Nham, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When senior Christina Postiglione was in middle school and high school, she had her heart set on Penn State. She knew that she wanted to be a collegiate gymnast as well as a Nittany Lion, so when she was offered a full-ride to attend school in Happy Valley, she accepted the offer without thinking twice about it.
"I'm from New York and my dream was always to get a full-ride to a big school, I always had my eye on Penn State," Postiglione said. "I came to the camps and I just fell in love with it and the atmosphere. When I was offered [a scholarship], I didn't hesitate to say yes."
However, Postiglione's time on the women's gymnastics team hasn't been typical. She injured a knee in high school and had surgery, but then, when she came to Penn State, her surgery had to be redone. This set her back a whole year as she did not officially compete during her freshman season.
The 5'0 gymnast officially competed for the first time on February 21, 2015, her sophomore year against then-No. 24 Michigan State. She was able to compete on the uneven bars and balance beam in eight of the team's 12 meets that season, including the NCAA Regional Championships. Her career-high on uneven bar was 9.825 in the Big Ten Championships and on balance beam, she earned a 9.850 against West Virginia.
"My first time competing my sophomore year, it was exhilarating," Postiglione said. "The adrenaline that you feel and just the joy and happiness that you get out of accomplishing your goals and putting up a good score for your team, it's just an amazing feeling."
"I've had multiple ACL years, which has been pretty hard, but I have come back from three ACL tears, and I just tore it for the fourth time, which is leaning me to retire, but I wouldn't have changed my experience [at Penn State] for anything," Postiglione said. "It has taught me how to be strong mentally within the sport, and that's a big aspect of gymnastics, so it's been pretty cool."
Even though Postiglione isn't putting chalk on her hands to perform on the uneven bars or practicing for the beam, she has taken a new role on the team - the supporter.
"She's grown a lot since her first year," interim co-head coach Kera Molinaro said. "Everyone looks to Tina. I would say, she has sort of like a motherly role on the team. Everyone knows that, at any point, they can go to her for support and she's so inspirational to everyone. She cheers all the time and she gives you a big smile and a hug when you need it, so I think all the girls feel like they have so much support from her."
Her most valuable lesson though is not about skills nor practicing; it's about having fun.
"I choose psychology because I interact with people very well," Postiglione said. "I actually came in as a kinesiology major and wanted to do physical therapy. After my first semester, I was like, 'Yup. That's definitely not for me.' I like how I interacted with people and I want to be a sport psychologist in the future. I just fell in love with it, and now it's my new passion. After graduation, I plan on going to graduate school for sports psychology and then later down the road getting my doctorate."
Last Saturday evening, Postiglione attended her last meet at Rec Hall, and it was something she will never forget.
"It's been absolutely amazing," Postiglione said. "It's really bittersweet that it's almost over, but I've enjoyed every second of it...[I'm going to miss] the crowd's energy and Penn State pride in Rec Hall the most. I'm going to miss that so much and just being on the floor."
Nonetheless, there are memories at Penn State that Postiglione will carry forever.
"My personal favorite time at Penn State would probably be competing beam," Postiglione said. "I love beam so much and that's my favorite event. Probably just looking back at Penn State and feeling that feeling of knowing that you just hit a really good routine, that's probably the best experience of my life."