said. “We're here to be together, and we're here to be safe. So, if that means we take a step back from some things, we're okay with that.”

According to Koch, the team’s 15-person roster is made up of seven freshmen. She said the upperclassman have been doing a really nice job of training them and improving the team mentality. 

The young team is graduating three seniors this year: Sidney Mays, Ella Marvin and Lexi Burnhoft. 

“I just really applaud all of the seniors that came back,” Koch said. “This is really hard for them to come back for such a short time.” 

She said it took a lot of resilience and tenacity from those kids to make the choice to return. It’s all about the love of the sport, she added. 

Mays brings joy, laughter and fun to the team, Koch said. She is not afraid to fall and get back up again, she noted. The stand-out senior placed second in the all-around this weekend. 

Marvin, one of the team’s captains, can add leadership to her list of talents. Koch said she always comes up with great ideas to motivate her fellow gymnasts. As a cheerleader for WHS, she added, this senior is the biggest supporter of her team.

Burnhoft missed the first meet due to a vacation, but she will be back on the beam next week. According to Koch, her return to the shortened season shows her love of the sport and willingness to put in the effort.

The WHS gymnastics team won the KingCo district championship last year and went on to place second at state. Only one senior graduated last year, Koch said, leaving behind a young group. 

Koch said the state Department of Health requires students to mask up during practice and optionally during meets. When competing, students are allowed to remove masks based on personal preference. Koch said most of her kids choose to do vault and bars with the mask on because “they’re just used to it now.” Those who participate in floor and beam usually take off the mask to avoid equipment failure, she explained. 

With gymnastics occurring in the spring rather than winter, the team has taken advantage of bonding while enjoying the sunny weather. 

“With the weather being so nice, we've been able to sit together and watch the sunset,” she said. “It's something that we normally would not be able to do, but we're just kind of taking those moments of gratefulness and gratitude.” 

The next match will be Saturday, May 1 against Inglemoor at 5 p.m. 

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