Flexible thinking allows Grafton gymnasts to compete

Port’s coach is leading both teams for one season
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

While Port Washington, Grafton and Cedarburg don’t like one another during high school sports, sometimes just being able to compete rises above the rivalry.

Such is the case with the gymnastics teams this season as Port coach Gale Sigler is also coaching the Grafton/Cedarburg team.

The Bullhawks, as Grafton/Cedarburg are called, had been looking for a coach after Siri Bartlein resigned in summer.

Grafton Athletic Director Kevin Moore wasn’t having much luck.

“Gymnastics coaches are at a premium,” Moore said.

Three candidates came forward but each pulled out due to scheduling conflicts.

As the season neared, options became limited. A unique alternative came to light.

“We chose to get a little creative. Gale and her staff were willing to take on that additional program,” Moore said.

“It was a sad situation to me that they weren’t able to find somebody to fill the role and give these kids a chance to compete,” Sigler said.

Fourteen Grafton and Cedarburg students signed up for the team.

“It’s not like they don’t have the support from the athletes to do it,” Sigler said.

Sigler, the Pirates’ coach for the last four seasons, works as an account associate in an accounting office in downtown Port.

“I’m fortunate enough in my job that my boss was supportive to allow the extra time,” she said.

Port Washington Athletic Director Nate Hinze also got on board.

“I think it’s an example of how we can collaborate and cooperate with our North Shore counterparts. It especially speaks to Coach Sigler’s commitment to the young athletes in our communities and her passion for giving them the opportunity to compete,” he said.

Sigler has two assistant coaches. Toni Snook, a former Port gymnast, is in her second year with Sigler. Kaylyn Garant, a former Port gymnast who is taking a gap year from college, will primarily handle the Bullhawks, who practice in Port from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursdays.

The Pirates practice from 4 to 6 p.m. on the same days.

The late coaching hire pushed back the season for the Bullhawks. Twenty practices are required before competition. Their first meet is Tuedsay, Jan. 4, at Homestead, but Sigler said she is planning a practice meet with judges before that to give the team experience.

“The talent pool that Grafton/Cedarburg brings to the table is solid. I’m excited to see where they’re all going to come together,” Sigler said. “They’re really nice kids.”

Moore said not competing this season was not an option.

“The mindset that we had is we’re going to find a way to do this,” he said. “We found something we can do to allow the girls to compete. That’s the most important thing.”

A search for a coach to take over the team next season has started.

For Port, five gymnasts return but Sigler loses senior Liz Ernest, a solid contributor, to early graduation next month. Several freshmen show promise, Sigler said.

Port lost its opener to Hartford on Dec. 8, 133.5 to 115.225. The total exceeds the Pirates’ team high from last season.

On floor exercise, Audrey Dickson had 8.225. Then came Ernest, 7.725; Emma Bollech, 7.35; and Alyana Alexander.

On vault, it was Dickson, 8.35; Bollech, 7.5; Ernest, 7.35; and Sitharah Achakzai, 7.2.

On beam, it was Dickson, 8.275; Ernes, 7.4; Bollech, 7.35; and Alexander.

Dickson had 7.5 on bars.

Port’s next meet is against Whitefish Bay on Wednesday, Jan. 5.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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