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Article Published January 23, 2020

Gagliardi’s Making Her Mark as a Gymnast

By By Peter Vander Veer

Juliana Gagliardi is having a great debut season on the high school gymnastics circuit this winter. A freshman at Haddam-Killingworth, Juliana is one of three athletes from the school who competes for the H-K/Morgan/Hale-Ray co-op gymnastics team. Three meets into the season, Juliana has been recording scores in the high 8s and low 9s in all four of her events.

Juliana is a Level 8 gymnast who got her start in the sport she was three. Juliana trained and competed for Campbell’s Gymnastics in Clinton and then moved over to Flip-Flop Gymnastics in Deep River. Flip-Flop is owned and operated by Monica Bauer, who is also the head coach of H-K’s co-op squad.

“Juliana obviously entered high school with an enormous amount of experience. Now, she’s already upgrading many of her routines,” Bauer says. “Juliana is not only an excellent gymnast, but she’s a fierce competitor. She was elected our team captain and works very well with the other gymnasts.”

While she’s seen a good amount of success at an early age, Juliana is always striving to get better on the bars, beam, vault, and the floor. Juliana works hard in an effort to reach her potential as a gymnast.

“I want to continuously improve and reach either a Level 9 or 10 before I’m done,” says Juliana. “I’ve found it to be a great challenge. It wasn’t quite as hard as I anticipated. Adjusting from middle school to here was the big difference.”

In addition to the high school team, Juliana also competes for Flip-Flop Gymnastics both individually and as a member of its team. Last year, she represented Flip-Flop by competing at the Northeast Regionals.

“It’s a constant pretty much for a good part of each year. When you’re not competing, you’re working on routines,” Juliana says. “There’s a constant amount of stretching involved. It’s all about being in condition all the time.”

Juliana feels at home with both of her teams. She’s enjoying the high school experience and looks forward to participating in several more meets throughout the season.

“The environment is nice,” says Juliana. “And the girls I’m competing with and against are great.”

While gymnastics is a physical sport, Juliana knows that the mental aspect is also a key component.

“You can build up mental blocks. I had that when I started vaulting for the high school team,” Juliana says. “Maybe it was the equipment or the height. I’m not sure. It just took a little more time to get comfortable doing it.”

In the spring, Juliana is going to take her shot at a new sport when she tries out for H-K girls’ lacrosse squad. Until then, Coach Bauer looks forward to seeing Juliana continue sharpening her skills as an up-and-coming gymnast.

“Her talent and desire are there,” Bauer says. “As I said, Juliana is a fierce competitor. She will continue to improve. Kids don’t always come in as freshmen with that level of skill.”