MILFORD — Southern Connecticut Conference gymnasts from Foran, Mercy, Hamden, Law and Hand will compete as individual teams over a six-day period to determine the league’s best.
Amy Bodnar from Milford will be the only one able to say she saw every vault, floor routine and dismount.
Bodnar, the state’s judging director with the National Association of Women’s Gymnastic Judges, said she was happy to draw the straw that will take her from Milford on Saturday morning to Niantic on Thursday to determine the SCC’s best team.
“I think it is great that the kids can still have a championship-type meet,” Bodnar said. “We can’t get the exact same atmosphere (full gym, all teams), and it took some flexibility and cooperation from everyone to get in all five meets.”
Bodnar was a gymnast at Lewis Mills High in Burlington before foregoing the sport when she attended the University of Rhode Island.
“I started judging when I was at URI,” said Bodnar, who thanked her mom Sandy for being a gymnastics judge and showing her the ropes. “I had taken up gymnastics when I was 4 and have been judging meets now for 15 years. Judging was another way to help pay for college.”
COVID-19 has impacted the NAWGJ staff.
“Pre-COVID we had 15-20 available and now it is closer to 10-15,” Bodnar said. “Luckily, most people felt comfortable to go judge. Some teams stayed at their schools and others went to private gyms. For the judges, it was not a big deal because we want to get there for the teams. We typically travel across the state for judging.”
High school meets were mostly judged in person with some strictly virtual meets throw in.
“It could be challenging doing meets virtually,” Bodnar said. “The camera angles they did well, the hardest challenge was the web connection and clarity. At one meet a gymnast went out of frame and I couldn’t see the landing, see if she had taken a few steps. But they had a backup camera, and in this case the gymnast fell.”
Judges don’t get caught up in which may be the best team or the top gymnasts. They must judge each routine on its own merit. But Bodnar said that doesn’t mean that judges don’t care.
“It is great to see the amazing gymnasts, but I also enjoy the team aspect that comes with it, the camaraderie they have with each other,” Bodnar said. “I love it. For me, that’s the lure watching these girls come together and support each other.”
Bodnar knows that high school gymnasts come from a range of backgrounds.
“Some kids do clubs, some don’t. Some kids did club when they were younger and now just want to participate in the high school season,” she said. “It is as rewarding to see when someone gets a 7.0 and they are all ecstatic. That may be the best score the girl received all year. The girl with a 9.5 in the same event is excited for her. They value each other.”
Fellow judges found value in Bodnar’s work as she was the 2020 Region 6 Connecticut Green Flag recipient. Chosen by NAWGJ National, Bodnar was singled out for contributions to the organization, her professionalism and leadership.
“It was a great honor and I was deeply appreciated that someone thought enough to nominate me,” Bodnar said. “It was a surprise. I try to go about my day and to be as helpful as I can.”
SCC Coaches Chairman Pat Simon said that after the five meets are scored, coaches will meet virtually to vote on SCC MVP and the All-SCC gymnastics team.