The Alexandria gymnastics team has a new head coach this season who knows plenty about the Cardinals program.
Tayler Kaufman was part of Alexandria gymnastics from the 2008 school year until she graduated high school in 2014. She competed in track and field at Minnesota State University-Moorhead in college and taught elementary special education in Moorhead after getting her teaching degree.
Kaufman moved back to Alexandria this past summer to take a special education teaching position at Alexandria Area High School and is eager to step in as the new Cardinals gymnastics coach in place of former coach Jessica Anderson.
“I am so excited to be the head gymnastics coach and can't wait to make a difference in the lives of these athletes,” Kaufman said.
The Cardinals lost just one letter winner from a year ago, but it was an important one in senior Sydney Gray. Gray qualified for the state tournament in the floor routine, and Alexandria will have to replace her talent and leadership abilities this winter.
Senior Kaylee Meyer and junior Rachel Boyden are the two team captains, and sophomore Hailie Kent and freshman Amaya Hughes are also returning letter winners looking to lead the way.
“The one thing we can control every day of our life is our attitude,” Kaufman said. “When things go wrong or adversity strikes, the one thing we can always control is our response. I expect the athletes to have great attitudes. We feel this is one of life's most valuable lessons.”
Kaufman listed three more expectations for her team other than maintaining that positive attitude. She wants her athletes to show the effort toward improvement every day. She expects them to trust, communicate and care about each other as teammates and she wants to make sure that having fun is a focus of the kids.
“High school sports should be memorable experiences that foster life-long relationships and memories,” Kaufman said. “We want to create an environment in which the athletes will have a positive and enjoyable gymnastics season.”
The Cardinals have 11 new athletes total in their program.
“We are coming into the season with a lot of depth, giving everyone opportunities to contribute to our overall team score,” Kaufman said. “The newcomers have trained and competed alongside last years varsity team when they were younger, and all in the club circuit. The atmosphere in the gym is electric and everyone is excited for this season.”
A lot of newcomers have been in gymnastics much of their life through the club team, but Kaufman feels there will be some adjustments to make moving to the high school team.
“We will need to make sure that these girls can learn and master the new requirements in their routines,” she said. “Another area that will be improved throughout the season is confidence. When the athletes are confident, they will be able to stick their landing, and finish each skill with precision and excellence.”
Kaufman views Willmar and Sartell as two of the top teams in the Central Lakes Conference. Alexandria moved into the Section 8AA field after new section assignments were announced by the Minnesota State High School League.
“The ones to watch for are Sartell and Brainerd, who always put forth a competitive section meet,” Kaufman said.
2019-20 ALEXANDRIA GYMNASTICS
ROSTER - Kaylee Meyer (captain), Rachel Boyden (captain), Izzy Kent, Sara Eddy, Erica Johnson, Sarah Kelley, Hailie Kent, Ailynn Fettig, Miriam Anderson, Amaya Hughes, Kelsey Fletcher, Sydni Rehovsky, Kylie Chapman, Tatiana Cantwell, Savannah Auran
COACHES - Head coach - Tayler Kaufman, first season; Assistant coaches - Adrienne Meyer, Nichole Boyden
ALEXANDRIA GYMNASTICS SCHEDULE
Dec. 3 LPGE, 6 p.m.
Dec. 5 vs. Sartell, 6 p.m.
Dec. 12 at Brainerd, 6 p.m.
Dec. 13 at New London-Spicer, 5 p.m.
Dec. 17 at Bemidji, 6 p.m.
Dec. 20 vs. St. Cloud Tech, 6 p.m.
Jan. 2 vs. Fergus Falls, 6 p.m.
Jan. 4 at Park Rapids Invite, 12:30 p.m.
Jan. 7 vs. Melrose, 6 p.m.
Jan. 16 vs. Sauk Rapids-Rice, 6 p.m.
Jan. 21 vs. Moorhead, 6 p.m.
Jan. 23 at Willmar, 6 p.m.
Jan. 28 at Little Falls, 6 p.m.
Jan. 30 vs. Benson, 6 p.m.
Feb. 8 CLC championship at Willmar, 1 p.m.
Feb. 15 Section meet, TBD