The 2012 Olympics will remain especially meaningful for two Ursinus women, one of whom performed for visitors to London, and the other a gymnast who cheered on her friend, Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas.
Dana Feigenbaum 2015, a gymnast and Media Studies and Communications major from Hartford, Conn., attended clinics and competitions with Douglas, who trained in Virginia Beach. They became friendly at meets and through their coaches. When Douglas’ team traveled, she would stay with the Feigenbaums, and when the upcoming medalist moved to Iowa for training, they kept in touch with text message, Skype and Twitter.
“It honestly was so crazy to watch her in the Olympics,” said Feigenbaum. “I can’t believe one of my good friends won two gold medals in the Olympics. My sister, who is at sleep-away camp in Maine without a cell phone, keeps writing to us . . . and she is so excited.” Douglas was like an older sister to her sister, Feigenbaum notes, and they have matching friendship bracelets.
“Watching her was an incredible experience and very nerve-wracking,” said Feigenbaum, who said she watched the Olympics live on her computer either at gymnastics practice or home and then watched it again on television. “I give her so much credit for moving away from her family and working so hard to achieve her dreams,” Feigenbaum said. “She was always so supportive and enthusiastic throughout training. It was truly amazing training with someone who was so motivated and helpful to everyone around her.”
Feigenbaum, who trains at New England Gymnastics Express, knows how tough the life of a gymnast can be. Entering high school, she had won on beam at several state championships, and had finished second all-around at the American Flyers Cup. In 2010, Feigenbaum won on bars at the Cancun Classic. She finished third all-around at the IGI Chicago Style meet. At the State Championships, she won on bars and floor exercise, and placed second all-around. She placed fourth all-around at Regionals. In 2011, her season was cut short due to an injury.
Feigenbaum had surgery on her elbow her senior year of high school, so she was not able to compete for Ursinus gymnastics her freshman year. But she has been working hard training and hopes to compete. She is also involved in Best Buddies on campus, a group of students who assist individuals with disabilities.
Another Ursinus student, Colleen Walsh 2014, who is a double major in Exercise and Sport Science and Dance, also competed as a gymnast before coming to Ursinus. She shifted gears when she took her first dance class at Ursinus and fell back in love with the dance she had practiced when she was younger.
While she was studying abroad this summer at the Laban Dance Conservatoire in Creekside, London, students at her school were asked to perform for visitors attending pre-opening ceremony celebrations. The town is where the Olympic torch relay began. She was able to attend one of the preliminary rounds of the men’s gymnastics competition before heading home.
“I’m extremely excited to be dancing so close to the Olympics,” Walsh said earlier this summer. “It’s a dream come true.”
Ursinus has another connection to the 2012 Olympic Games. Tim Murphy, swim coach at Harvard, who was selected to coach the U.S. open water swim team, was head coach of men’s and women’s swimming at Ursinus from 1979 through 1980, as a young West Chester University graduate.