February 13, 2013 | 775 views
High School Sports
Valley Stream gymnasts set the bar high
While the Valley Stream Central High School District gymnastics team is only in its fourth year of existence, it’s certainly gaining some notoriety after posting a regular season record of 5-4 that included a new team-high score at a meet in January.
Melissa Valentino is in her first year as coach of the team after previously coaching in California and Connecticut, dating back to 2002, and said her team’s dedication in practice paid big dividends and yielded positive results.
One of the team’s three co-captains, Jessica Betts, a senior from North High School, qualified for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association Girls Gymnastic Championship after she placed fourth on the vault during an invitational. According to Valentino, Betts is one of 11 girls, out of 300 from Nassau County, to qualify for the state championships, which will take place on March 2 in Smithtown.
“Jessica is very patient and she’s a perfectionist in an amazing way,” Valentino said. “She works very hard to make her skills perfect and it shows in her routines and everything she does.”
Betts started practicing gymnastics when she was 3 and currently works out at Five Star Gymnastics in East Rockaway, in addition to her work with the district team. “It’s very exciting,” she said of qualifying for the state championship. “I was definitely shocked to get it and I’m just very happy in what I accomplished.”
There is one gymnastics team for all four district schools, although this year there are no girls from South High on the team. The team’s home gym is at Oceanside High School. Each day after school, the girls boarded a bus at 5 p.m. to Oceanside and returned to Valley Stream around 8 p.m. Valentino said the practice schedule required a lot of commitment from her gymnasts and their parents.
Another success story from this year’s team was Imani Williams, a freshman at North, who took first place in the all-around competition at last week’s Nassau County Conference II invitational.