Members of the Patchogue-Medford gymnastic squad pose for a photo...

Members of the Patchogue-Medford gymnastic squad pose for a photo in between events in the Suffolk high school girls gymnastic coaches invitational meet, Saturday, October 28, 2023 at William T. Rodgers Elementary school in Kings Park. Credit: George A Faella

The Kings Park Middle School gymnasium was covered in green on Saturday.

The gymnasts were wearing green bows and face paint to honor the victims of the Farmingdale High School marching band bus crash at the  Suffolk County girls gymnastics Coaches Invitational, a meet that holds a much deeper meaning than most.

“We come together every year to fundraise for something important in our lives or something that happened within our community,” said Melissa Valentino, the Middle Country varsity gymnastics head coach and Section XI Coaches Association President.

The Sept. 21 crash killed the school's marching band director, Gina Pellettiere, 43, and chaperone Beatrice Ferrari, 77, and injured dozens of students.

“This is a very close cause that we’re raising money for, so it means a lot to us to be able to do something good for the community and help out those families,” Kings Park head coach Kaitlyn Finnin said.

Each of the seventeen teams in attendance was asked to donate $5 per gymnast.   The proceeds from the concession sales and raffle tickets will be donated to the “Expenses of the Victims of Farmingdale HS Bus Crash,” a GoFundMe page set up to help the victims and their families. The funds will be used for hospital bills, funeral expenses, therapy, travel, food and damaged items. 

“We all compete against each other, but we’re also all able to come together as a community when we need to,” Valentino said.  “It shows that these teams aren’t just made up of amazing athletes, but important members of the community.”

On the mat, Brianna Treminio of North Babylon scored a 7.350 on vault, 7.400 on uneven bars, 8.675 on the beam and a 9.250 on floor to finish first with an overall score of 32.675.

Emily Schwan of Commack finished second overall (31.850) with 7.900 on vault, 6.950 on bars, 8.750 on beam and 8.250 on floor

Daniella DeVito of Middle Country placed first on vault with a 8.175, and Kaylie Rothaar of Middle Country scored an 8.100, placing first on uneven bars. Alyssa Hayes of Smithtown scored a 9.200 on floor

This meet is also special because it’s an opportunity for the gymnasts who will not be competing in the Section XI County Championships next week to showcase their talents.

“There are about 150 girls who are on a Suffolk County gymnastics team, but not every girl gets to compete,” Finnin said. “So this is a really nice meet because those who usually don’t get that chance are able get exposure on all of the events.”

The top six scorers from each league in each of the four events were awarded, as well as the top three overall scorers from each league.

“It’s nice because they really get their chance to shine and have that feeling of standing on the podium and walking away with a ribbon,” Valentino said. “It shows them that their hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.”

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