U of M men’s gymnastics team told to find new training facility 

U of M men’s gymnastics team told to find new training facility

U of M men’s gymnastics team told to find new training facility

The University of Minnesota men’s gymnastics team is once again facing obstacles. The school cut the program in 2021 due to financial challenges during COVID-19, but the team didn’t go away. They now compete nationally as a University club. 

Now the team is faced with another hurdle after they were informed they would need leave their training facility of nearly 90 years at Cooke Hall. 

“It’s a punch in the gut. But at the end of the day, we’re here to stay no matter where we go,” said Justin Lancisi, one of the gymnasts. 

Lancisi says they could be forced to commute off-campus, cutting valuable time out of academic schedules. 

“It’s ideal to be able to walk from class to practice and walk to lunch and walk to my house,” said Lancisi. “I think if I have to sacrifice a couple extra minutes out of my day, it’s worth it to continue to do the sport that I love to do.”

Despite the team’s national championship title and dominant season, in an email, the University says there are several entities “interested in occupying the same space.” It says the other entities would take priority over sports clubs because they are University units — in other words, they’re counted toward college credits. One of those entities includes the Varsity Diving Program, which is an intercollegiate sport. 

However, the email states that student clubs can still schedule space available in a University facility or reserve space unique to their needs off-campus. 

The news comes as the program nearly doubled in size this year. Mark Burns, the head coach of the men’s gymnastics team, says regardless of the outcome of the facility, he is determined to keep the program running.

“I’ve talked to several clubs in the vicinity,” said Burns. “I’ve also talked to some real estate developers, I’ve talked to some people that have spaces that are available, actually found an elementary school over on Como that’s for sale.”

Burns believes University leaders could have been more creative in accommodating for the gymnastics team. 

“The people that are making decisions make an awful lot of money to not be as creative as I’d like them to be,” Burns said. “These guys loved going to school here and being part of the University of Minnesota. I just wish somebody at the University of Minnesota would feel the same way about us.”

As for Lancisi, gymnastics is his life and a way to let off steam during stressful studies. He says it’s important he keeps going for the people that couldn’t four years ago. 

“They didn’t get to finish their careers. I want to create a program that they can be proud of,” said Lancisi.

On Thursday, gymnastics team leaders will meet with the facilities staff at the University to get more clarification on when they need to move out of Cooke Hall.