New Milford gymnastics coach Bethany Mihaly has 667 wins and whole lot of fun

NEW MILFORD — Winning at all costs is a concept lost on New Milford girls’ gymnastics coach Bethany Mihaly.

“I love watching the kids succeed, but I want them to realize that gymnastics can be fun. Many of the girls when they get to this age, not all the girls I have coached but maybe about half, have been doing it for so long,” said Mihaly, now in her 34th season. “They are a little burnt out. It doesn’t seem fun anymore. I try to have them remember why they got started doing it in the first place.”

Mihaly hasn’t pushed success aside for the greater good. Her teams have won 8 of the last 10 South-West Conference championships, including two in-a-row. She has compiled a 667-284-2 record.

“I have so many girls new to the team, so the challenge was to meld them together and create a team. They did that,” Mihaly said. “The thing with high school is that you have many levels of gymnasts. A private team has one group of girls and there are certain routines for them. Here there are so many more levels. We have the more seasoned girls help the younger ones. They work together.”

Team success can bring the best gymnasts out. It also brings with it the pressure inherent to the sport.

Said Mihaly “I’ve always considered pressure to be a kind of privilege. It’s fun to watch them realize they are now part of a tradition of excellence. Another of our traditions is, win or lose, to have a good time. Of course, it is more fun to win while you are doing it.”

New Milford captured the Class M title the last time states were held in 2020.

“Not having states last year was hard, so was having SWCs as three meets,” Mihaly said. “The kids didn’t get to interact. That is always an awesome part of any big meet. They’ve known each other so long. When we have a meet against Newtown, my kids and their kids are excited to see each other and catch up. I’m excited that we get to do that this year.”

Emmaline Moore, team captain, and Kristina Polo are seniors.

“Emmaline is the busiest child I’ve seen. She is a master of scheduling and organization. Emmaline makes everything work,” Mihaly said of Moore, who has a 31.57.50 average score in the all-around. “She does theater, so she is in the musical show. She is on our team. She works. She tasks everything in her own space. She is a great girl and certainly will be missed next year.

“Kristina is in her second year with us, so competing wise she is a sophomore. She comes from a soccer background. Because of that, her cross training is different and it is something the kids look forward to. It’s not the same old same old. Kristina is a good leader. She is best at vaulting.”

Regan Williams and Hannah Rainey lead New Milford in the all-around through eight meets (5-3 record).

“Regan is not new to gymnastics, but she is new to our team,” Mihaly said of the freshman with a 34.02 all-around. “Regan, like all of our new girls, has fit right in. She and Kyleigh O’Brien lead the freshmen in the program that are coming up.”

“Hannah is a sophomore and is doing very well,” she said of Rainey (31.62.50 AA). “Leana Ryan is another sophomore. We have a strong group of juniors with Riley Herring, Claire Joffrion and Taormina Amelio. They all have found a place.”

Team strength

Said Mihaly: “We usually do well on floor. High school bars rules are insane. It is hard to come up with a high scoring bar routine. We are doing okay. Balance beam you put numbers in and need to hit when you need to hit.”

Williams (8.96.5 average), Herring (8.92.50), Moore (7.92.50), Joffrion (7.87.50) and Rainey (7.85) lead in floor exercise.

Rainey (8.41.25), Herring (8.38.75), Moore (8.22.50), Williams (8.16.25) and Amelio (7.33.75) are best in vault.

Rainey (8.11.25), Williams (9.92.50) and Moore (7.76.25) pace the team on balance beam.

Leading on bars are Williams (8.8), Rainey (7.6), Moore (7.47.50), Joffrion (7.46.25) and Amelia (5.12.50).

“We try to do a constant upgrading in practice. We work out in a full private gym, Gymnastics Revolution in Danbury,” Mihaly said. “They are flexible with the schedule. Sometimes we don’t get the luxury of pinpointing one event the day after a meet. It’s a give and take.”

Graduation toll

“Last year’s sheet had like eight names on it that aren’t with us. That is quite a loss,” Mihaly said. “Every year we lose people. It is always felt, sometimes more than just one year. Haley Best was SWC all-around champ last year for us as a sophomore. With the level she is at right now, she needed to focus on her other (private) team.”

New Milford will host the league meet. Last year, Herring tied for fifth in vault 8.6, Joffrion tied for fourth on beam 7.8, and Moore tied for sixth on beam 8.45.; @blox354