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SUNY Brockport gymnastics prepares for a new coach


After 22 years of coaching at SUNY Brockport, legendary Coach John Feeney has retired, and the program has been scrambling for a new coach ever since. This has been a difficult process for the team considering Feeney attributed heavily to the program’s success.  

Although approaching the season without a coach is not ideal, the women on the gymnastics team maintain a positive mindset, believing this is a hurdle the team can cross together.  

One of their captains, Kelly Devine, believes looking at the positive side is the best option.

“Staying positive is all you can do during this,” Devine said. 

It has been more challenging than in previous years for the team to practice and stay in shape for the upcoming season without a coach. According to the gymnasts, they do voluntary lifts and a lot of team bonding to stay prepared for the upcoming season.  

A senior team captain, Lexi Castellaneta, has seen her team come together in a unique way during this unpredictable time.

“Everything that has happened made our team stronger, individually and as a whole… I feel like we are closer with the underclassmen than we have been in past years. I think that is because of what happened, so that’s a positive side to it,” Castellaneta said.  

Feeney retired as a three-time National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) National coach (2004, 2010, 2012), a six-time Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Champion (2004, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2014) and helped coach an astonishing 130 All Americans.  

SUNY Brockport gymnastics gym; Photo Credit: Mathieu Starke

Feeney will be missed dearly by the college and gymnastics program, but the team is ready to take on this season with a new coach.  

Senior Nicole Jackson is certain the impact Feeney left on the program will never be forgotten.  

“We are excited for a new coach, and keeping Feeney’s culture in the gym,” Jackson said.  

Freshman Grace Raffaele has not been with the team long, but she feels the seniors have created an environment that is vibrant and full of Feeney’s culture.  

“The seniors have been so good at keeping him somewhat in the gym and keeping his jokes alive,” Raffaele said.  

Additionally, Castellaneta thinks a new coach will bring new perspectives and skills to the program. The team plans to head into the season with open minds while continuing Feeney’s legacy and creating a good dynamic with the new coach. 

The gymnastics team has been a nationally recognized program for many years now, including two first place NCGA Team National Championships and appearances in every season at the NCGA Championship since 2007.  

Although the team has been put in tough situations the past couple of months, they are eager to be back in the gym and to push themselves to new levels.  

“There’s definitely a lot of talent on the team in every class,” Castellaneta said. 

Senior Madison Baker knows the obstacles the team has faced this season will be challenging to work through, but they are ready to put in the work.  

“As much as we want to win every meet and continue our streak as national champions, our main goal is to get back in the gym and get back to where we were prior to the COVID-19 shutdown…Our goal is to focus on communication as a team and come together during these difficult times so that we are successful as a team even with the adjustment of a new coach,” Baker said.  

The women’s gymnastics team is going into the 2022 season with a positive mindset, ready to adapt to changes. Their first meet is against SUNY Cortland and Ithaca College, on Saturday, January 15, 2022, at home.  

SUNY Brockport gymnastics gym; Photo Credit: Mathieu Starke
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