Sports Person of the Week
Cataldo Has an All-Around Good Time with the Tigers
Kayla Cataldo has contributed for the Hand gymnastics team in all four events throughout her high school career, leading the Tigers as a captain in each of the past two seasons. (Photo courtesy of Kayla Cataldo )
Kayla Cataldo has been one of the top performers on the Hand gymnastics team for the past four years. A senior captain, Kayla solidified a spot on the All-SCC Team last season and has earned Academic All-American honors three times thus far for the Tigers.
Beyond the victories and accolades, Kayla cherishes the memories that she’s created with her teammates. Kayla and her fellow Tigers have some developed excellent chemistry while dealing with the ups and downs of life as a gymnast.
“One of my favorite moments is not necessarily winning a meet, but instead, we have a tradition of posting wipeouts on Wednesdays for our Instagram,” says Kayla. “My favorite moment was being featured for my infamous fall off of bars. It gave my teammates and I a scare, but a good laugh in the end.”
Kayla is in her second season as one of Hand’s captains after serving in that role as a junior last year. In addition to making All-SCC and Academic All-American, Kayla also earned a spot on the New Haven Register All-Area Team for her performance in her junior season. In her most-recent meet, Kayla took third place on the floor with a score of 8.4 to help the Tigers defeat Foran to improve to 3-1 for the 2021 campaign.
Head Coach Kelly Smith praises Kayla for her ability to compete at a high level in every event.
“Kayla has been an all-around contributor for four years and a captain for two. She has proven to be a consistent and clean competitor and someone we can always count on to be healthy and ready to go,” Smith says. “Kayla is especially strong for us on floor and has flourished in her latest routine that encompassed her personality and dancing abilities perfectly. Her floor performance at SCCs last year garnered her All-SCC honors, and her overall contributions to our team led to her being named to the New Haven Register All-Area Gymnastics Team.”
Kayla started participating in gymnastics eight years ago following a short stint as a cheerleader. There were several aspects of cheerleading that Kayla enjoyed, and she decided to put some of the skills that she learned through that sport to good use on the gymnastics mat.
“Although I really enjoyed cheer, I loved the tumbling aspects of sport and decided to carry out that interest through gymnastics,” Kayla says. “My favorite aspect of gymnastics is being part of a team, while still being able to accomplish my individual goals. Gymnastics is a very mentally challenging sport. That being said, not only do I have to gain strength physically to improve my game, but also mentally. I have simply learned how to fail and keep trying.”
One of Kayla’s best attributes as a captain is her work ethic. Coach Smith says that Kayla’s positive attitude permeates through the Tigers and plays a big role in helping the team achieve quality results.
“Kayla leads our team by working hard, having a positive attitude, always showing up, and never complaining. She never fails to bring a bright smile and laughter to our team, all while getting it done in the gym,” Smith says. “Kayla gets along with everyone and is known for her love of hugs. While her gymnastics will be something that’s difficult to replace next year, her positivity in the gym is second to none, and that will be impossible to replace.”
Kayla also competes for the girls’ lacrosse team at Hand. When she isn’t playing sports, Kayla takes part in a variety of hobbies that include hiking, boating, shopping, and walking on the beach.
It means a lot to Kayla that she’s been able to lead Hand gymnastics as a captain the last two years. Kayla wants to help the Tigers finish the season strong and perform their best at the Southern Connecticut Conference Virtual Championship.
“I am very proud to be named one of the captains of the gymnastics team for the past two years. It has definitely been the highlight of my high school years to spend time with such a great group of girls,” says Kayla. “I am also very thankful that the gymnastics team was able to have a season this year. Our plan for the rest of the season is to stay healthy and bring our best to the SCC Championship.”