The Western women’s gymnastics club made its debut in the mid-1930s, and by the 1960s, the sport had achieved invitational status. In the 1970s, the women’s gymnastics team was coached by Bob Vigars, followed by Gerri Tannis and Bonnie Bennett. In 1976, gymnastics was dropped from national competition because only three regional organizations supported competition.
Western’s gymnastics team had a number of part-time coaches in the 1980s and the 1990s - Bill Rhoads, Colleen Magennis, Nicole Jambroise, Nancy Irons Murray, Lisa Berger, Christine Murray and Ildiko Hattayer. It was a difficult time for gymnastics, as many universities were leaving the league.
Despite these difficulties, in the 1985-86 season the Western team came in first place at the Ontario Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Association (OWIAA) championship and sixth place in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU) team competition under the guidance of coach Nancy Irons Murray. Between 1985 and 1987, the women’s gymnastics team placed first at an OWIAA team championship and won a total of eight OWIAA medals. Nancy Fletcher brought home Western’s first gymnastic gold medal at the CIAU in 1986.
In the 1987-88 season, the team found itself without a coach for a month and therefore were unable to train. After coach Laura Berger stepped in to organize the team, more than half of the nine team members qualified for the OWIAA finals. Nancy Fletcher won fourth place in the All-Around-Competition and was one of two gymnasts that qualified for all event finals. Fletcher and fellow gymnast, Kim Sokolowski qualified for the national championships but the funds required for them to attend the event in Calgary were unavailable.
In 1994, gymnastics was removed from the OWIAA, possibly due to league rules that dictated that a lack of participation – defined as less than four universities competing in a sport - would result in its cancelation.
For a history of men's gymnastics click here.