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"You can have the best equipment in the world," gymnast Brian Eisenberg said, "but it will just rot without a coach." And so the future of gymnastics at Harvard may be determined this Monday when the Faculty Committee on Athletics decides whether to allocate funds for a coach next year.
The Harvard Gymnastics Club would have died a long time ago if it were not for the enthusiasm of about ten students who have been working out on their own on the top floor of the Hemenway gym.
An excellent example is the case of Kevin Bein '70. Bein had been active in high-school gymnastics in his senior year, and he decided to come to Harvard despite its lack of facilities. As a freshman, he worked out on his own in the IAB until the rings he was swinging on broke.
Last year he went down to M.I.T. in the afternoons because it was the only place where he could find coaching. But over the summer Harvard purchased $2500 worth of equipment, and now Bein and Eisenberg have decided to try and do the best they can.
"This is ludicrous. The club now has facilities but no instruction and no room to use the equipment," Bain said.
Bein must practice horizontal bar dismounts that have never been explained to him, and if he tried to do them correctly he would fly into a wall.
Gymnastics is an extremely dangerous sport when a student does not know what he is supposed to be doing. None of the club members is willing to try dangerous routines on the horizontal bar or rings because there are no experienced spotters to break a fall.
Eisenberg emphasized that "gymnastics is the most artistic sport." A coach is essential because any routine or movement requires so much agility, coordination, and skill, he said. Now the gymnasts can only practice feats solely dependent upon strength.
"I learned everything I know at M.I.T.," Bein said. "Brian is our only good ringman, but he was a good ringman before he came here."
Another major goal of the squad is to involve Radcliffe girls in the four gymnastic events for women. Seven or eight girls already have expressed an interest, but Radcliffe refuses to let the girls participate until Harvard supplies a trained coach.
The future of Harvard gymnastics looks far better than its past. Eisenberg and Bein plan to compete next year with or without a coach.
Dartmouth's gymnasts already have varsity status, and Yale and Cornell also will be competing on a varsity basis next year. Harvard's club will either enter as a team or as individuals depending on the results of Monday's meeting.
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