Kendrick Kippettes gymnasts, Zoe Singer, Level 9, and Hazel Miller, Level 8, are saying goodbye to Kendrick Recreation Center this year after qualifying for, and competing at their respective USAG Regional Championship competitions.
Having started their gymnastics careers at Kendrick Recreation Center in 2005, Singer in a Beginner Gymnastics Class with coaches Saranne Miller and Janette Mancini, and Miller in a Tot-Rec Class with coach Christine Nast, both girls have devoted twelve consecutive years to the sport of gymnastics, but also to the close-knit “Kendrick Family” that they have forged for more than a decade.
Singer, a senior at Arch Bishop Carroll High School, is marked as the first USAG Level 9 gymnast out of Kendrick Recreation Center to have qualified for a Regional competition. Singer, who achieved personal season-high scores at the Level 9 Pennsylvania State Championship meet, was also recognized as a 2017 Pennsylvania State Championship medalist on floor exercise, and was honored as a graduating senior in the sport of gymnastics.
“Zoe is the exact definition of a champion,” head coach and program owner, Janette Mancini, explains. “She believes that anything is possible if you want it bad enough, and if you’re willing to work hard for it.”
Mancini believes that Singer’s success in the sport of gymnastics will follow her out of the gym and into the gymnast’s “life after gymnastics.”
“Zoe has always stayed true to herself and to her dreams,” Mancini adds. “She will mirror this level of excellence in all of her future endeavors.”
Miller, an eighth-grader at Julia R. Masterman School, qualified for the 2017 Region 7 Championships at her Level 8 State meet where she was honored among the top-reigning gymnasts across the state. Miller is acknowledged as the second USAG Level 8 gymnast out of Kendrick Recreation Center to qualify for a post-season Regional Championship competition, with Danielle Skrocki having been the first in 2015.
“Hazel has always worked toward her goals as an athlete,” Mancini commented. “I know she will take that with her wherever she goes.”
Singer, who will be graduating from high school this spring and saying goodbye to life as a competitive USAG gymnast, says she can’t think of a better way to leave the Kendrick program than by paving the way as the first Level 9 Regional Qualifier.
At Miller’s Level 8 State meet in March she had started out strong start on uneven bars, but took a fall on beam, reducing her shot at Regional qualification out of the gate. When she moved onto floor, she suffered further deductions on her dance and acro, limiting her chances even further. As Miller moved onto vault, she calculated the numbers.
“I need 8.05 on vault to qualify,” she had said to head coach, Kathleen Ciesielka.
But Miller’s first run at a Tsukahara vault resulted in a landing that earned her a score of zero.
“That’s a zero,” the judge called out.
“She needed an 8.05 to qualify for Regionals,” head coach, Saranne Miller, recalls. “And she only had one shot to do it.”
On Miller’s second vault, the scoreboard flashed 8.125. Hazel Miller had qualified for Level 8 Regional Championships.
“Hazel has spent this season competing with poise, determination, and balance,” Ciesielka explains. “These are the lessons that remain with the girls in all aspects of their lives.”
Singer’s qualifying State meet was as much of a nail-biter for the Kendrick coaches. She had started out on vault and after a score adjustment inquiry petitioned by Ciesielka during the meet, Singer qualified for Regionals on vault. But she still needed a 9.0 to qualify on floor.
Following Singer’s performance, the scoreboard flashed a 9.10. Zoe Singer was the first Level 9 Regional Qualifier that had come out of Kendrick Recreation Center.
“Zoe is one of the most remarkable athletes I have had the opportunity to coach,” explains Ciesielka. “Her determination and endless love for the sport speaks volumes. She will carry these traits with her to college and into the rest of her life.”
Barbara Singer, Zoe’s mother, knows first-hand the challenges unique to raising a gymnast. She recalls many nights over the past decade in which her daughter came home from practice frustrated or angry that she hadn’t achieved a goal.
“I would always encourage Zoe to try and see the positive side of things,” Mrs. Singer recalls. “I wouldn’t talk to her specifically about what had happened at practice, but I would remind her that she is an awesome person, even when she is frustrated.”
Following high school graduation, Singer will be starting her freshman year at West Chester University in the fall and hopes major in psychology.
“I’m going to miss seeing my teammates and coaches everyday,” Singer says in reflection of her final weeks with the Kippettes. “Going to Kendrick everyday has been a part of my daily routine for a majority of my life. I will miss the comfort of having a place to call my second home.”
Miller, who is also leaving the Kendrick Kippettes gymnastics team due to her family relocating to Central Pennsylvania, will miss the relationships she has cultivated.
“I will miss the memories we have made over the years,” Miller says in regard to leaving Kendrick. “When we all sit around in the gym together, there are so many stories that come up and we laugh so hard remembering all the times we have shared as a team and as a gym family. We’ve celebrated victory and we’ve helped each other through losses. We’ve been there for each other our whole lives. That is going to be hard to leave behind.”
As Miller prepares to say goodbye to a lifetime of adventures, her message to up-and-coming gymnasts is to always respect coaches and fellow gymnasts, but to also have respect for yourself. She adds that a gymnast should never stop pushing herself to succeed, even when the task seems impossible.
As for Singer, her advice to gymnasts is to never give up on a dream. She says even on the bad days, or when everything seems hopeless, be patient with yourself because progress takes time.
In addition to Singer and Miller departing from the Kippettes, Coach Miller, will also be leaving Kendrick this year as well.
“Having Zoe and Hazel qualify for Regional Championships in my final year at Kendrick is the greatest parting gift that a coach could ask for,” Coach Saranne Miller says. “When I leave Kendrick, I will take the memory of every child who has entered my life through this rec center, and I will stand proud to say that my final gymnastics competitions with the Kippettes took place on the floor of Level 8 and Level 9 USAG Regional Championships. It’s an honor that words cannot express.”
As Regional Qualifiers, Singer and Miller compete among top-ranked athletes across Region 7, comprised of Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Virginia, and West Virginia.
On March 31st, Miller attended her 2017 Region 7 Level 8 Championship in Monaca, PA, north of Pittsburgh. Joined and supported by teammates, Leah Pedraza, Renee Caporellie, and Juliana Rossi, Miller hit solid routines and achieved personal Level 8 high scores on balance beam and floor exercise, with a balance beam score that ranked her 19 among 50 competitors across the six-state region.
“Hazel’s performance at Regionals was incredible,” Mancini shares. “She is an extraordinary individual.”
Singer’s Level 9 Regional Championship meet will take place on April 8th near Washington, D.C. where she will once again be acknowledged and honored at the graduating senior ceremony.
“I’m excited and proud to be representing my team in a positive way,” Singer added in reflection of her final competition as a Kendrick Kippettes gymnast.
Singer’s parents were thrilled when she had qualified for Level 9 State Championships, and elated when Singer’s scores at States qualified her for Regionals.
“Seeing Zoe end her career at the Regional level is probably the most rewarding aspect of the past twelve years,” Mrs. Singer says. “Financially supporting a competitive gymnast is daunting. At times, the cost was overwhelming. Having the opportunity to watch my daughter compete at her final meet as one of the most talented athletes in her region makes it worth every cent.”