Woodstock gymnasts share family secrets
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Woodstock - posted Mon., Mar. 11, 2013
Woodstock Academy seniors Shaila Segal, Emily Lipka and Allison Rich ended their high school careers on a high note this past Saturday, as they helped the Centaurs to a second-place finish (145.625) at the New England championships. A team from Barnstable, Mass., edged out the Centaurs by just .25 points to take the first place finish.
In the last three years, the Centaurs have been state champions three times, state open champions twice, New England champions once and New England runner-up once. It's an impressive record for a small team that shares its coach with other teams in the area.
The ReminderNews spoke with some of the team members before the March 9 meet to learn about the lessons and strategies they've learned over the years to bring WA to the top of its class.
All of the players talked about the mental toughness coach Robin Deary-Fillmore and her daughter, assistant coach Kasey Fillmore, have stressed in practices. Junior Bree Hussong said they prepared them with pressure sets, putting them in situations similar to actual meets. “They'd make everyone in the gym stop to watch,” Hussong said. The result was a confidence-booster.
So was talking the athletes through things. “They'll sit down and talk with us if we're having a bad day,” Rich said. They make sure we feel comfortable going on to our event. She tells us to be confident. They know we can do it, and if they know, we know we can do it.”
Practice is the bedrock foundation. All the Centaurs practice their routines over and over. They visualize them before their events. Hussong will practice her beam routine on the floor if there's space available at the meets. Junior Courtney Osborn will visualize her Yurchenko vault before she's called to perform it. Senior Shaila Segal will go to the chalk box and go through her bars routine before performing it. “Gymnastics is such a mental game,” Segal said. “There's a lot of fear in gymnastics. You have to be there mentally.”
Besides the practice, the mental preparation and the self-discipline involved, the Centaurs share a history of growing up together. They know each other from when they were very young. Rich started when she was 5 years old, Segal and Osborn when they were 3. Most of the team members have been practicing and competing together since elementary school. “We've been really good friends,” Rich said. “We know how to push each other in a positive way.”
And Deary-Fillmore has been overseeing that growth and development. “She's like a second mom,” said Osborn. “She's taught me everything."
Hussong agreed. “She's the best,” she said.
Osborn and Hussong will return next season to pick up where they left off. Graduates Segal, Rich and Lipka will mostly return to visit. “You wouldn't believe how many come back to visit,” said the coach. “I get to see them compete in college. They bring their kids back. It's like a family.”