Western senior gymnast Corinna Cottingham’s memory is pretty fuzzy about when she first started working with Panther coach Margie Lea. It’s understandable.
“I started [gymnastics] when I was 18 months old,” Cottingham said of her first day at Kokomotion, with Lea as the instructor. “She was my very first coach ever, and now she’s my last coach.”
Lea remembers though.
“Oh, I remember her in diapers, I remember that,” Lea said. “She was in a little mommy-and-me class. She was real tiny and she still is to this day. I put her in the classes and she grew.
“I had a class of kids that were little hotshot kids,” Lea said, noting former Western gymnasts Casey Herr, Jessie Meeks and Whitney Worl were also there. “They were all in that little group.”
Fast-forward to today and Cottingham, the last of that group, is preparing for her third and final state meet. The senior qualified for the all-around competition at Saturday’s IHSAA State Finals in Muncie. The opening ceremonies are at 12:30 p.m. with competition starting at 1.
Cottingham made the all-around competition at state as a sophomore and a junior so she’s calm heading into her final high school meet.
“It’s not a lot of pressure, at least for me,” she said. “I’m more there to have fun. The girls there are extremely good and it’s great to know I’m there with those girls, competing against them. A lot of them I’ve competed against before in club meets when we were all younger. It’s nice to see how far we’ve traveled over the years.”
The state meet is a celebration as much as anything.
“It’s so much fun,” Cottingham said. “Everybody there in gymnastics cheers everybody on, it doesn’t matter what school you go to, if you have a team or [are competing] alone. Everybody is there to cheer everybody on, and that’s the best part of it.”