First-year Huskies continue to bond on gymnastics team
Hinsdale, 12/08/12--Oak Park River Forest's Lauren Robinson competes in floor exercise. Hinsdale Central High School hosted the Red Devil Invite for girls gymnastics Saturday morning. | Jon Langham~for Sun-Times Media
Friday Boys basketball: vs. York, 7:30 p.m.
Boys basketball: vs. York, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday Wrestling: OPRF Invite, 8 a.m.
Wrestling: OPRF Invite, 8 a.m.
Updated: February 19, 2013 12:33PM
OAK PARK — There have been moments during Lauren Robinson and Riley Patnode’s freshman seasons when, just by a glance shared between best friends, Oak Park-River Forest girls gymnastics coach Kris Wright can sense their long history.
“They know each other so well that it’s that little yin-and-yang where I’ve seen one look at the other and they can almost give each other that support (during meets or practice) with a look,” Wright said. “It’s really cool that they’re such good friends and in the same sport.”
The varsity rookies have been best friends since well before their first years at Oak Park-River Forest. They first became close because of their parents’ friendship and grew tighter by attending the same school and bonding over gymnastics, even though Patnode trains at Tri-Star Gymnastics in Forest Park and Robinson at Oak Park Gymnastics Center.
But for more than a year, it seemed as if the opportunity to compete on the same team — something they had anticipated for years — wouldn’t happen because of a stress injury in Robinson’s back.
“I had to stop (gymnastics) at the end of seventh grade,” Robinson said. “I took a year off and now I’m back. I originally wasn’t planning on doing it ... . All of last year, I really missed it. I came to one open gym this year and loved it too much to stop. It took a little while to get back into the swing of things and I’m definitely not as good as I used to be, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.”
Robinson’s back is better now, she says, because of physical therapy and the year away from the sport. The muscles and bones in her back have regained their strength and allow the freshmen duo to take starting roles this season. Robinson has often challenged for the team’s top score on floor exercise — she had an 8.600 against Glenbard West on Dec. 5 — while Patnode has consistently had the team’s best routine on uneven bars and challenged sophomore Isabel Beebe and senior Nicole Pohlman for Huskies’ top score in the all-around.
“We’re doing new stuff and it’s just interesting, being the younger ones and still on varsity,” said Patnode, the younger sister of all-state swimmer Kyle Patnode. “It’s more fun (with Lauren).”
Beyond their contributions in meets, the addition of Robinson and Patnode to the varsity has been an asset during practice. They’ve provided, along with Pohlman, an example of the focus and work ethic required to both successfully incorporate new tricks and become top performers.
“Riley’s definitely really focused in the gym and Lauren is as well,” said Pohlman. “Our team, we have a lot of fun during practice. But Riley and Lauren really know when it’s time to get down and work and hit their routines. I think that really shows when they compete. That really pays off for them.”