Jackson Area Gymnastics member Alyssa Budd performs during a home meet last season. Photo by Jeff Steers, JTV Sports.
By Jeff Steers
(November 27, 2022 8:00 AM) A couple of times a year Napoleon High School athlete Alyssa Budd faces her gymnastics teammates on opposite ends of sporting events.
Each time Budd and her teammates from Jackson Area Gymnastics face off, win or lose they shake hands and walk away as friends.
Budd if part of a cooperative of gymnasts from Jackson, Lumen Christi, Napoleon, Grass Lake, Northwest, and Concord.
JAG has enjoyed success finishing eighth in the state in 2022 and winning the first state title in gymnastics in 2021.
“There is no drama on this team,” Budd said of the dozen or so gymnastics on the co-op team.
Budd – who plans to compete in six sports this season including volleyball, basketball, powerlifting, gymnastics, track and field and softball – has been one of the stars on JAG. She has won half a dozen all-state medals over the years including finishing fourth in the floor exercise (9.625), 10th in the vault (9.225), and 10th in the all-around (36.1) in 2022.
Fellow senior Jenna Bradley from Lumen Christi Catholic High School returns after an ACL injury last year. Bradley was a member of the 2021 state championship team.
“I tore my ACL and meniscus in January and had surgery in February,” Bradley said. “I was cleared for full practice in October.
“It has taught me to get back up when you fail and keep going.”
Jackson High School junior Addi Richmond earned a pair of top 10 finishes in the Division 2 state meet last year for JAG. She finished fourth in the beam (9.3) and 10th in the overall (35.375).
“I have been part of the gym – Syd’s Aussie Star Gymnastics Club – since I was three,” Richmond said. “Coach Marcy (Miller) challenges us to do better and try new things.
“We also build on each other as teammates.”
Syd’s Aussie Star Gymnastics Club is the home gym of JAG and most of the gymnasts started there.
Fellow senior Laney Brown from Grass Lake has been a member of JAG for four years. Brown plans to attend Albion College next year to play softball.
“(Gymnastics) is really fun because our team is really good,” Brown said. “The sport teaches you to not do things just for yourself.
“Your whole team defends on you … how can you help the team.”
Other gymnasts who are expected to help JAG is Jackson High School senior Megan Jones and incoming freshmen Madi O’Neal (Lumen Christi) and Kaitlyn Rumsey (Jackson).
JAG is the three-time defending champions in the South Central Gymnastics Conference.
“We would love to do all this again (finish in the top 10 in the state),” Coach Miller said. “The secret is to aim high.”
JAG will have an international look with foreign exchange students from Italy, Switzerland, and Egypt on the team this season.