Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

May 9, 2013

Boys gymnastics may land on its feet

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — Boys gymnastics may get a reprieve.

Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association’s board of directors voted to remove boys gymnastics as a recognized varsity sport. They determined that participation in the sport is at an all-time low, with just a few hundred participants statewide, and most of them in the eastern part of the state.

The Andover High School team won the state championship in February, shortly after the MIAA made its decision.

Last week, however, the MIAA, after hearing arguments from several long-time boys gymnastics coaches, voted 7-2 to review its earlier decision. At its meeting on June 6, the board will again take up the matter.

Andover High School coach Steve Sirois said MIAA recognition of the sport is important because it’s “symbolic.”

But he also said that next year’s season would go on as planned, with or without MIAA recognition.

“We will have a team anyway,” he said, adding that boys gymnastics would be a club sport “with varsity recognition” at the local level. Meanwhile, he said, coaches from the other six remaining boys teams have all agreed they would participate in and run their own state tournament, traditionally the role of the MIAA.

Next year, Sirois anticipates having 25 students on the Andover team, with 300 participants statewide.

Paul Wetzel, a spokesman for the MIAA, said the organization welcomes any independent efforts aimed at keeping the sport going.

“The MIAA did not tell any school they could not have a gymnastics team,” Wetzel said. “All we said was we will no longer sponsor the tournament. They can do it themselves.”