Girl gymnastics looks to future with new head coach

Hayden Claesson, Reporter

After many years of coaching, including two back-to-back state titles, Katherine Karubas is no longer coaching LT girls gymnastics. After all her success, one might be asking what’s next for the girls gymnastics team.

The answer to this question of who will lead the prestigious girls’ gymnastics team is Darragh McDermott.

“I am lucky to take part in a program with student athletes that work hard and strive to improve each day,” McDermott said.

McDermott had been the coach at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville prior to coaching at LT and was a competitive gymnast growing up. Her coaching style includes a more individualized approach with each gymnast, gymnast Micaleigh Dowling ‘19 said.

“Having a new coach is always going to have new coaching skills,” Dowling Said. “That being said, I like it better because we get more time with just the coach rather than focusing on all of us as a group.”

The team this year is highlighted by a strong group of juniors such as Dowling, Olivia Kalata ‘19, Grace Leonard ‘19, as well as a solid group of freshman in Nicole Brom ’21 and Madeline Gruca ‘21. The team hopes to have a bright future, as only one senior will be graduating this year.

“The freshman aren’t totally used to competing yet,” Dowling said. “But, I think that each and every girl has so much potential and I think they will do amazing in the outcome of every meet if they just have fun with it.”

The team has done well so far this season, especially on Dec. 6, where it tallied its best team score of 130 points against OPRF. That total is just 10 points shy of a team state qualifying score, Dowling said.

“We really want to make it to state as a team this year,” Dowling said.

Qualifying for state seems to be the big goal for this team, but the road isn’t exactly yellow and brick; it takes lots of practice and hard work to see success while competing. To help the team practice better, McDermott is taking steps to make the team as fun as possible for the athletes.

One of the things that has been done to reach this goal is a “Gymnast of the week” page to honor those who have shown the values of the LT gymnastics program such as hard work and determination, McDermott said. McDermott believes that one of the keys to success is for the gymnasts to have a place where they can feel comfortable and confident training.

“My goal for this first season is to build a positive culture in the gym,” McDermott said. “This positive culture and high expectations for practice will translate to the success in how the girls compete.”

January is a big month for the team, as the girls have been competing in several big meets and invites. One of those meets came against Hinsdale Central on Jan. 17, where the Red Devils beat the Lions 137 to 129. They will also be competing in the Fremd and Lake Forest Invites as well. Following these meets, the team will be transitioning into the postseason, starting with the conference meet on Jan. 27.

“We are looking forward using the last few meets to finish the season strong,” McDermott said.