Cimarolli’s career coming quickly

By Katie Leb

When Kerri Strug vaulted the United States’ gymnastics team to Olympic gold in 1996, Maggie Cimarolli was too young to remember if she saw it live.

As a fellow gymnast, however, she has seen the historic moment on tape and aspires to one day accomplish such a feat of greatness.

Before joining the NIU gymnastics team this season, the Belleville, Ill. native experienced the national stage when she competed in the Junior Olympic Nationals her senior year after qualifying at her regional, which consisted of five states.

“We are in region five which is one of the toughest regions,” Cimarolli said. “I ended up being the number seven spot and competed [at nationals]. I had a little mess up on the floor, but overall I did pretty good.”

Understanding the pressure associated with gymnastics allowed Cimarolli to adjust to college competition in her first year with the Huskies.

“Maggie is just tapping her talent,” head coach Mark Sontag said. “She has had a really good pre-college career… If she gets used to competing at the college level, gets used to differences between college and club, I think she’s going to progress in all four events.”

Cimarolli competes in the uneven bars, vault, floor exercise and balance beam, but likes uneven bars best of all.

Since she was three years old, Cimarolli has worked on her tumbling. After her parents noticed she had an overabundance of energy, gymnastics became a resolution to what may have become a problem. But since her school did not have a program, Cimarolli joined a club gym and has progressed in her skills and her love of the sport.

“Once I hit high school I really loved it and wanted to stick with it,” Cimarolli said. “Gymnastics is a sport where you can only do it for so long before your body kind of quits on you. I liked it so much I am continuing through college.”

In order to get into a college program, Cimarolli first had to make coaches aware of her talent. She sent videos of her best performances to many of the MAC schools, including NIU, and also built a website that showcased her talents. Sontag consulted with Cimarolli and found it to be a good fit for both.

“We look at several hundred profiles and tapes every year,” Sontag said. “We have to weed that down to the three or four that we’re really looking for…If you come and watch [Cimarolli] compete it’s obvious why she’s on the team.”

Cimarolli is enjoying her freshman season and the transition from club to college gymnastics. Even though it may not be the Olympics, Cimarolli says the college experience is worthy of attention.

“I feel like it’s a really fun sport to watch,” she said. “I know everyone’s like ‘oh you’re going to the Olympics,’ but college gymnastics is a really cool place to be.”