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Gymnastics approved for Parkston Trojans

Pierre sophomore Demeri Hanson competes on the bars during the Eastern South Dakota Conference gymnastics meet Feb. 8 at the Corn Palace in Mitchell. The photo illustration was created by combining multiple images together with computer software to create one image. (Sean Ryan/Republic)

PARKSTON — Bridget Muntefering has spent most of her life doing or coaching gymnastics.

Since moving to Parkston in May 2013, she’s been away from the sport — until now.

“Once gymnastics is in your blood, it’s always going to be a part of your life,” said Muntefering, who will be the head coach of the Trojan program.

At the Parkston School Board meeting on March 10, gymnastics was approved as an extracurricular activity — but the program must provide its own funding.

The school board agreed if the district were to incur any costs, the gymnastics program will be terminated. Gymnastics will begin in the 2014-15 school year.

Heather Prunty, one of the parents who brought the gymnastics idea to the school board, said she’s received a lot of support from the community about the new program.

“I have people stopping me all the time saying, ‘congratulations,’ ” she said. “People have fundraising ideas, there are girls saying, ‘I want to be in gymnastics some day.’ There are a lot of people saying this will be a good thing for Parkston.”

The program will have to raise funds for uniforms, coaches’ pay and meet expenses. The total cost of the amount needed to run the program is yet to be determined, Prunty said.

The Trojans won’t have their own equipment or facility in the beginning stages of the program. Prunty said the Mitchell School District has agreed to allow the Parkston team to use the Kernels’ facility for $1 per year for the next two years. During the high school season, which is November through February, the Kernels practice in the lower gym at the high school.

“They want to help us get started,” Prunty said, adding she’s received help from Mitchell High School coach Audra Rew. “This will give us time.”

During the offseason, the gymnasts can participate in club gymnastics, which some of the Parkston girls currently do at MEGA Gymnastics in Mitchell.

Prunty said 20 girls were interested in the program from the committee’s sign up. There will be two open gyms in April to allow the participants to explore if it’s something they are interested in joining.

“It gives them an opportunity to learn something new while they’re there and allows parents the opportunity to meet the coaches,” Muntefering said.

Muntefering, who works as a wellness director in Sioux Falls, has a historied background in the sport, competing at a high level of club gymnastics for 15 years. She stopped competing in gymnastics as a junior in high school and began to participate in competitive cheer, where she went on to compete for Bowling Green State University (Ohio).

She coached for high school programs in Rochester, Minn., for 4 1/2 years beginning in 2007.

Prunty said she’d like the program to be a cooperative with Ethan, but Ethan has not passed the sport for its students. She added she’s received positive feedback from other programs around the state.

“We already have some calls from schools to go to their meets,” Prunty said. “I’m really excited the girls will get this chance.”

Brooke Cersosimo
Brooke Cersosimo is The Daily Republic's sports editor.