The student news site of Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.

Gymnasts adjust to practice relocation

January 8, 2018

After having practiced at Homestead for over a decade, the Homestead girls gymnastics team was relocated to North Shore Gymnastics on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. Meets will continue to be held at Homestead. 

According to Athletic Director Erich Hinterstocker, the “process was started over a year ago and we had a meeting in October of 2016 with some of the gymnastics families.”

The gymnastics team, however, felt the move to be more abrupt. “Truthfully, we didn’t really think about the move until it became so sudden. So sudden that we couldn’t really do much to save it from happening. As a co-captain I have tried with my co-captain to change the ultimate fate of moving, but our efforts have ultimately failed. That doesn’t mean we will stop fighting,” Olivia Rossman, junior and co-captain, said.

In Hinterstocker ‘s words, “We told them that the direction that we were looking to go is to try to find an off site, dedicated gymnastics facility for our gymnastics team to train.”

The main reason for the move is to give the gymnastics team members more access to high-caliber equipment that will help them to grow in a safe environment. Hinterstocker added that, “A high school doesn’t have access to pits and things of that nature that become really important when you are learning a trick off the high bar for the first time.”

The North Shore facility adds four more beams (three high beams and one low beam), two extra sets of bars, one vault runway, and pits the team would not have access to at Homestead. However, the team must also share the site with the club team members as well as the Cedarburg/Grafton gymnastics teams. Rossman addressed these problems saying, “Not only did we have to share equipment with a team in our conference, we share it with classes.”

Rossman furthermore described the environment saying, “For example: if we were at beam and there was a private [lesson] taking over one beam; we had four beams to share with 10 people. This causes a bunch of unproductivity during practice. With that [and the shortened time] it will be a big adjustment, and I hope our scores will not suffer for upcoming meets. This isn’t even the half of it unfortunately; I’m just trying to tell it how it is.”

Instead of the gymnastics team using the auxiliary gym space (the far corner of the field house), it will be used for a few different programs, but nothing specific. “Previous to this year, the gymnastics team had a true home, the auxiliary gym, where we never had to worry about being kicked out or moved for certain events and other teams,” Rossman said.

It will ultimately be utilized by, “PE first, it’s an educational space first, and then it’s everything else that we have, its Mequon-Theinsiville School District recreation department programs, its rentals, its all kinds of stuff. It’s band and orchestra, its parent teacher conferences. The list goes on and on,” Hinterstocker said.

It is also an added bonus that this space is now open to generate revenue.

“The gym availability in the winter in a state like ours is premium. To be able to have more space is a good thing,” Hinterstocker commented.

Regarding transportation and cost, the team will be providing their own transportation to the space. The athletic department did have a team parent offer to drive the district van, but it is not being used. The cost is, “a per person precession charge so, yearly it’s based on the number of student athletes and the number of days they spend there,” Hinterstocker explained.

The team is adjusting to the new space. With several individual state hopefuls, “the team is hoping for the best and keeping a positive mindset for the rest of the season,” Natalie Ceelen, senior and co-captain, said.

Katey Van Vooren, junior, added, “The conclusion of our season will be different than anything we have experienced so far, but this will not stop us in finishing our season off well.”

Overall, “We are very grateful for the space North Shore has provided us. We just really want our home back,” Ceelen said.

*Some quotes have been edited for accuracy

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11 Comments

11 Responses to “Gymnasts adjust to practice relocation”

  1. Sandi Tracy on January 8th, 2018 10:16 pm

    To be honest it appears that Homestead High School is no longer supporting the girl’s gymnastics program. My daughter is a HHS alumni and competed varsity gymnastics for four years for HHS. The equipment is top notch. The only thing Clubs have to offer different then high school equipment wise is a pit and trampoline. During season gymnasts are not concentrating on learning new high level skills but rather focusing on cleaning up what they have. Off season is when most of the gymnasts chose to learn higher level skills. There are plenty of programs available off season for the athletes to improve or learn new skills. Moving the sport to an off site location is the first step in eliminating the program. For one, half the team can not drive to an off location site because they are too young to drive. Secondly, how much time will the gymnasts actually get to work out on the equipment? Club teams are competing as well and the first option will be to offer equipment to the in house club teams and those with private lessons. Thirdly, how ridiculous is it to work out at the same gym with opposing teams? This decision to move the team off site is so wrong on so many levels. Sounds to me like the AD does not want to support high school gymnastics. What other options have been explored? Can some of the basket ball teams move off site let’s say to Range Line or the Y? Can wrestling move off site? Why is Homestead offering the ancillary gym (the gym that was used for gymnastics) to other programs? Is recreational programming taking precedence over a girls high school sport? Would our football players be forced to practice with an opposing team off site? We all know the answer to that question. Anyone who buys in to moving the gymnastics team off site as a good idea for the team clearly does not understand how high school gymnastics works. This is the beginning of the end for the Homestead’s Girl’s Gymnastic Team. Its a discriminatory move against a girl’s team. Truly disappointing!

