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home : columns : columns June 24, 2016

2/5/2014 9:19:00 AM
Hard not to think about what could have been

Joel Alvstad
Sports Editor

For the last couple of seasons, Cobra gymnastics coach Cheryl Bass has been in kind of an unenviable position.
Bass has coached the Cobras for the past year or so. In that time, she has also coached the Cobra Kids youth program.
About six or so years ago, the Cobra Kids youth team qualified for state competition. That team was led by the current Cobra varsity team's three seniors: Miki Bolin, Hannah Kloss and Megan Theesfeld. Also on that team was Cheryl's daughter, Haley Jo.
Because Bass coached the Cobras, Haley competed for the Cobra Kids all the way through the elementary ranks. But once she hit seventh grade, she began to compete at the high school level for Jackson County Central, where she is currently a sophomore.
The Bass family lives in the Bergen area, basically just down the road from the Windom school district line.
That puts the Cobras' coach in a tough spot, especially on Tuesday. She coached her team, but kept an eye on her daughter at the same time.
It's also made for some juggling of the Cobras' schedule, to allow Cheryl the chance to see Haley compete.
Last Tuesday, the four former Cobra Kids stood together on the podium for the last time together when the awards for the all-around competition were announced. Haley Bass finished first, scoring a 35.325. She was followed by Bolin (34.6), Theesfeld (34.075) and Kloss (34.025).
"It was pretty emotional seeing those girls together on the podium, probably for the last time in their careers," Coach Bass said. "Those girls had a lot of fun together in Cobra Kids."
With sections just around the corner, all four girls will be taking their best shot to qualify for the state meet.
But seeing the girls, who came through the youth program Bass ran, atop the podium last Tuesday gave a sense of satisfaction for the Cobras' coach.
"JCC has had an outstanding youth program for a long time," Bass said. "But it was a pretty good feeling knowing that their top all-arounder is a product of the Cobra Kids program."
For quite some time, Bass has lobbied for year-round gymnastics equipment to be in place somewhere in Windom or Mt. Lake to allow the girls in the gymnastics program the chance to work on their skills more extensively.
The top-tier programs in the section and in the state all have year-round gear. In Windom, once gymnastics season is done, the equipment is stored away to make way for batting cages or volleyball nets.
Before the construction of the new gym, the Cobra team practiced and competed at the Windom Community Center. Once the gym addition was finished, using the Community Center was deemed too cost prohibitive.
Before that, the team used what is now the BARC, but they could not keep their equipment up year-round due to plays.
The benefit of year-round equipment is the opportunity to work on skills, particularly on bars and beam. Anyone who has followed Cobra gymnastics over the years can tell you the big difference between the Cobras and teams with year-round equipment are the scores and skills on bars and beam.
There's no telling what the future of gymnastics in the Cobra program holds. But one thing is certain. Without the option of staying in town to work on equipment that is up year-round, future gymnasts will have the same two choices the current Cobra gymnasts do: travel, a lot, to find year-round equipment to train on during the off-season, or don't train in the off-season, which could mean settling for not reaching their full potential.
Neither option is ideal.
Another interesting side note from last Tuesday that can't help but make one think "what if?"
What if Haley Bass lived in the Windom district and attended Windom schools? What if those girls from the former Cobra Kids team were all together on one varsity?
The combined team would have scored a 138.025 team score last Tuesday night. Prior to the 140 Worthington scored Friday night, that would be the highest score by any team in the section this year to date.

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