1995 - 1996
Director: Joseph Murray
Best Act: Women’s Triples Balancing - Lizet Christiansen, Christine Redding, and Patricia Padrino
Best Female Trouper: Patricia Padrino
Best Male Trouper: Monty Burton
1995-96 Golden Moments
“Gymkana is about building self esteem, self awareness, and self worth. Abusing drugs and alcohol only works to destroy all those things.”
- Sterling Krauss, 1996 Home Show Program
From the very start it seemed that this year would be special, from the excitement about the Houston trip to the plans for the 50th Anniversary Home Show. The excitement was not relegated to the troupers alone, but was shared by the coaches, and by the alumni.
Proving the old adage, “Once Best Trouper, Always Best Trouper,” Lizet Christensen (1993-94 Best Female Trouper), recovered from the accident in Houston (See 50th Anniversary Foreword) and was able to return to practice and even to performing, especially taking part in Women's Triples Balancing along with Christine Redding and Patricia Padrino. The act went on to win Best Act for the year.
Mother Nature was somewhat unkind. Three of the road shows were canceled due to snow, but the Troupe was still able to have a successful season. In fact, the last road show was a night assembly in Loysburg, Pennsylvania, arranged by Julie (Schwarz) Miller, former trouper and Best Trouper (1981-82), and the Northern Bedford School District. Driving up through the wide open and sparsely populated areas around Loysburg, many a trouper and coach had to wonder if there was going to be much of an audience.
As it turned out, due to the efforts of Julie and her friends in getting the word out, the surrounding community responded and then some. Approximately eight hundred adults and children showed up to sit in a gym that could comfortably hold perhaps five hundred. Kids were sitting on the floor, just inches away from some of the equipment. And what an audience! At the end of the show, they gave the Troupe a standing ovation. A wonderful way to end Gymkana's 50th road show season.
Finally it was time to concentrate all efforts on something that at times had seemed like it would never happen. The University of Maryland Gymkana Troupe's 50th Anniversary Home Show.
In recognition of Gymkana’s longevity and service, it received citations from the Maryland State House and Governor Parris Glendening as well as letters of congratulation from Senator Paul Sarbanes and President Bill Clinton.
For over a year, Chris (Sturek) Miller and a committee of volunteers had taken on the monumental task of planning out the weekend activities to celebrate Gymkana’s 50th. Starting with a reception for incoming alumni on the evening of April 12th at the Holiday Inn in College Park (where many of those coming in from out of town stayed), a brunch the next morning, the alumni party after Home Show, and ending with a picnic for Gymkana members, alumni, and their families on Sunday the 14th.
Alumni came in from across the country to be a part of the celebration.
Friday night arrived. The first Home Show. For the first time in 17 years, vaulting included the fire hoop. Everything went well until the last act, Statuary. First there were problems hooking up the special lighting for the act, then the curtain, which opened to reveal each pose, got caught and would only partially open. Then the announcer gave the wrong introduction for one of the poses. And finally there were miscues for lighting and music. By the time the act was over, many in the audience as well as in the Troupe were laughing, as it seemed like nothing would go right. It certainly was not one of Gymkana’s finer performances.
Saturday night. The big show when most of the alumni would be in the audience. Dr. Murray gave the troupers a calming speech before the show, trying to put aside the mishaps of the night before and move on.The first half went well. During intermission there was a special presentation recognizing the Gymkana alumni in the audience and honoring the efforts of four men in particular for their contributions to the Troupe - Dr. John Burt, Dean of the College of Health and Human Performance, Dr. Steven Smith of M.O.S.T., Gymkana’s first business sponsor, Dr. David A. Field, founder of the Troupe, and Dr. George Kramer, whose efforts over a period of more than forty years have kept the Troupe going.
The second half also progressed well, and all too quickly it was time for the Statuary act once again. Despite the nervousness of everybody involved, coaches and troupers, this night the act went off almost without a hitch, bringing Gymkana’s 50th Anniversary Home Show to a triumphant end.
Mayfield Woods Middle School
Holabird Middle School
Leonardtown Middle School
MD-Missouri Basketball Halftime
General Smallwood Middle School
Easton Middle School
John Stricker Middle School
Bullets vs. Atlanta Basketball Halftime
Patuxent High School
Northern Bedford High School