Erin Naclerio has been competing in gymnastics for as long as she can remember.
Those days may be nearing an end, but if her competitive days are over, she certainly went out with a bang.
For the second consecutive year, Naclerio won the Southern Connecticut Conference All-Around title and was named first team All-State in all four years at Hand. All of that makes her a worthy repeat winner of the New Haven Register Area gymnastics MVP.
“To have such a strong junior year and to be able to match it in her senior year is a testament to her consistency,” Hand coach Kelly Smith said. “She set some new goals and to do it two years in a row to end her career is a positive.”
Naclerio won the SCC all-around title by 0.5 points over Bri Laggis of Foran back in February. She won both the balance beam and vault with 9.2 scores. She was second in the floor exercise and uneven bars, with Laggis edging her in both events.
In the State Open, Naclerio finished sixth in the all-around and qualified for the New England Open in all four events after not placing in any event in the State Open.
“It’s a testament to her strength as all-around gymnast, instead of having one stand out event,” Smith said.
Smith said Naclerio didn’t have a weakness in any event. In fact, she went through the entire season without falling on the balance beam.
“She’s a really hard worker, is very driven and consistent,” Smith said. “It’s always been a strength for us that we could always count on her to do well. She has that kind of mental grit. The pressure is in the back of her mind, but she didn’t let it affect her performances.”
Naclerio has been doing gymnastics since she was two years old when she saw her sister, Maggie, doing it. By the time she was 12, she was on level 7, which allowed her to do her own routines
“I realized I wasn’t too bad at this,” she said. “But when I got to Hand, I definitely felt a lot of pressure. This is a big program, and because my sister went through it, people and the judges knew who I was judges because of my sister. I knew I had big shoes to fill.”
She was more successful in her freshman and sophomore years than she expected, but that helped her set high goals over the last two seasons.
Naclerio recently decided that she will attend the University of Connecticut where she will major in music. Eventually, she plans on going into to pre-med with the hopes of working in the pediatric field in the future.
Athletically, Naclerio hasn’t decided on her plans as a Husky, but she’s leaning towards pole vaulting for the UConn track team and may do gymnastics at the club level. Gymnastics in college is a totally different animal than in high school as many top gymnasts go through the Olympic program and end up at schools such as Florida, Georgia and Auburn.
In the pole vault, Naclerio raised her top vault from 8 feet to 9 feet 6 inches last spring. Her goal this year is 11 feet. She trains in Norwich with a pole vaulting coach as much as she can.
“I’ve been working on it,” she said. “The pole vault has a ton of gymnastics elements in it. Even if I step away from the sport, it’s still there.”
It really hasn’t hit Naclerio yet that her high school gymnastics career is over.
“It was so satisfying to close my senior year with the team doing the best it could do and individually,” Naclerio said.
Regardless of what she decides to do in the future, she can’t picture herself not going to the gym every day.
“I can’t imagine stopping athletics in general, but with my schedule, I’ll have to see how everything works out,” Naclerio said. “Even when I come home, I’ll stop off in the gym to try some of my old skills.”
Looks like she just can’t stay away.