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Senior Kyra Levi has plenty of talent to bring to the team, but her biggest contributions come from being a captain.

Credit: Zach Sheldon

Steady, uplifting leadership is critical to keeping a team on the path to success.

Luckily for Penn gymnastics, that’s exactly what returning co-captains senior Kyra Levi and junior Caroline Moore bring to the table. The two teammates were at the helm for last year’s season, and this year they are bringing that experience to be even better leaders for their team.

Both Levi and Moore, as athletes, are two of the best gymnasts in school history: Levi ranks No. 3 in school history in bars, while Moore is already in the top five in beam, floor, and vault. But for these two captains to be effective leaders, it is crucial that they can work together off the floor as well.

“We really have to be on the same page for everything to go smoothly,” Levi said. “She and I have to understand how the other is feeling and what the other thinks about certain decisions and just in general how our lives are going.”

In addition to the connection the two athletes foster between one another, Moore emphasized the value that she puts on being able to learn from Levi and draw on her positive spirits. Not to be outdone, Levi responded that her co-captain’s level-headedness was just as important for keeping team emotions on an even keel, even when the going gets tough.

“I learn from her every day,” Moore said. “Whenever she falls, she always gets up; she falls very little, I will say. Whenever it does happen, she always yells, 'Go Penn,' so really she's been an inspiration to me on how to remain positive in tough situations, where you just want to be frustrated.”

“Caroline’s really a steady person,” Levi said. “So, being someone who’s maybe not as steady as Caroline, it's extremely helpful to always have her as a guiding tool to kind of bring me back down to earth or lift me up. She makes life a lot easier for me.”

On top of the strength they draw from each other, the two captains also value the experience they’ve gained from last season. Last year, they had the opportunity to work alongside 2017 graduate Rachel Graham, and learned valuable lessons both from their senior teammate and from working through difficulties. This is why coach John Ceralde selects captains based on a variety of different factors, rather than just seniority.

Credit: File Photo

“We like to give those guys experience so they can learn from their upperclassmen so that sets the tone for their following year,” Ceralde said. “So they don’t just run into being a captain cold, they actually have some experience.”

Ceralde also echoed his captains in emphasizing the role that they play in keeping the team on an even keel and helping the team stay positive and together.

“Good captains always promote camaraderie in the team,” Ceralde said. “We’ve got a great camaraderie on the team, so they keep it positive in the gym as well as out of the gym and they just lead by good examples.”

Promoting communication between the team, captains, and coaching staff is another element of Levi and Moore’s captainship that has resulted in major benefits for the program. The two teammates are also close friends, and they make an effort to stay in touch, talking every day about gymnastics and life.

The two have such a close bond, they sometimes think the same, too. Although they answered without knowing the other’s response when asked what their most important impact was on the team, they gave eerily similar answers.

Credit: Lucy Ferry

“Obviously I have bad days, but my goal is to try and be as positive as I can in the gym so that transfers over into meet situations,” Levi said. “That's something that I’m proud of, to try and help everybody to be as positive as they can.”

“It's attitude. We all have bad days, we all have good days,” Moore said. “I think at the end of the day it’s just about how you respond when something doesn’t go your way, and how you can learn from overcoming those difficulties and being better the next weekend and each week.”

Although the team may not have achieved what it hoped to at the Lindsey Ferris Invitational last week, expectations are high. It is clear that if the team is to reach its full potential and win the Ivy or ECAC Championship, a significant part of the credit should go to the two returning co-captains, and the attitude and togetherness they bring to the program.