What’s on Tap?

Home opener serves as tribute to Coleman

Sam Tapper – Sports Writer

Just over two months since the tragic and untimely death of junior gymnast Melanie Coleman, the Owls’ gymnastics team took the mats at Moore Field House once again.

Sunday’s home opener for the Owls was dedicated as ‘Melanie Coleman Day.’ The team competed in her honor as they hosted the College of Brockport, Springfield College and Cornell University.

As warm-ups concluded and the four teams were introduced, the Owls came out last, with “MC” painted on their backs, followed by a moment of silence held in Coleman’s honor. All eyes were locked on the banner reading “Fly High, Melanie” signed by all her teammates dangling over the mats along with the leotard she once wore, both of which will travel with the team going forward.

Following the moment of silence, the Owls’ voices echoed through the gym as they shouted: “One clap for Mel!” In addition to the banners and face paint, the Owls had a stuffed animal which will also travel with them.

“The owl is a stuffed animal from one of the universities’ gymnastics teams that sent it to us,” said senior captain Isabella Antonangeli. “It meant a lot; it was one of our most cherished gifts. And to us, we literally call her a ‘Mini Mel,’ just because it’s supporting us, so we’ve got to bring her because we would bring Mel.”

Following the opening tribute, the meet proceeded as normal. Southern finished in second behind Cornell, with team results of 47.875 on vault, 45.525 on bars, 46.900 on beam, 46.725 on the floor and an all-around score of 187.025.

When the Owls competed on the beam, they each paid their own little tribute to Coleman. Each of them would “hit the ‘woah’” after, which is a dance move Coleman would always do.

“It was one of her favorite dance moves,” said Antonangeli. “You’d look at Mel and you’d see she’d hit the woah and we were like ‘Okay, Mel.’ It was a classic move that she did.”

At the conclusion of the competition, the four teams gathered together for a video honoring Melanie, consisting of a montage of photos of her with her friends, family and teammates, depicting the love so many say she had for the sport, those around her and, above all, life.

“She was not only a teammate, she was a sister,” Antonangeli said. “Being able to come here and support her, she saw how many people cared about her and loved her. I think it was a good day.”

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