Beam, Balance, and Blast

Edison Gymnasts Earn Acrobatic Glory



Haley Zampella ‘23 right before her second tumbling pass at Piscataway High School performance.

Haley Zampella ‘23 and Emili Horike ‘25, Edison High School’s award-winning gymnasts, finished the season with a successful showing. 

The stellar duo competed as independents (Edison High has no team) in the Greater Middlesex Conference Championship (GMCs) at South Brunswick, North II State Sectionals at Hillsborough, and NJSIAA Individual Championships at Brick Memorial. They are coached by Mrs. Leanne Salvatore, a teacher at Lindeneau Elementary, and they participate in private clubs as well.

“It’s really awesome for them to come in as independents and perform the way that they do since they don’t have a team to cheer them on, they don’t have that camaraderie,” said Salvatore. “It’s really amazing how well they do even though they don’t have an actual team to back them up.”

Zampella herself was feeling a mix of nostalgia and appreciation as her senior year closes.

“It felt pretty good this year. It being my senior year, I didn’t want it to be that bad,” said Zampella. “Having another teammate with me was really helpful because it brought a little bit more team atmosphere to a sport that’s really individual.”

At the GMCs, held on Saturday, October 15, at South Brunswick High School, Zampella and Horike showed their gymnastics prowess with strong performances in a competitive field. Zampella placed second in vault (9.6), second all-around (37.85), and first in beam (9.675). Horike placed second in the beam (9.6), only trailing Zampella by a margin of 0.075.

It’s really amazing how well they do even though they don’t have an actual team to back them up.

— Mrs. Leanne Salvatore

At the NJSIAA North II Sectional Championship, held on Saturday, November 5, at Hillsborough High School, Zampella placed first in beam (9.525), second in vault (9.65), and third in the floor (9.6) and all-around (37.8), winning the sectional title. 

At the NJSIAA Individual Championships, held on Saturday, November 12, at Brick Memorial High School, Zampella placed fourth in beam (9.6) and placed within the top ten in bars as well.

Zampella was named to the All-State Gymnastics First Team and received the GMC All-Conference Beam award. Horike received the GMC All-Conference At Large award. 

It’s very physical on your body, so you have to take each day as, what can my body handle today?

— Haley Zampella ‘23

However, the gymnasts had to overcome both mental and physical challenges to achieve their well-deserved results.  

“I’m in the gym Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday—so it’s four hours during the week and then five hours on Saturday,” said Zampella. “It’s very physical on your body, so you have to take each day as, what can my body handle today?” 

“They not only go to their high school practice but also need to attend their regular club practice as well. They’re at the gym four hours, four to five hours a day as it is with their club, so that would be a pretty long day and a lot of hours,” Salvatore said of the athletes.

“And it’s also mental,” Zampella added. “Gymnastics is more mental than physical because your body knows how to do it. It’s just whether or not you think you can do it, so when you’re having those mental days at practice, you have to take a step back and be like, today’s not my day but I have tomorrow. So when you go in tomorrow, you have a new fresh mind and can be like, ‘I can do it.’” 

Zampella is committed to Northern Illinois University, where she plans on continuing her gymnastics career. 

A previous edition of this article said Zampella and Horike competed under the East Brunswick gymnastics team instead of independents, and it was corrected on February 7.