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Gymnastics: North building confidence in inaugural season
North Forsyth freshman Charley Walker works through her routine during a meet this season. Photo courtesy Lily McGregor Photography

North Forsyth Gymnastics Roster:

Darisel Rivera-Blondit, senior

Parker Muir, junior

Abby Freeman, freshman

Brenna Kudlas, freshman

Olivia Preston, freshman

Gabby Souffrant, freshman 

Charley Walker, freshman 

When North Forsyth gymnastics head coach Lynne Tatum set out to help start a gymnastics program, she said she was just doing it so her daughter, an eighth-grader who will attend North this fall, would have a place to compete.

“I’m just a mom looking to help her child have an opportunity to play a high school gymnastics season next year,” Tatum said. 

Tatum said she knew the school had wanted to add a program the past few years, and that this year’s freshman class had a big enough draw to gymnastics that it alone could field a team. North athletic director Scott Tilden started working with a local gym and hired former gymnast Emma Richardson with Fusion Athletic Center to join Tatum along for the journey. 

After holding two separate interest meetings, North filled out its first-ever gymnastics roster with seven athletes: five freshmen, one junior and one senior. 

Tatum said one of her biggest worries has been finding enough girls interested in gymnastics, but said her team was nowhere near as small as others they have competed against. 

In Georgia High School Association gymnastics, only the top three scorers impact the team’s overall score, so only three athletes are needed to compete. 

Learning how GHSA gymnastics is different from club gymnastics has been one of the most fun parts of her first year of coaching, Tatum said. Tatum competed in gymnastics when she was younger and played volleyball in college and is now incorporating everything she’s learned about being on a team to the mat. 

“All the girls and coaches have been enjoying learning the rules together,” Tatum said. “It’s been fun strategizing and learning a routine to get down the difficulty and execution to raise our scores.”

Their first meet was shaky, but Tatum said she was so proud of how much her team improved in their second meet. She credits their first performance to a case of having to get out the first-meet jitters. 

With the county meet on March 29, Tatum said she has no reason to believe her team will not continue to keep improving on their previous scores. The top 10 teams at the meet move onto the prelim event before the state tournament. North is currently ranked No. 15. 

“I think our scores can be way better. Now that we have two meets under our belt, our girls are well equipped and ready for this meet,” Tatum said. “Building their confidence is so important, because they’re definitely physically prepared for it. Being in front of an audience brings added pressure.”

Despite rankings or team success, the whole team goes back to a mom wanting to make sure that her daughter had a team to join and make lifelong friends 

“I love being a part of a team,” Tatum said. “I love watching the girls cheer each other on and develop friendship. Being a part of a team is so special because a lot of the time those people become your best friends. I love getting to experience that from a different perspective.”

North Forsyth's first-ever gymnastics roster features five freshmen, one junior and one senior. Photo courtesy Lily McGregor Photography