The University of New Hampshire's gymnastics team held its Senior Night against Central Michigan and Brown University on Monday, March 7. The event recognized the three seniors who are graduating this year: Chelsea Steinberg, Katie Lawrence and Katie Caliendo.
Steinberg, a senior co-captain, is an occupational therapy major who was born July 6, 1989, in Ridgewood, N.J. Her achievements as a gymnast during her four years at UNH have been astronomical, with career highs that include a 9.9 vault and a 9.9 on floor exercise. Her promising gymnastics career began at the U.S. Gymnastics Development Center in Mahwah, N.J., where she was coached by Joao and Michele Ribeiro and Suzanne Lotz. Among her first memorable junior achievements was placing first in beam and all-around at the 2004 Level 10 State Championship.
Since arriving in Durham, Steinberg has gone on to place for many titles and become a renowned Wildcat gymnast, staking her claim as one of the all-time greats in the program's history. Steinberg's long list of career highlights at UNH is staggering. In 2009, she was named the team's Most Valuable Player. In both her sophomore and junior years she placed at the NCAA Regional Championships, capped by a fourth-place finish in all-around last season. She is a three-time member of the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) All-Academic Team and has led the '11 Wildcats with first-place finishes against Rutgers (vault, AA), at the UNH Invitational (floor, AA), at Bridgeport (beam, AA) and on Senior Night versus CMU and Brown (beam).
According to 32nd-year head coach Gail Goodspeed, Steinberg "hit every event," and the senior co-captain concurred.
"Personally, I think this is one of the best meets of the season," Steinberg said. "I have a very supportive team, and [my career] has been a really great experience."
Lawrence's laundry list of gymnastics achievements has solidified her spot in the UNH record books. Her career highs include a 9.85 on uneven bars, matched on Senior Night, and 9.875 on beam. A biochemistry major, Lawrence was born on March 17, 1985, and grew up on Lyme, Conn. Prior to her collegiate career, she was coached by Maureen Pokorny at Shoreline Gymnastics in Old Saybrook, Conn. Her accomplishments during that time include placing as a Level 9 Eastern National Qualifier in 2006 and Level 10 Qualifier in 2007.
Lawrence did not join the UNH gymnastics team until her sophomore year as a walk-on.
"I was really welcomed with open arms," Lawrence said.
During her time at UNH, the senior co-captain has accumulated numerous honors. She is a two-time EAGL All-Academic Team member and NACGC/W Scholastic All-American. She was also honored as co-recipient of the 2010 Most Inspirational Award.
Despite not feeling well on Monday night, Lawrence still had a strong performance in her final home meet.
"I was really proud of [her]," Goodspeed said.
"The adrenaline and the weight of the meet really hit me," Lawrence said. "I was really proud of all of us."
A kinesiology sports studies major, Katie Caliendo was born April 14, 1989, and grew up in Manorville, N.Y. Before attending UNH, Caliendo was coached at the Riverside Gymnastics Academy in Riverhead, N.Y., by Tom and Bonnie Tellez. She placed third in beam and eighth in all-around at the Level 10 Regional Championship in 2006. In 2007, she notched third place in beam at the Level 10 State Championship.
Caliendo's career highs as a Wildcat are 9.85 on vault and balance beam and a 9.875 on floor exercise. She is three-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American and EAGL All-Academic Team member whose 2011 highlights include a tie for first in beam at the UNH Invitational with a 9.8 and a personal-best-tying 9.875 to share the high score on floor on Senior Night.
Goodspeed marveled at the highlight of Caliendo's floor performance, as the senior landed her first career full-in, a double back flip with a full twist during the first flip. It was the first time she had attempted the maneuver in an actual meet and it solidified her personal best on floor and a share of first place in the event.
"It's been amazing," Caliendo said of her experience with the gymnastics team. "I don't know what I'm going to do without them."
UNH placed second for the evening, behind Central Michigan University, with a final score of 195.225, its second-highest score of the year.
All three seniors have played an integral role as part of the UNH Gymnastics Team. Their drive and achievements will be difficult to match.
"I can't even describe what we lose," Goodspeed said of the graduating seniors. "They've handed down a strong work ethic, a desire and drive to be the best you can be."