Western Hills Makes History With First Varsity Gymnastics Team at CPS

As the dust settles on the inaugural season of the Western Hills High School’s gymnastics team, it’s time to reflect on the impact it had on the school and its students. The launch of the gymnastics program was a significant milestone for the school, and its success exceeded all expectations.

The gymnastics team was the first of its kind in the district and provided an opportunity for students to explore their passion for gymnastics. The team comprised of talented individuals who were dedicated to the sport and committed to representing their school with pride.

The team’s success was a testament to the hard work and dedication of its members, as well as the coaching staff, led by head coach Victoria Oakley and assistant coach Kate Ryder. “Gymnastics is very different from other sports,” said Oakley. “It is a very tight knit community and we knew that we would be incredibly supported by the other teams in our district.”

Gymnastics as a sport has generally catered to predominantly white, middle class neighborhoods. WCPO recently reported on the founding of the first gymnastics team at a historically Black college/university (at Fisk University). The article references the low composition of Black gymnasts on teams (10%), yet the high composition of Black athletes on Olympic and NCAA teams. “While our girls are not quite going to be the next NCAA champions or even the next state qualifiers, it is incredibly important to us that they can see themselves represented in all facets of life,” shared Oakley. “We want them to become role models for the younger girls in the gym. These West High girls, like the Fisk Gymnasts, are doing something that has never been done before.”

Under their coaches’ guidance, the team developed their skills and gained valuable experience that will serve them well in the future. The impact of the sport went far beyond the mat; it brought the school community together, rallying around the team and supporting them every step of the way. It also provided an opportunity for students to develop important values such as discipline, teamwork, and perseverance.

The launch of the gymnastics team was a significant milestone for Western Hills High School, and its success has set a standard for future seasons and schools across the district. The team has laid the groundwork for future generations of gymnasts, inspiring them to pursue their passion for the sport and achieve their goals.

“We want to continue to expand our program,” Oakley shared about the future. “Most of our team this year consisted of freshmen this year, so we are truly excited to see what skills they can gain over the next few years. We would love to see other CPS schools offer gymnastics in their schools as well!”

Coaches Oakley and Ryder also requested support from the community through presence at meets. “If showing up is not possible, we would love for people to follow us on Instagram to watch our journey and spread the word about our team! These girls are incredibly resilient, hard working and brave- they deserve to feel supported and be recognized for their accomplishments.”