Samantha LeMire is a one-woman gymnastics team

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
East Haddam - posted Tue., Feb. 15, 2011
Samantha LeMire at a competition last year. Contributed photo. - Contributed Photo

In the world of high school gymnastics, Samantha LeMire is known as a “Team of One.”

“I’ve been in Connecticut for 14 years,” said LeMire’s coach, Maureen Pokorny. “I’ve never heard of another one at Hale-Ray.” So for the first time, Nathan Hale-Ray High School has a gymnastics team, and LeMire is it.

There are a number of other schools state-wide which do not have enough gymnasts (four) to make up an official team. These athletes, who usually compete year-round with a private club team, aren’t eligible for team scores in high school competitions. But they earn scores on an individual basis, and LeMire is currently looking like she will qualify to compete at the state level in all four events (bars, beam, floor, and vault). Her last meet of the regular high school season was scheduled for Feb. 17. “They said that the scores should be available on the Casciac website by this weekend,” said Pokorny.

At the age of 15, LeMire is a freshman, so this is her first year of high school competition. But she has been doing gymnastics since the age of 3, and is currently competing at Level 9 in USA Gymnastics competitions. “Private club gymnastics starts at level 4, and goes through level 10,” explained Pokorny.

To get to this level of competition, LeMire has had to dedicate herself to the sport. “She tried other things,” said Pokorny. “She did theater for a while, and cheerleading. But she found that she really had to focus intensely to advance in gymnastics. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the sport.”

“I practice four days a week, for three-and-a-half hours a day,” said LeMire. “I get Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays off.” She practices at Shoreline Gymnastics in Old Lyme, which also serves as home facility to a number of other “teams of one” as well as conventional high school teams. “We have gymnasts from Valley Regional, Lyme, Old Lyme, Haddam/Killingworth and Waterford right now,” said Pokorny. At high school meets, LeMire competes against the other Shoreline gymnasts. “They’re all friends,” said Pokorny. “When they’re at USA meets, they compete as a team with each other.”

LeMire still has some time left before she has to make college plans, but she has given it some thought. “I wanted to go to UConn, but they don’t have a team,” she said. “They have a club team. I’m thinking of a Division III school. It really all depends on which college has what I want to do.”

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