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  2. Katie Vollrath on January 9th, 2018 10:03 am

    As the Events Coordinator at North Shore Academy of Gymnastics, I’d like to share a few thoughts on the context of this article.

    Between the hours of 3pm and 5pm, our gym is split into two primary sections-the Team side and the Recreational side. From 3pm to 4:30pm Monday thru Friday our Recreational side is essentially empty. We have one class each day that starts during that time frame, with 6-8 children between 3 and 5 years old depending on the class. These children use the Rec side of our gym, with 10 minutes of potential pit usage each day.

    Our Team side, during the hours of 3pm til 4:30pm, houses one team of gymnasts, with 12 athletes. Tuesdays and Thursdays we host a small group conditioning class with 8 people using weights bungees boxes and climbing ropes. We have a full size floor with pit and resi pit landing access, 2 vault runways one with vault access to pit landings, 6 high beams, 3 low beams, 3 portable floor beams. 3 full sets of bars, 3 single bars and high bar over the pit. Before 4 pm the 2nd floor, 3 more beams and various other equipment is accessible on our Rec side as well. When I do the math, if a private lesson is using one beam, 10 athletes have access to 5 high beams and 3 low beams, with possible additional beams on the rec side and 3 floor beams that can be placed virtually anywhere.

    At 430pm, during the last 1/2 hour of the gymnasts training, we run large team groups and several classes through their warmups. Both teams’ coaches were advised to use this time to wrap up event training on beam and bars, the two areas least likely to be used until after 5pm. I have followed up daily with the coaches of this team, asking if they were running into any issues with equipment usage/availability during their time with us. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and grateful.

    You can imagine my confusion reading an article with quotes from a former team athlete who competed at North Shore, expressing how disgruntled they are about their experience here.

    It sounds like the athletes are unhappy with the current adversity of change, and have sadly shifted their focus on North Shore, being the entity responsible for some assumed loss of opportunity.

    In all my years at North Shore one of the life lessons we expect the students to walk away with is this…
    Circumstances do not define opportunity. I only hope that during this change in circumstance the Homestead gymnastics team can learn that the power of opportunity in this situation is where it has always been, in their hands. Their sweat equity. Their decision to enter the gym and leave better than they were when they arrived.

    I feel very good about being able to provide a place for these young ladies to grow as gymnasts and individuals. If you have concerns about the space that they have available I urge you to come and watch a practice from our observation area. Perhaps you will will feel as good about it as we do.

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    Olivia Rossman Reply:

    Yes, I do feel bitter about this situation. I am not blaming you for this at all, and we are very greatful that you have offered us a place. The main problem is that we have been kicked out and North Shore ultimately is not better than practicing at Homestead. I am sorry I did not have the right numbers about the other teams in the space, but it was just very different than we all expected. I had no intention to be rude or ungrateful in any way what so ever to you. If I have learned anything from you, practicing the best you can is very important, and we can only do that where we feel comfortable, which is at Homestead.

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    Mary Liniewski Reply:

    Katie is the club owner along with the title of Events Coordinator. She doesn’t need to personalize Olivias comments because anyone would be bitter if their team got displaced. I’m sure katie is trying to do the best she can to help ease the transition for this year but the fact remains she is being paid by Homestead and she has vested interest in the outcome of this business deal.

    Working out at your high school is such a better environment (among all the previous reasons)on many fronts for these ladies. Whether their classmates pop in to say hi during practice or a teacher looks on fondly as they notice one of their students on the floor dancing her heart out, or maybe the time spent in the training room commiserating with another student athlete from the basketball team on their sport injury, or the ice baths they collectively suffer through together, these are the little things that bond these ladies with their school. This is, among other things, what has been taken away and no club can give this back.

