Friday night marks the final home meet of the season for the UNH gymnastics team and the last home meet of their career for the four Wildcat seniors. The Wildcats host the University of Maryland at 7:30 p.m. for Senior Night.
Injuries have forced the Wildcats to rely on their large freshmen class, which has filled as many as 10 of the team’s 24 routines during meets this season. UNH head coach Gail Goodspeed said that the senior class has played an enormous role in helping the freshmen quickly acclimate to the team nature of collegiate gymnastics, allowing the team to remain competitive with the young roster.
“It sometimes gets very difficult with seniors as captains when they’re off campus and the freshmen are in the dorms, but they’ve made a major effort,” Goodspeed said of her senior captains, Kelsey Aucoin and Lauren Brodie, who have organized weekly team dinners and gotten the team involved in a number of charity events.
Each of the four seniors serves as a role model for the younger athletes on the team, according to Goodspeed, though each in her own way.
Aucoin has been one of the team’s top competitors in the floor routine and is working hard to get healthy to compete on vault, one of the team’s weaknesses. But she’s been a staple on the balance beam, where the team is ranked No. 5 in the country, and is currently tied as the No. 12 gymnast in the NCAA on the apparatus.
“Kelsey has the classy, pretty lines and a fun-to-watch floor routine as well as beam routine,” Goodspeed said. The Texas native has battled injuries during her time as a Wildcat, but Goodspeed said that she’s optimistic that Aucoin can help lead the team into the championship season as it tries to qualify for the NCAA Regional and Championship meets.
Brodie, the team’s other captain, has also been severely limited by injury. Last season Brodie competed on floor and this year, she logged two scores on the uneven bars before back pain forced her out of the lineup. Goodspeed said that Brodie has been working hard to return on bars, but admitted that the process has been frustrating at times for her senior captain.
While she’s been unable to compete, Brodie has proven herself as an invaluable, albeit unofficial, addition to Goodspeed’s coaching staff, helping with judging inquiries and getting athletes prepared for their routines. She’s also been integral in helping the freshmen and has become someone that they can turn to.
“I think that even though Lauren is not competing herself, she is there for [the freshmen] in terms of helping them transition,” Goodspeed said, emphasizing the individual nature of club gymnastics compared to the team-first mentality of college gymnastics.
Catarina Broccoli is another of the team’s seniors and has been helpful on beam and on floor for the Wildcats this season, helping the team compile its Regional Qualifying Score (RQS) that puts them fifth in the country on beam and No. 29 in the country overall.
“Cat is just really pretty clean,” Goodspeed said. “When she hits routines, she’s a 9.800-plus.”
Goodspeed said that Broccoli has the skill to be one of the team’s top performers on both events and has been working hard on her own to gain the confidence to nail her floor routine every time she competes.
“The last home meet, she didn’t make her last tumbling pass,” Goodspeed said. “But the rest of the routine was beautiful, I didn’t have a deduction…pointed toes, straight legs. Her execution is among the best on our team.”
The team’s final senior is Cassy Izzo, a walk on who drew praise from her coach for her hard work and dedication to the sport.
“Someone that, basically her sophomore year, could have stopped doing gymnastics. Decided she loved it, wanted to keep going and just has a great work ethic and makes sure she does the entire workout every day,” Goodspeed said.
Izzo had an opportunity to compete as an exhibition performer at times last year. When the injuries started piling up for the ‘Cats, Izzo’s hard work helped her achieve success in the floor lineup.
Izzo is a biology major studying for the MCAT in the hopes of becoming a doctor, but hasn’t let her time consuming major detract from the time she spends in the gym working to get better.
“Cassy more than anyone shows the work ethic in the gym,” Goodspeed said when asked how the seniors have acted as role models for their younger teammates.
The Wildcats will also be honoring UNH faculty in a pre-meet ceremony before battling the Terrapins. The meet begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Lundholm Gymnasium, and Goodspeed is encouraging UNH students to show their support for the Wildcat seniors as they begin to close out their gymnastics careers. The team is giving 100 free ski passes to the first 100 UNH students to arrive on Friday night.

Executive Editor