In a sport that’s decided by mere fractions of a point, consistency is key. And one constant in the weekly East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) awards this season has been UNH freshman gymnast Danielle Doolin.
Doolin, a freshman from Medford Lakes, New Jersey, has earned the conference’s Rookie of the Week award five times in seven weeks this season, and has been relied upon by UNH in a year marred by injury.
“First meet of the season, she had the freshman jitters and didn’t hit the floor set that she’s hit the rest of the year,” UNH head coach Gail Goodspeed said. But since then, Doolin has been one of the team’s key competitors, and its only consistent all-around competitor.
“To compete all-around in college is definitely more taxing on your body [than club gymnastics] so it’s harder to be competing every weekend,” Doolin said, commenting on the adjustment from club gymnastics to college.
According to Goodspeed, the transition from club to college is something that many young athletes struggle with. Club gymnastics is an individual sport; in college gymnastics, the focus is on the team. The adjustment period takes time.
Injuries forced the team to start relying on its nine-member freshman class early, but Doolin has responded well to the challenge. She’s taken over as the opening routine on beam, the team’s best event, and on floor, she serves as the anchor at the end of the rotation.
“I would say, almost in any meet, the first beam routine is probably the most important routine of the meet to get that trust and confidence and get rolling,” Goodspeed said. “And we’ve placed that kind of responsibility on a freshman, which is pretty unusual, very honestly.”
Doolin has earned the responsibility, turning in consistently solid performances for the Wildcats’ No. 7 in the country beam team. In all but one meet this season, the freshman has scored a 9.700 or higher in her routine, topping out at 9.825.
Doolin’s consistency and value to the team are not lost on her teammates, either.
“It’s a great feeling for us to know we have that confidence in her and she has the confidence in herself to hit a set every weekend,” senior captain Kelsey Aucoin said. “It really helps out the team, especially since she starts us off on beam, which is huge, gets the momentum going, and ends us on floor with a great routine.”
Serving as the anchor on floor comes with responsibilities of its own. While the opener tries to build momentum, the closing routine has to hit a high score to make up for any faulty routines in the lineup. It’s a position reserved for a team’s consistent high scorer.
“She’s probably our top floor worker,” Goodspeed said. In 10 meets this season, Doolin has recorded a 9.825 or more seven times, with a career-best mark of 9.850 that she’s hit six times.
Aucoin described her floor routine as “exciting to watch,” but Doolin hasn’t even begun to compete some of her hardest skills, according to Goodspeed.
“She actually has even higher-level skills that we haven’t put on the floor yet,” Goodspeed said, noting that, despite that fact, Doolin has the hardest tumbling passes on the team on floor. “She does a double Arabian on floor as well. We’re not going to do that this season, we needed to get her solid and consistent.”
Doolin has already impressed in competition this season, and with three full years—plus the remainder of this season—still to go, her potential is an exciting prospect for a program that is consistently amongst the nation’s best.
Doolin and the Wildcats still have time to show off, with at least two meets remaining on the schedule. On Friday, the ‘Cats travel to Denton, Texas for a showdown with the Texas Woman’s University Pioneers, Louisiana State University Tigers and the Oregon State University Beavers at 7 p.m.
Over the spring break, UNH will prep for the EAGL Championships, hosted by Pittsburgh University on March 19. The two meets will give UNH an opportunity to improve its Regional Qualifying Score to make a run at the NCAA Regional Championships.
Doolin’s goals for the end of the season are simpler.
“As a team, I want all of us to hit 24 for 24 [routines],” she said. “Individually I’d like to hit four for four at EAGLs, and [the team] make it to Regionals, hit all our routines, and just do the best we can.”

Executive Editor