Coach Sara Carver-Milne discusses the challenges of gymnastics training during a pandemic


Sara Carver-Milne is in her twentieth season as a Brown gymnastics coach. Under his leadership, the Bears produced 15 NCAA Regional Qualifiers, eight ECAC Championship and All-Around Championship titles, ten USAG National Qualifiers, one USAG National Championship and qualified for the USAG National Team in 2013, 2014 , 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Carver-Milne is also recognized for the exceptional academic results of her team. In 2017, sixteen members from its eighteen-person roster won ECAC All-Academic Honors. In 2018, 2019 and 2020, members of his team were named ECAC Gymnastics Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In the shortened 2020 season, Bruno racked up six CEAC accolades and nine All-Ivy Classic awards. For her dedication to her team on and off the mat, Carver-Milne was shortlisted for this week’s edition of The Herald’s Coach’s Corner.

Herald: How many of your players are on campus this season?

Carver-Milne: Right now we have eight on campus and 22 in total on the roster. … This is the greatest team I have ever had, and this will be my twentieth season.

What led to such a list after all this time?

We have been working on building our roster for years and have been very lucky this year with recruiting. We had a lot of majors who were extremely strong gymnasts. We have eight incoming freshmen this year. They are a very talented, very motivated and very intelligent group. So they are going to contribute a lot to this team.

How did the team stay connected during the hybrid semester?

Our captains this year (Mei Li Costa ’22 and Rose Domonoske ’21), have done a tremendous job being creative in the distance team building activities. As soon as they were named captains they started with Team Zoom calls and weekly recordings with everyone and we continued until this fall. They also divided the team into small groups which they call “families” which was very nice. This is about four people per group, each of different class years. It really helps (the athletes), especially the freshmen, get to know the team members in a less intimidating setting.

Families too (participate in community service work together.) They have a weekly family reunion with our member of the IMPACT team. (The IMPACT team pairs young athletes with health challenges with varsity teams.) Each week our “families” call (our athlete) or bake cupcakes with them. They led the IMPACT Unstoppable 5K team and most recently, due to COVID, they wrote letters to our athlete in the mail. Our team truly thrives by giving back to the community. So any opportunity they have to inspire others, they jump on it.

Is there one aspect of the canceled season that you hope to carry over to the regular seasons?

What the team tried to do in order to share Brown with the rookies, but also anyone interested in Brown’s gymnastics, was for one of our student-athletes to take an Instagram takeover. They’ll post a day of their experience at Brown, answer questions, and share their favorite times and places on Brown’s campus. So that was really fun.

What was your biggest coaching challenge during the canceled season?

Gymnastics is a unique sport in that it is very difficult to maintain a high level of skill outside of a gym. Our gymnasts can do basic conditioning and strength, but they cannot necessarily turn, swing or fly safely out of the gym. So we asked them to really take this time to focus on their weaknesses. For example, if flexibility is a weakness, they can really work on their flexibility at home right now with things like yoga. But there is a challenge, because unlike other sports, you can’t really go out and play a game of gymnastics on the lawn. It’s harder for a gymnast to train safely outside of the gym, and I really don’t recommend it. We’re going to go through the basics, get them conditioning their strength and flexibility, and that will give them a solid foundation for returning to the gym.

Do you have any tips for gymnasts who do not have access to coaching on the best way to return to the gym after the long break due to COVID?

Muscle memory is a good thing. We always tell our athletes that they get injured or need time off for some reason just to stay in shape – just to condition themselves, stay in shape and know your body won’t forget how to do it. gymnastic. It may take a little longer, so you need to take it slowly. This is exactly what we are telling our athletes right now who have not had the opportunity to train in gymnastics for quite some time. We’re going to treat this like they’re coming back from an injury and progress slowly once we get a chance to get back to the gym. So core strength and conditioning can go a long way in helping you get back into the sport.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.


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