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University of Minnesota gymnasts scramble to find new practice space

University of Minnesota gymnastics soon to be without a practice spot
University of Minnesota gymnastics soon to be without a practice spot 02:07

MINNEAPOLIS — It's a journey that's taken all kinds of twists and turns. When the University of Minnesota men's gymnastics program got cut a few years ago, the team continued as a club sport and claimed the national championship this year. 

But fresh off the big win, they're facing another major hurdle. They're losing their practice space in Cooke Hall. 

"What it embodies is the spirit of this program," Minnesota men's gymnastics head coach Mike Burns said. 

After the sport was cut in 2021, coach Burns turned it into a competitive club program. They now have 23 students, which is more than before. 

"What it's doing is providing opportunities to kids who can't make it onto a division one team, but they're just right there. I mean these kids are really good," he said.

But fresh off their national championship win, they learned they will lose their practice space in Cooke Hall, where they have been for about 85 years. 

"It's kind of the last piece we have left of University of Minnesota men's gymnastics. It is this gym," gymnast Charlie Larson said.

According to the University, the space will now be used by the diving team, the Kinesiology department, and other university activities. 

Following a review of the space, the University said, "College and University units take priority over the use of university facilities. In addition, it is important to note that it is not the University's practice to provide dedicated space to student sport clubs, whether designated as a campus life program or a registered student organization."

The team started an online petition in hopes of getting the opportunity to share their concerns with the Board of Regents.

"It's not funded, we get no academic support, and even so, we're recruiting kids to come to their school who get good grades, who are upstanding individuals for them, and we aren't getting anything from them in return," gymnast Owen Frank said.

The changes at Cooke Hall are also displacing the 75 members of the co-ed Minnesota Gymnastics Club. They fear if they have to move to an outside gym that is more costly, the program will fold and be too inaccessible. 

"We've always kind of been the last to hear and the last considered and there are more of us than any other decision-making party here, so I would love it if they could consider our point of view as well," said Jessica Moskalik.

Now, both clubs need a new space and soon. They have to leave Cooke Hall by the end of May. 

"I think there's a way to do it. It's going to take some effort, it's going to take some money and some people who think we have a compelling story and believe in what we do," Coach Burns said.

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