Lorraine Galow, Bridgeport hugs a gymnast

A New Era of Bridgeport Gymnastics: Purple Mamba Mentality

Competing at the USAG national championships is exciting, one that not all athletes get the opportunity to experience. Bridgeprot head coach Lorraine Galow has had the privilege of doing so as an athlete and now a coach, leading her team to new heights after so many years of uncertainty at the university. 

In the past four years, there have been major changes made to not only the gymnastics program at the University of Bridgeport, but to the school overall. During COVID, there was talk of shutting down the program all together, the possibility of other colleges buying out the school, and the team being left without a head coach, among other obstacles. That being said, when Galow took over, she was essentially starting from scratch. She put together a new team, recruited new athletes, and took in transfers with the ultimate goal of getting Bridgeport back on the map.

“[My freshman year], we didn’t qualify as a team, but I qualified as an individual,” Galow said. “When we missed out at the first championship, it was very telling that we should have been there as a team. We had the capabilities…and we really thought we could win it.” Fast forward to the following year when Bridgeport won the first of six consecutive titles. To get back to that period of dominance is now a goal of the current squad after so much hardship.

Galow walked in the shoes of the athletes she now coaches and knows what it takes to get back to this level. Since she took over the program, she made it her mission to reshape the culture of the team, to give the athletes an opportunity to live out their dreams, and to find success in doing so.

“I really wanted to make sure as a staff we weren’t just coaching gymnastics, we were working with the person first,” she said. “We [needed] to adapt our coaching to the athlete and not expect the athlete to fit into the mold of what we thought our coaching style was.

Galow has given her athletes a voice on the team, allowing them to express what they need to be successful and push one another to accomplish these goals. Collectively, the team came up with the saying that they have embodied in 2024. Purple Mamba Mentality encompaasses the goals the gymnasts set for themselves and as a whole.

“[We decided our goal this year] was to get a little better each day. We had to take the emotion out of our performance; it doesn’t always have to be so high strung. You can just let yourself and your body do it,” Galow said.

The sentiment comes from Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality,  something Galow has practiced all her life. Flipping the script, living by these words, and competing with joy is something she has emphasized as an athlete and as a coach. And it’s made a different for the team.

In just the past two years, Galow and her staff have had 19 individuals qualify to the championships, but the goal is still to qualify a full team. “[Qualifying individuals] is still something to be proud of…but they know they can do it as a team.” Galow said. “There is so much talent and ability, and the main thing they should take away from it is that everything is already there; they just have to put it together at the same time more often.”

Heading into next season, the team already has its sights set on this goal. “We are better than we performed this year. I told the girls coming back from GECs, the goal moving into next year is ‘I’m not just training to what I think my ability is, I’m training to what my actual ability is and I’m going to believe that’s how good I am.’”

However, Galow knows that doesn’t happen overnight. She knows the team has had a lot to rebound from since COVID transformed the world. There are still things to be proud of along the way. “We started over and it’s hard. We have made this much progress in this short amount of time. We need to be proud of what we did this year. Everything, every piece of us got better.”

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Article by Julianna Roland


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