Success measured by different standards for Uggucioni and Larouche
by Randy Pascal
The first two qualifiers of the Women's Artistic Gymnastics season would leave the majority of the teens representing the Sudbury Laurels
more than happy with their early season performances.
Few, however, were more thrilled than the tandem of Yasmine Larouche and Rachel Uguccioni.
A grade seven student at Ecole Secondaire Macdonald-Cartier, Larouche is making her first foray into the provincial level circuit, gradually
demonstrating the type of progression that coaches and athletes yearn for in their rookie season.
“I think I did really well for my second qualifier,” suggested Larouche. “On my first qualifier, I could have done a little better, but it was still
good. In the second one, I felt more confident. The first one was my first qualifier ever, so I was a little nervous.”
In the end, it was more than just a “feeling” regarding an improved showing. The numbers would speak for themselves. “In my second qualifier, my goal
was to hit 36 (overall aggregate score), and I did it,” said Larouche. “The little details were better – pointed toes, crossed legs. And in my round off
back tuck for my dismount (on beam), I felt like I got more height.”
A few years older and currently in grade ten at St Charles College, Rachel Uggucioni has walked the path that Larouche is about to travel.
Therein lies a learning curve that builds by virtue of both successes and failures.
“I'm a lot different gymnast than I was three years ago,” said Uggucioni, now 15 years old. “I'm a lot more consistent now. I've definitely grown and
have more confidence, and I have a lot of new skills. I find I am better at performing at competitions, compared to when I was younger. I got rid of a lot
of the nerves.”
“The older I get, I think my mindset improves,” added Uggucioni. “I am more ready to attack competitions and I'm more mentally tough, ready to try new
skills, to go for things that I would have backed down from before.”
Certainly, there is a comfort that comes from the familiarity of tackling Level 8 competitions for a third year, all with an eye on making the jump to
Level 9 for 2019-2020. “This has been a really good year for me,” said Uggucioni. “Even just in practice, I've been working harder, I feel more motivated.”
And ironically, part of that motivation comes from a set of new faces that are part of the package as the well-spoken young women steps into the gym,
multiple times per week, for the rigours of her training regimen.
“A lot of girls retired last year, so we've gotten a lot of new girls in our group,” noted Uggucioni. “But it's been nice for me and some of the other
senior athletes to kind of introduce them to the group, show them what it's like to be at this level. We all work so well together and definitely push each
other to become better.”
In the end, she is learning to heed some of her own advice, words of wisdom that she has passed along to those who are experiencing the ebbs and flows
that will so often accompany testing yourself against this particular caliber of opponents for the very first time.
“You're not necessarily facing these other girls head on,” she said. “Competition is about you and your own improvement, trying to push yourself to be
better.” That will be the primary goal as Uggucioni, Larouche and the balance of the Laurels provincial team competes at the all-Ontario championships in