Gymnastic club’s a flipping success

While many relished summer activities like going on vacations to the beach or abroad, Sarah Kachovec had other plans — starting a club gymnastics team at UK.

Kachovec, an international studies and Spanish freshman, started competing in gymnastics beginning when she was three years old and continued into high school. She wanted to continue at UK by creating a club team.

UK’s club gymnastics team is in its first year thanks to the efforts of Kachovec and five other gymnasts. Kachovec stirred up interest for the club over the Internet, and the team has worked together to get the things they need to be competitive in their first year.

“I did a little recruiting on Facebook,” Kachovec said. “I would see who had an interest in gymnastics and I would send them a message and invite them to join groups. To raise money for the team we would run gymnastics clinics for younger girls and we would sell T-shirts.”

Being a self-funded team with little time to practice, the club squad had to dig deep within themselves to be as successful as they have been — finishing third out of 10 teams in their first meet on Jan. 19 and fifth out of 17 teams in the following meet on Feb. 2.

The team practices four times a week, twice at the Seaton Center and twice at Lexington Gymnastics and Cheerleading Center.

Gymnastics practices normally last around three and a half hours but the UK club gymnastics team usually gets about an hour and a half because of the lack of gym space.

“We had to go through a lot of people to get gym space,” said Amanda Hizer, an agricultural biotechnology senior. “The Seaton Center is more of the cheerleading domain and there are also a lot of kinesiology classes that use space in the Seaton Center. We, ourselves, pay to get time at the Lexington Gymnastics and Cheerleading Center.”

Hizer has been another member instrumental in forming the team. Kachovec recruited Hizer through Facebook, and together they have worked every step of the way because of their similar background in gymnastics and vision for the team.

“We wanted to be competitive going into this,” she said. “We had no idea what we were going up against, we just wanted to stay competitive and spark some interest.”

Kachovec agreed, saying the team’s self-motivation has been one of the most important aspects since they don’t have a coach.

“The team aspect is such a big part,” Kachovec said. “You have others cheering you on and asking others what you’re doing wrong. Everyone has done something with this team.”

Because the team is self-funded, there is only one way to travel from meet to meet — carpooling. There are no other club gymnastics teams in Kentucky. The team travels to Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and as far north as Michigan.

Through it all, Kachovec and Hizer hold their heads high knowing they have started something original at UK, and have laid the groundwork for club gymnastics for future generations at the university.

“I am proud to be a member of the first team here,” Hizer said. “This team has made my college experience so much better. I’m an athlete and it killed me not to compete.”

Kachovec agreed, saying she originally only hoped two or three girls would join instead of the six that are on the team now.

“Our first meet we were very competitive and we just want to keep going,” Kachovec said. “I look forward to the end of each day where I get the opportunity to hang out with my best friends at practice. We work so hard because we’re so passionate about it all.”

Anyone interested in joining the club gymnastics team can contact Kachovec through the club’s Facebook group, Future UK Club Gymnast.