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    Katie Vollrath Reply:

    Mary,
    While I can understand your investment in the Homestead High School Gymnastics program, as the Whitefish Bay Gymnastics Coach, My investment remains the same, offer a service to these “displaced” athletes and teach them the value of overcoming adversity. It is unfair for anyone to misrepresent this institution and frankly, I’m a little saddened to see that this is how you decide to be impactful.
    Cedarburg Grafton has co-opped here for a decade, they still have a program. After reading your initial post I was inclined to ask a few questions about it. I’m not now nor have I ever been involved in seasonal gymnastics, so I suppose I may need to be versed.
    You run a program out of the Whitefish Bay High School. It sounds like it is a source of revenue for the High School due to all the (from what I have heard) great programs that you run there. As you described your program it sounds like you are running a club gymnastics program, at a high school. I suppose that puts you in a different position than most of the teams you compete against in the North Shore division. I’m failing to understand if your expectation of an athletic director unaffiliated with your school, mind you, Is that he builds a club gymnastics program to run out of his high school?
    No disrespect ma’am, I don’t know you and have never met you, but if we are going to start having a conversation about motivation, I guess I am still scratching my head, about your involvement.

    Katie Vollrath Reply:

    Thanks for clarification on this. I have requested that the editor put in the true facts about what is going on it’s far as programming is concerned, so that North Shore is not cast in a bad light, regarding its services to the community.

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  3. Mary Liniewski on January 9th, 2018 10:38 am

    I have been a gymnastics coach for Whitefish Bay in the North Shore conference for the past 25 years to date. I feel compelled to take this opportunity to break down the AD’s points to give the readers a greater perspective as to what has been going on.

    First, Erik’s point that they were moved off site to offer them acess to pits etc that high schools don’t have is inaccurate. Homestead has utilized the pit at Whitefish Bay this season and can go to ANY area club For open gyms to utilize their equipment and have done so in the past. These athletes can also book private lessons if they so desire to utilize this equipment as well. Therefore it is NOT necessary to have student athletes train all season at club. What he is not telling you is what they have to now give up.

    Usually by Early to mid January skill development is now minimal and therefore the pit and like equipment are no longer utilized. Athletes now begin phase two of training where they work on perfecting the skills they have learned. What the athletes need are reps. They do lots of routines! Sharing a club facility with a rival team in the conference, as well as the dozens of club athletes that attend classes , does not allow for this like it would at Homestead. At Homestead they have 2 beams, floor, bars and vault. 5 pieces of equipment plus mats for drill stations. This allows the varisty 2 events and JV 2 events minimum to practice their routines. They will NOT get that much equipment in club, period. They usually get one or two events max. Furthermore, practice time was cut, practice is now earlier and they have to travel. They have no access at the gym to get taped for a specific event or God forbid if they should get hurt. No Friday practice but an Hour and a half on Saturdays? Did he not think ahead that tourneys are on Saturday’s so they can’t practice the day before. Luckily it was brought to his attention recently and he is working on that.

    So if Erich were concerned about the Growth of the athletes, his argument doesn’t support that. The best way would keep them at Homestead and go to club for the handful of athletes on the handful of times they may need the pit. You certainly would NOT send them the second half of the season either. Besides, most high level gymnasts train off season at area gyms so they get to use that equipment the other 8 months of the year! That’s when they generally work newer, bigger skills.

    Secondly, the point that the gyms are needed for “PE first…. and all kind of Rec activities, band….” is not telling the whole truth. If that were the case why is theirs room for basketball but not gymnastics?

    Since when have Rec activities taken precedence over high school sports? Can you imagine some club dance team wanting to rent the football field in the midst of football season and so the football team has to practice elsewhere ??Erik as an AD should be livid at the notion that Rec would get facility usage before HIS student athletes. Rec basketball has displaced our gymnastics team or whatever they choose to put in there. It is outrageous that we as taxpayers are allowing some athletes that don’t even reside in Mequon (Rec is open to All kids, from All communities)priority over our children. And for what? Money? When the gymnastics team was in the auxiliary gym, what activities needed to get in there? Couldn’t Gym class fit in the other 2 gyms? They managed the past 30 plus years!

    At Bay, the gymnastics equipment stays up year round! Gym class does yoga, Pilates, mat ball, a gymnastics unit on the gymnastics floor. The adaptive PE kids love it in the gym! Also, why is it Bay can get 5-6 high school basketball teams (girls and boys, freshman,JV and varsity) in just the fieldhouse but Homestead needs 3 gyms! At Bay, the coaches, faculty and the administration all work together to come up with a workable fair schedule. Why doesn’t Homestead?

    Since when, whether you support the sport of gymnastics or not, do we suddenly not have room for these student athletes in a school This size?
    And might I add, a school that is shrinking in numbers.

