From a small high school in Florida where there was no gymnastics team and a large school in Illinois where gymnastics was popular, two seniors on the team have come a long way.
Cierra Tomson and Jenny Covers have competed for four years at Minnesota and continue to be leaders for the young team.
“It’s an incredible accomplishment for both of them. We have seen so many people get injured or not be able to last all four years with their body and their passion,” junior Lindsay Mable said.
Tomson came from a small Christian academy in Jacksonville, Fla., where she became the first person from her school to receive an athletic scholarship.
“It’s cool to be the first one, but after I left, some other students realized that they could achieve that, too. It feels good to help people realize that,” Tomson said.
Covers came from a large high school in Illinois, where she competed in school and club gymnastics.
“High school gymnastics is a good entry point that not many girls do, and I’m proud that I was a part of it,” Covers said.
As the only seniors on the team, they have stepped up to fill leadership roles and mentor the younger gymnasts.
“They try to be there for anybody in any way they can, both in the gym and out,” Mable said.
The leadership didn’t just appear this year out of thin air — it’s something they have developed over time.
“They have really grown throughout the year. They have started to take [the younger girls] under their wing, and they have started to pass along the traditions that we hold,” interim head coach Jenny Hansen said.
This weekend will be the seniors’ last regular season meet at home, and the team will honor them when the competition ends.
“I’m excited. I’m ready to move on to the next chapter of my life,” Covers said. “It’s time to move on and enjoy my adult life and start my career.”
Covers already has a job with Target lined up, where she will be trained and placed based on her strengths. She’s thinking about a side job as well.
“I want to get into coaching, some high school gymnastics [position] because I think it’s important to continue the high school level,” Covers said.
Tomson has been interviewing for a financial analyst job, as she’ll graduate with a degree in finance from the Carlson School of Management this spring.
“I want a job that I am passionate about, and that job will be about helping others,” Tomson said.
Although Covers and Tomson will be leaving the team this year, their impact will last beyond the season.
“Tomson and Covers’ legacies will carry on, and people will want to replicate them,” Mable said. “It’s really cool to see them start that trend.”