DEERFIELD — Deerfield’s girls gymnastics team went through some changes in the offseason.
Gone is top all-arounder Christine Stitcher, who graduated, as well as coach Carol Myers, who retired after 34 years running the program.
Those vacancies have left big shoes to fill for new coach Krista Settles, who was an assistant for 12 years under Myers, and senior Ally Perbohner, one of the Warriors‘ top returning gymnasts.
Perbohner said she knows that the pressure on her to lead the team — as well as her desire to reach state — means she will have to increase the difficulty of her routines.
“I need to be more consistent,” she said. “It hasn’t always been there so far. I’ve been really working on my vault routine and after winter break, I’m hoping to add a flip to it. But I know I need to add more tricks to it to be competitive.”
The senior is hoping her decision to compete with the school’s diving program in the offseason will eventually pay dividends, although first she said she needs to push through some fatigue after not taking a break during the fall.
“It’s definitely exhausting, but I think it will end up being easier on my body,” she said. “The movements [in diving] are similar as to what I do on the floor, and I can see already that my twisting has improved.”
After some initial struggles in Deerfield’s first two competitions, Perbohner has shown signs that things are starting to improve. She put up some of her best scores of the season in a dual meet against Niles North on Dec. 10, scoring an 8.8 on the floor, an 8.65 on the vault and an 8.1 on the beam. Four days later at the Conant Invite, her numbers were down a bit — an 8.45 on vault, 8.25 on floor and 7.95 on bars.
Settles said with Perbohner recognizing what she needs to do, it’s just a matter of putting it into action so that she can lead the team.
“To do well, you need to do the tricks,” Settles said. “She has the talent and she knows she needs to start doing it. It’s just matter of wanting it and being able to put it together. I want it for her. She needs to want it for herself”
Perbohner isn’t the only one transitioning. Settles has begun to make the Deerfield program her own, implementing a new practice structure and more accountability for the gymnasts.
“The transition from assistant coach to head coach was more difficult of a transition than I thought it would be, but that’s because I have made some changes to the program and nobody likes change,” she said. “Over time, things will feel more comfortable again.”