Sacramento State

Sacramento State’s Dream of Having Its Own Practice Facility Will Soon Become a Reality

Sacramento State is one of the only DI gymnastics teams without its own training facility.  The team must travel at least 30 minutes each way to a local club gym. In addition to reducing practice time, the team must coordinate its schedule around club and recreational gymnasts.

Because of this, junior Anna LeRoy has had a difficult time scheduling classes that are required for her major. “The biggest challenge that comes with not having our own facility is the lack of flexibility in our class schedules. Elevate has strict times that make it difficult to cultivate a class schedule that allows us to explore our interests academically while making sure that we are getting all of our hours in the gym.”

It’s even difficult to schedule time to eat and fuel up before practice. According to freshman Grace Gilman, “Since we have to meet at the vans at 12 and my classes end at 11:45, I do not have time to grab food until we get back onto campus, which is sometimes around 4:30.”

That is all about to change. 

Sacramento State is in the final stages of construction on a dedicated practice facility within walking distance of campus and with a target completion of fall 2022. Head coach Randy Solorio explains, “The new training facility will completely transform the student-athlete experience. With only three and a half hours of allowable training time permitted each day, the travel time dramatically cuts into the team’s practice time. The new facility will be a five-minute drive from campus and will give the team an hour more of training each day. It will also allow the student-athletes to have more flexibility for balancing their academics and training schedules. Additionally, the new facility will be a huge recruiting tool and allow the team to host camps for the first time in program history.” 

The coaches and a few of the athletes had the opportunity recently to tour the space and are excited with what they saw.

The facility appears to be well worth the wait, with the design intended to provide a full college experience. In addition to world-class equipment, including two vault runways, multiple open pits and soft resi landings, the facility will also have a study lounge, locker room, showers and a kitchen. “What’s a coach without a cup of coffee?” Solorio said.

The team is particularly excited about the viewing room. According to sophomore Simone Dumas-Guzman, “I am extremely excited for the planned viewing room in the new facility. This room will have a nice big TV for us to recap our meets and pinpoint specific areas we need to improve on for the next meet. Right now we have iPad recordings for all of our individual routines. This works well, but sitting down as a whole team to analyze our performance will greatly increase our competitive edge.” 

Gilman also believes the facility will even help with team spirit and morale. “I am excited to have our own facility because I think it will help make the environment more positive and supportive. Since we are in our own gym, we can be as loud and cheer as much as we want, which will be helpful in feeling more like a collegiate gymnastics team.”

The team’s challenges in finding training opportunities during COVID make it particularly appreciative of having its own space. Sac State’s inconsistent access to training facilities in 2020 and 2021 was the main reason the team was unable to compete during the 2021 season. Although the university generously donated space on campus, the practice space was little more than a gymnasium with some mats. The team was without pits or soft landings. The vault runway started outside the room and was not long enough for many of the athletes. Redshirt freshman Emma Morgenthaler recalls, “We started in a closet, and I had to cut my run down by 9 feet, so I wasn’t able to flip my vault for a year.”

With so much to look forward to, spirits are high in Sacramento. Sac State just sent two athletes to NCAA regionals. Senior Amber Koeth posted the second-best NQS in school history on beam with a 9.880. Koeth scored 9.900 three times during the year, including at the MPSF championship. Morgenthaler, despite not being able to train vault for a year, rebounded with an NQS of 9.860, which places her fourth in program history. She scored 9.900 twice during the season.

The team is now happy and proud to have a place it can call its own. Says LeRoy, “There is nothing like tumbling on a green and gold floor, so that will definitely be the very first thing I do.” Koeth agrees that it will be special to have a space dedicated to them. “We don’t have to put a tiny little banner in the corner of the gym.” 

Although the new practice facility is fulfilling a dream Solorio has had for his 37 years at the university, some challenges remain. “We were lucky to find an existing building close to campus and didn’t have to do a new build. Additionally, we were fortunate to have the backing of our campus to purchase the building for our program. Because the campus purchased the building, we are solely responsible for outfitting the new facility with equipment, athletic training and team lounge,” Solorio said.

The team is preparing for a fundraising blitz during GiveSacState Day on April 22 and 23. Despite the work ahead, the team is grateful for the progress and feels fortunate to get this new start in a shiny new practice space dedicated solely to the Sac State gymnasts and its hard work.

*If you would like to help support the Sac State gymnastics program, please consider donating here.

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Article by Jen Dumas

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