For Robinson senior Bethie Graver, the road to success on the Robinson gymnastics team has been long.
As a freshman, Graver struggled through tough times on the team, but her perseverance and leadership are now helping the Rams to one of their best seasons in recent history.
"It’s been the best season I’ve ever had since I’ve been on the team," she said. "Over the years, we’ve just gotten better and better. We’ve improved a lot since my freshman year."
Last season, the Rams qualified for the regional tournament, a first for the Robinson gymnastics team.
Graver said the momentum from the 2008-09 season has now carried over to 2009-10, in which the Rams have two first-places finishes so far this season.
"We had a really strong opening," she said. "We got first at our first meet."
The Ram’s first-place finishes include a confidence-boosting win at the South Lakes Invitational meet on Dec. 12.
"Winning South Lakes was really big for us," Graver said. "We beat nine teams. It’s just a big deal for this team to win that competition."
The team is currently building on a 2-2 record, but in its Jan. 6 home meet with Chantilly, Herndon, Stone Bridge, McLean and Marshall, the Rams finished with a 134.45.
The Rams’ score was only 6.8 points behind Chantilly’s winning score of 141.15, displaying Robinson’s ability to compete with one of the area’s best programs.
Robinson’s recent winning streak isn’t just a testament to the girls’ skill, but also to the team’s unity.
"There’s no problems on the team or with any of the girls," junior Jessi Marco said. "We all just work hard and get along. It’s fun to come to practice and be with the team."
The hot start and sense of teamwork is also breeding hopes that the team can make another appearance at the regional meet in February.
"A lot of the same girls from [the regional] team are on this year’s team," said Head Coach Megan Smiley. "It’s our goal to get back to regionals."
But Smiley is cautiously optimistic about her team, knowing that in the sport of gymnastics, sometimes you’re on and sometimes you’re off.
"We’re good at beam and our vault can be hit-or-miss," she said. "All events are like that. You can have a good day one meet and a bad one the next. That’s just how this sport is."
With the season approaching an end, the team needs to continue its strong practices if they want to see the same success they saw in 2008-09, Smiley said.
"We just need to go out there and put in the practice," Smiley said. "It’s not one particular thing, we just have to work hard."