    Gymnastics has been at Homestead since the mid 70’s when boys gymnastics began. Girls gymnastics at Homestead has probably been there since the 80’s for sure. There has always been a strong
    tradition of excellence in the sport of gymnastics at Homestead.

    To date, every high school program that moves their athletes to a gym club ends up being a co op. They start by having meets still at their school but within a couple years the equipment is sold and no more home meets(Erik told the parents last year he wanted to sell the equipment). Kids stop coming out because it’s more trouble than it’s worth so they stay in club. ADs are now off the hook on the purchase of equipment etc and they get to now split the costs of officials, coaches, gym fees among the other schools. Looks like a win win for the ADs but a serious loss to the kids who just want to be part of their own high school team. A team that has currently has numbers and will grow given the right environment with the support of the Athletic department.

    This idea of going to club was delivered with some
    fakse pretenses and the coaches, because of their youth and inexperience , went along with it. With the exception of maybe one parent , the remaining parents wanted the sport to stay at the high school because they know the direction this sport is now heading.

    The argument was made that golf and hockey are off site. Well, I’m pretty certain no one has a golf course on campus and maybe a few high school have a hockey rink(Arrowhead come to mind). Therefore, the athletes really have no other choice if they want to be part of that sport.

    Yes, Erik was correct on one point. The gym is an educational space. But I feel he has forgotten all the learning that happens each day these student athletes bust their bottoms to be part of something bigger than themselves. The connection they feel to THEIR school when working out in it. Wasn’t Homestead quoted as saying that the more connected a student is to their school the more they will succeed academically?

    What is one left to think…..

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  4. Sandi Tracy on January 9th, 2018 2:57 pm

    Katie, I for one was not condemning Northshore what so ever. My disappointment lies with the decisions being made by the AD and HHS. Homestead has the equipment and the space to keep practices at the school. My comment was directed towards the school not Northshore. I’m sure the girls are thankful that they have a place to work out and are grateful that you stepped up and offered your gym. The issue again is the politics taking place at the high school.

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    Katie Vollrath Reply:

    Oh Sandy!! Thanks for that!!

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  5. Nicole Artz on January 9th, 2018 7:50 pm

    As a former gymnast at North Shore and recently retired gymnast from the University of Michigan I am disappointed in this article saying negative things about a gym that has been my home for over 15 years. You can’t tell me you can find a better facility to practice in than North Shore, more accommodating and friendly people than at North Shore, and an overall better environment than North Shore where there is an excellence placed on team building, growth, and personal decelopment as an athlete and as a person. I am disappointed that someone would talk so negatively about a place that is providing you with a safe space where you have an endless amount of resources and equipment to use, most of which you will never see anywhere else. Choose to be grateful, appreciative, and respectful of the opportunity to be able to practice at north shore and more importantly for the sport of gymnastics. Who cares if you are practicing in the same building as your high school competition, at the end of the day it is a sport full of respectful competition where each individal shows her talents. They aren’t going to steal your plays or find out your secrets. Show some gratitude that you have the opportunity to use the same space as them, as you will not find something better, anywhere.

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  6. Katie Vollrath on January 12th, 2018 12:01 am

    Mary,
    I hope you read this…I had the opportunity today to go out in the gym and speak with Olivia, and with your Neice, Paige. Each on opposing teams, practicing at North Shore. As I approached each of them, I could see their discomfort. I hugged Olivia and told her, I know how hard this has been for her…she was shaken and relieved, that I wasn’t upset or angry. She apologized that she had misrepresented the situation. As I spoke with Paige, the words came out of my mouth, “you will always have a home here…” I’ve known her since she was young, and at that moment it occurred to me. My last post, directed at you, was not a part of a solution. I know from this sport that anything that is not a part of the solution is in fact, a problem. That is completely the wrong approach and I take ownership of it. I’m apologizing for not taking a minute to walk a mile in your moccasins and watch this sport fizzle in high schools over many years. I’m sure it has been a slow fade. My largest regret is that I myself was caught up in the emotion of those involved., primarily because I thought it had was a reflection on us. I spoke to Paige and the best I could offer was perhaps to host something for the girls at our gym, a meet, a fundraiser or something that could bolster their program and ultimately their participation. If they were able to take some ownership in whatever may happen, perhaps they’d grow stronger together, working for something that could strengthen the gymnastics program at their school. I understood your cynicism but conflict breeds change and North Shore is a willing participant.

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