When Erin Naclerio was 2 years old she remembers watching her sister at gymnastics practice and wanted to do the same thing. Her parents signed her up for a tumbling class and that was the start of her gymnastics career.
Fifteen years have passed and now at the end of her junior year at Hand High, Naclerio is the Register Area gymnastics MVP, her third selection to the All-Area team.
She earned the honor by winning the all-around at the Southern Connecticut Conference championship meet with a score of 36.15, 0.7 points better than runner-up Melanie Coleman of Law. Naclerio won the vault and placed third in the other three events as the Tigers won their ninth straight SCC team championship.
“I just wanted to do all the flips and the tricks and the hand stands that (my sister) could do,” Naclerio said. “I kind of always loved gymnastics, I never really stopped.”
After a few years of practicing and learning the basics, Naclerio was invited to join the competition team at her local gym.
“I remember the day my mom told me I got asked to join the team,” Naclerio said. “It was like the best day of my life. I was so excited to start doing competitions, get the shiny new leotard and put myself out there on the floor and have everyone watching me.”
But she got off to a rough start.
At her first meet, she was so anxious to get started she began her beam routine before the judges were ready.
“I was terrible when I started,” Naclerio said. “I had no idea that you had to try and keep form and that there were rules. The first meet I competed at the judge was taking too long, I got impatient and just started my routine. The judges were very confused and my coach was very mad at me.”
A few years later at the Level 5 state meet, Naclerio emerged as one of the best in the state and her ultra-competitive side showed.
After losing by 0.05 points previously, she spent extra time in the gym leading up to the state competition and it paid off.
“I was in the gym every day for like three and a half hours working my butt off and then I went on to win level five states,” Naclerio said. “From that point on, I think gymnastics got a lot more serious for me.”
She once again watched her sister go through the Hand gymnastics program and wanted to be out on the floor instead of watching from the sidelines. But she knew her time would come.
Her freshman year she competed in all but two high school meets and by the end of the season was physically drained. She had never competed so much in a short period of time, but it only made her work harder.
At the SCC championships her freshman year, Naclerio was still in the feeling-out process, but as usual wanted to post a great score. But she fell off the beam.
The next season she fell again and thought she was cursed. So coming into the 2016-17 season, Naclerio had high expectations for herself and came through.
“It was the only meet I had fallen off beam,” Naclerio said. “So I thought I had this curse with me that I would fall off beam at SCCs and I didn’t this year, so that was really relieving.”
That success gave her the confidence she wanted heading into the state meets and with the pressure of four straight Class M titles on the line, Naclerio came through about as well as she could have asked for.
She won the vault, beam and floor to help the Tigers to their fifth straight state title, 18th overall which ties Simsbury for the most girls gymnastics titles in state history.
At the State Open, Naclerio faltered slightly on her vault, but placed sixth on the beam showing once again that she can’t be counted out in any discipline.
And she’ll be back with Hand and coach Kelly Smith for one more year. Even though they will be losing a set of quality seniors, the Tigers gymnastics team will be looking not only for their 10th straight SCC title, but also their sixth straight (and record-breaking) Class M state championship in 2018.