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    Nov. 30, 2010

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    Talented Group Looks to Make Their Mark

    It is a unique situation that we find ourselves in this year. We are going into this season with a team that is returning every competitor from last year. Even if the results of last year was not up to the standard that we have set in the past and the expectations that we had, this group of competitors garnered important experience that will make them that much stronger this year. To add to this we have a group of 5 freshman. Unfortunately 3 of them are recovering from injuries from last year, but the other two come to us with impressive gymnastics resumes as they both were selected to represent Canada in the Commonwealth Games. This means that we are deeper in talent on all 4 events and this often proves to be very important as you go through a grueling season. So below is this years team at the Fireman’s fountain fittingly the site for this years Flames Team’s Photo shoot on a sunny October afternoon.

    Meet the Newcomers on this Year’s Flames Squad

    Coming to UIC from the Chicago club Skyline and a former UIC Camper is Kim Randall. She is a powerful vaulter and tumbler with strong skills on beam as well. Having to start out her college career with ACL surgery was not how Kim planned it but she is working hard to return to gymnastics as soon as possible. From the South Suburbs Danielle Reusnow is joing us from Gym-Kinetics where she was the team mate of last year’s freshman Erin and Chantel. Dani is at the tail end of rehab and is coming along very stromg on bars where she has a great routine in the making and as the knee gets stronger we look at her returning to action on the other events as well. Lastly Allison Pipp is joining us from Phenom in the Western Suburbs and she has just been released from elbow surgery. Allie is an exciting tumbler ad powerful bar worker that is starting to get back to her former self after a long road of recovery.

    International Freshman

    This year we are also fortunate to have 2 freshman that come to us from across the Northern Border. Two French Canadians one from the Montreal area and Gym-Richelieu, Cynthia Lemieux Guillemette and Catherine Dion from the Ottowa area and Gymelites, the same club that former UIC stand outs Jennifer O’Neil, Veronique Meunier and Regine Charron trained at. They arrived ready to compete as they had just been selected to the Canadian National Team. So we proudly followed our newest Flames as they competed in the Commonwealth Games in New Delhi India. They both brought home several medals as the Canadian team finished in 3rd place. Catherine (K2) also made the event finals on beam where she placed 5th. Cynthia made the all-around finals placing 8th as well as winning bronze medals on beam and bars. Both of these athletes will be able to provide a real spark on all 4 events this year.

    The Returnees

    We have a sophomore class that got a lot of competitive experience last year that is led by Chantel Turk who qualified to NCAA Regionals on vault in her Freshman year after barely missing qualifying as an All-Arounder. Erin Duggan came a long way on bars and beam last year and has continued this progress this fall as she was one of the first ones to consistently starting to hit her sets. Emily Lawrence had a strong start last year on all four events but due to a meniscus injury her season was cut short. All that does seem in the past as she getting all 4 events ready again. Christina Gonzalez who competed vault for us last year is looking to add some events to her arsenal while dealing with a sore back. The Juniors are led by this years co-captains Rachel Montoya and Andie Skala, both qualified to NCAA Regionals as All- Arounders last year and are looking to lead the entire team back there this year. The Junior class is rounded out by Jamie Krause that finished off last season on a high, hitting her best set of the season on bars at the Conference Championship. The Seniors are starting their last campaign with some unfinished business as they want to bring their team to the NCAA Regionals. 

    Activities During the Fall

    The fall is a lot of hard work and also a time when we try to find some time to both help out in the community as well as having some fun. Starting off the year we helped out at the Chicago Triathlons, as marshals on the bike course for the kids one day and then running a water station during the main event. It is hard work and early mornings. We got to see the sun rise on both mornings. We did also have a chance to have some fun and relax as the Saturday afternoon was spent on Foster Avenue Beach. Grilling, tanning, swimming and some fun games and races made for a great team building afternoon. The team also got together around Halloween when the captains had planned a surprise pumpkin decorating night that brought out the best creative minds.

    This Year’s Season

    After the mixed pairs meet on Dec. 5, the Flames will spend the first four out of five weekends on the road. Two of those meets will be at NCAA powerhouses Michigan and Arizona. The Wolverines concluded last season sixth in the nation while the Wildcats ended the year 21st. Highlighting this year’s slate includes a home dual-meet with Arkansas. The Razorbacks finished off the 2009-10 season ranked ninth in the country after placing fifth in the NCAA Championship Session II Semifinal in Gainesville, Fla. We have a couple of other exciting home competitions as well. We are working closely with the Chicago Park District for the meet vs. Western Michigan on Jan 17th , we are bringing kids to campus on Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday for activities as well as recognition of what he stood for. Our homecoming this year is on Friday, the 11th of February when Ball State is coming to town. There will be the usual presentation in the beginning of the meet and a hospitality for alumni during the meet. This year’s conference meet will be held in Cape Girardeau, Mo. on March 19 hosted by Southeast Missouri, where this group is looking to get back to the top.

    Fundraising Campaign

    We are also excited that a Group of Alumni led by Caryn Sanders Marcus and Laura Jungels really took on a leadership role to help us improve our fundraising efforts. A main reason for this is the fact that last year our scholarship budget was drastically decreased and we will have to do more of this to make sure that we can continue to bring The UIC Flames experience to young aspiring gymnasts out there. So if you have received a letter or a phone call to help out, we hope that you will do what you can. Any amount is welcome and we are grateful for your contributions. At this time I also want to thank all the people that already have stepped up to help out.