The Bellefonte gymnastics team survived another year as a varsity program, but enhancements must be made to stay there.
For the second consecutive year, the program was threatened to go from a district-funded program to a club sport. But in a 5-4 vote Wednesday night at Central Pennsylvania Institute of Science and Technology, the school board voted against turning gymnastics into a club sport for the next school year.
“It feels like a victory,” volunteer coach Lisa Hovies said.
According to board members, the program was at risk of being cut due to budgetary reasons and because it doesn’t technically meet all the PIAA criteria by participating in at least two of the following: the Mountain League, District 6 championships and PIAA playoffs.
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But gymnastics coach Kelsey Wellar said there aren’t other teams in the Mountain League to compete against, which is why they compete elsewhere.
Wellar said she is working toward changing that by getting the word out to local schools to establish gymnastics programs.
“I think that’s the only way to do it,” Wellar said. “We want to the sport to grow and get more schools to compete.”
According to information from the district athletic office, Bellefonte gymnastics has the second-highest cost per student-athlete, but with the lowest number of participants.
The annual budget for gymnastics is about $12,000, board member Mike Danneker said.