ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Chargers excited about prospects

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By Dan Johnson

Three years ago when Tara Emily took over the Chatfield gymnastics program, things were in dire shape.

Hired just two weeks before the start of the season, Emily didn’t even have enough girls to field a team.

“We were literally begging people off the street to join the team,” said Emily, somewhat joking, who said that just nine girls were on the team in 2006.

But, after a stressful beginning to her coaching career, Emily saw a positive turn in the program’s momentum in 2007, as her numbers nearly doubled with 17 girls making the team.

The extra depth certainly helped, as the Chargers placed fifth in the Class 5A state gymnastics meet.

With another 17 girls lined up for 2008, optimism is certainly high at Chatfield – if they can stay healthy.

“We have a lot of experienced girls back,” said Emily, who credits her work as a coach at the Lilley Gulch Foothills facility as helping bolster the Chargers’ roster. “We’re working through some injuries right now, but we should have everyone available at some point this season.”

One of her injured gymnasts, Jordyn Lewis, fractured her back but was on the mats Aug. 28 when the Chargers took on Standley Lake.

“She did really well,” Emily said of Lewis. “But it scares me watching her.”

Other experienced gymnasts back are: Sydney Smiley, Alicia Rocchio and Taylor Hanburg. All four girls compete in all the major disciplines, giving the Chargers plenty of depth at each event.

With perennial Jefferson County League favorites Bear Creek and Green Mountain a little down this year, this could be the year the Chargers climb into the driver’s seat.

A big change from a couple of years ago when fielding a team, much less competing for a league title, seemed like a pipe dream.