The Newest Victor Implemented Sport, Victor Varsity Girl’s Gymnastics


Photo provided by Sophia Damico from 2020

The year 2022 marked the beginning of a varsity gymnastics program at Victor Central School District, a sport that had already been implemented in surrounding schools for years as early as the 1980s, according to the Rush Henrietta (RH) gymnastics coach, Jason Mancari, referring to his own team. 


Victor Senior High School’s senior, Sophia Damico, has done gymnastics since she was three years old, and jumped at the opportunity to join VGVG, even if she’d be the only member. 


In order to create a team environment with only one interested member, Damico reached out to Victor’s athletic director, Duane Weimer, who then reached out to RH’s athletic director, Tom Stewart and an agreement was made to let Damico practice and go to meets with RH, while still representing Victor.  


Mancari stated that the requirements for his gymnastics skills are skill based rather than a certain amount of experience. He generally requires each member, at the minimum, to be able to flip either direction on the floor, cartwheel on beam, kip on bars, and do a handspring on the vault.


Each two-and-a-half long practice consists of a 15-20 minute warm up and stretch, followed by each gymnast splitting off into their own event, which will depend on the event they are competing at the next scheduled meet. Practice will typically end with a short amount of conditioning


RH has been welcoming members from other districts since at least the early 90s, and they currently have two members from HFL that have been practicing with them for the past four years. Mancari mentioned that he is still open to welcoming members from Victor next year if there still aren’t enough members.


Victor’s athletic director, Duane Weimer mentioned that gymnastics is not the only future sport in the making. Every year, November through February, the athletic department surveys the students and families of the 6-11th grade, and as a result, gymnastics, nordic-skiing, e-sports, and flag football are considered to be funded as future Victor sports if enough students are interested. 


Weimer applauds Damico’s success this past season and states that there is still a plan to collaborate with RH in the future. However, if participation continues to grow, gymnastics will be considered to be a part of Victor’s operational budget which will include coaching, staffing, facilities, travel, and equipment. 


When Damico was asked to describe being the only Victor student on the team, she explained that she was nervous for a variety of reasons. She had been out of the sport for quite a while before joining on a varsity level, and hadn’t played since she was 15. She also dealt with coaches that were very intense and “cutthroat” as she describes. 

But she also felt that this was an opportunity that forced her to network and now has tight bonds with girls on the team. She also liked that she’d be scored individually while still enjoying the team spirit. Damico expresses her gratitude to her coaches for the immediate reassurance that they provided her on her first day of practice. 


Damico was the ultimate catalyst for the implementation of VGVG. While Mr. Weimer focused on the logistics, Damico explained how she, “basically just emailed him (Weimer) a lot and was annoying. I tried to do parts of it by myself like looking for a coach, a place to train, teammates, and competitive leos, but once we established the temporary team, Mr. Weimer did all of that stuff for me.”


Gymnastics is a very beloved sport to Damico because it allows her to plan her routines out, and put her all into what she’s doing without the pressure of expecting to be the best out of everyone, but seeing the improvement within her own skills. She admires, “finding new approaches to issues and the feeling you get when a skill finally clicks.” 


Finally when asked what her favorite routine is, Damico answered that while bars is her favorite event in general, her floor routine is her favorite to perform, “Especially this year, my routine has a lot of dance in it, and I love really going all out in my routine and using my music to help me power through my tumbling passes.” As a gymnast and a dancer, her floor routine brings the best of both of those worlds to Damico.


The only way VGVG will continue to grow is with continued interest in the future. Since Damico is a senior, she can’t directly control where the VGVG path will wind, but she encourages younger athletes with even a slight interest in gymnastics to join. She points out that, “It’s a pretty good environment to start gymnastics in, it’s pretty relaxed because it’s mostly an individual sport, but it’s also as serious as you want to make it. If you’re there to have fun then that’s great and it’s also great if you’re there to win.”

Sophia photographed in 2020 at Saratoga Winterfest