Bacon Academy gymnast competes as team of one
By Kevin Hotary - Staff Writer
Colchester - posted Mon., Feb. 6, 2012
Bacon Academy sophomore Danielle Mafuid has been a gymnast since she was about 3 years old. Like many athletes reaching high school, she wanted to represent her team in her chosen sport, a sport in which she has achieved at a very high level. However, lacking facilities, a coach and a sufficient number of gymnasts, Bacon Academy - like a number of other schools across the state - does not field a gymnastics team. So Mafuid, showing the determination that has contributed to her success as a gymnast, became a team of one, representing Bacon Academy at meets throughout the area, but traveling and competing alongside the team from RHAM High School.
Teams of one “are for people like me,” said Mafuid as she prepared for an evening of practice at Patti Dunne’s Gymnastics in Hebron, the same club used by a number of RHAM gymnasts. “If you’re a club gymnast and you really want to excel at the sport, and you want a chance to compete for your high school, than you can join onto another school that already has a team. I do everything with the RHAM team,” said Mafuid. The only difference is that she is not competing for, or against, the RHAM team (a team of one does not earn a team score), although she does compete against RHAM girls in individual events “trying to get to the state open,” said Mafuid.
The uneven parallel bars are her top event, although at meets she competes in all events, “because I’m able to,” she said. Last year, as a freshman, she went to the states in bars. “I'm a lot stronger this year,” she said. “This year it’s going really good. My scores have been good and I’ve been improving throughout the season.”
Mafuid is a level 9 gymnast, one of only about 50 in the state, according to her coach, Matt Dunne, who has been working one-on-one with Mafuid for the last three years. “She’s a good kid and she works really hard. She’s done a really nice job climbing through the levels. It’s a very tough sport, and it’s no small thing that she’s a level 9, and she could be a level 10, gymnast,” he said.
“That would be what I’m shooting for,” said Mafuid of reaching level 10, the level of college gymnasts, and just one step below the elite level of Olympic gymnasts. “But I’m not going to be upset if I don’t hit that,” said Mafuid, who also happens to be a top student, taking honors and AP classes. And while she used to also play other sports, with 14 hours of gymnastics work every week, not including time at meets, “gymnastics is the only thing now,” said Mafuid.
While being a team of one may be difficult for some people, Mafuid said that she was treated like a teammate by the RHAM girls. They were all going to a pasta dinner that evening before the next day’s meet.
The closeness of the teammates “makes it fun,” said Stacey Jones, an assistant coach with the RHAM team and coach at Patti Dunne’s.
“They’ve been really welcoming,” said Mafuid. “When we go to a meet, I’m cheering for all of the RHAM girls and hoping that they all do well, and they’re all cheering for me. It feels like we’re all part of the same team; the only difference is the schools we’re competing for.”