Steigerwalt signs with Michigan
Morgan Steigerwalt (seated) of Jim Thorpe signs a Letter of Intent to attend the University of Michigan on a gymnastics scholarship. Steigerwalt was joined for the signing by her parents Elisa and Geno Steigerwalt.
As a toddler, Morgan Steigerwalt attended a two-week summer camp at the Parkettes National Gymnastics Training Center in Allentown.
The Jim Thorpe native "never wanted to leave" when it was over.
The sport became a huge part of Steigerwalt's life as she continued her training at the Allentown-based training facility over the last 12 years.
Now, the 17-year-old gymnast is taking her love for the sport, along with the skills she learned as a Parkette, to Ann Arbor, Mich.
Last week, Steigerwalt signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Michigan on a full gymnastic scholarship.
"It wasn't a goal that I had when I was younger," said Steigerwalt about competing in gymnastics on the collegiate level, "especially a Division I college. But, the older I got, I kind of realized that's what I wanted to do with myself. It's a great opportunity that we have here with the Parkettes to be able to do something like that."
Steigerwalt also received offers from Penn State University, Arizona State University and the University of Arizona. But, she stated the "U of M" was the perfect fit for her.
"It (the University of Michigan) was the best academically and I liked the team and the coaches the best," said Steigerwalt, who remains undecided on a major. "I think it just stood out to me more than any other school I visited."
Parkette coach Donna Strauss has had the chance to watch plenty of other Parkettes sign letter of intents over the years.
Along with fellow Parkette coaches Heather Moroz, Bill Strauss, John Holman and Robin Netwall, Strauss received another chance last week as Steigerwalt and teammate Annette Miele of Easton both signed with University of Michigan, while Becky Tutka of Upper Black Eddy, Pa., inked with the University of Utah.
"We have had over a hundred gymnasts get scholarships to the college of their choice from the East coast all the way to West coach," said Strauss, who has had the opportunity to watch Steigerwalt progress over the last decade. "They are all getting very good educations, coming out of college with a great degree, and are contributing to our country in many, many different fields.
"We're proud that Morgan is going to be able to continue this tradition we have at the Parkettes and we think she'll have a very strong career, have a tremendous experience with the University of Michigan, and get a great education at the same time."
While Tutka is heading West to join another former Parkette in Lia Del Priore in Salt Lake City, Steigerwalt likes the fact that Miele will be with her away from home.
"I think it's going to make it a lot easier to get used to college and everything," Steigerwalt said. "It's kind of nice with my best friend being there to help me with almost everything. It's going to be good because we're used to being on our team together. So, I think we're going to work well in college."
Strauss couldn't have agreed more with her current Level 10 gymnast, who qualified for the 2009 U.S. Championships and won the 2008 U.S. Challenge as a Senior International Elite gymnast.
"I think it's great for both of them," Strauss said. "This is a very special time in their lives and to have it at a Division I school like Michigan where there's going to be a lot of excitement at their competitions, large attendance at meets, and the benefits that they can take with them the rest of their lives. We're all just encouraging them to take advantage of this wonderful experience.
"I think they'll be able to build off one another too because that's what they have done here. They'll also be able to help one another. Having someone there they know really well, in addition to the rest of their teammates at Michigan, is a nice bonus."