When Penn gymnastics takes to the mats this weekend, it will be for more than just numbers on a page.
This Sunday’s meet against West Chester and Rutgers is the annual Think Pink weekend. Both gymnastics and women’s hoops will be raising money for Unite for Her, a charity devoted to breast cancer awareness and research.
“We are going to be selling pink t-shirts,” coach John Ceralde said. “All of the proceeds will be going to Unite for Her foundation.”
Every year the Quakers have a meet where they dress in pink and raise money for breast cancer. This year however, the meet will be particularly meaningful for one member of the Red and Blue.
Senior Nicki Valenti’s mother, Sara Valenti, passed away this past September after a six-year battle with breast cancer at the age of 48.
“I think it will probably be emotional for her,” Cerlade said. “She likes the idea that we are doing a pink meet, and we do one every year, but this one will be special.”
“It’s something that all the girls have been really excited about doing,” junior Makeda Constable added.
The good cause, as well as the Quakers’ success last weekend, has increased the hype for the competition.
“[I’m] really excited coming off of last weekend because I think we did really well as a team and we have been improving every week,” Constable said. “That has been our main goal.”
“I think we are sitting in a good place,” Ceralde added. “We increased our team score [and] we did better on our events so we are moving in the right direction.”
The team hopes that they will once again surpass the 190-point mark this weekend after doing it for the first time in a home meet last week, and to do so the Quakers have changed up their practices.
“The assignments have been challenging,” Constable said. “We have been doing lots of pressure routines, and we have a more positive attitude about how things will go as a team and with practice we’ve been getting a lot better.”
The Red and Blue are facing other obstacles too, including the weather. Even with the snow day yesterday, the team could not afford to miss practice.
Despite the rough winter, the team has not been impacted too badly.
“Sometimes it’s a little harder on your body when it’s cold outside,” Constable said. “But so far we haven’t had any major impacts from the weather.”
This Sunday, the Red and Blue will be put to the test to see if they can once again show off their gymnastics for a home crowd and hit the high scores they need, despite the snow, to honor a teammate’s mother’s memory.