Gymnast Prescott honored with All-Star status Cornell senior of Chester leaps from gym to future in engineering

High flying Maci Prescott Photo by Jeremy Entner

By Evan Chadwick
©2020 Telegraph Publishing

Chester native and Cornell University senior Maci Prescott has been named a national Senior All-Star by U.S.  Gymnastics in her final year competing for the Cornell Big Red Women‘s gymnastic’s team. With the national meet canceled due to the Covid-19 shutdowns, “U.S. Gymnastics wanted to honor seniors that did not get a chance to compete in their national championship,” says Cornell Gymnastics head coach Paul Beckwith.

The Senior All-Star award was created for the 2020 seniors, most of whom would have qualified for the national meet, which had been scheduled to convene at the Cornell campus in Ithaca, N.Y., on April 9. To be named a Senior All-Star, an athlete needed to have posted one of the Top 10 scores among all seniors for each event.

Prescott’s vault qualified her for the national team when she scored a 9.8 on her last attempt at Rutgers University on March 6. Unbeknown to Prescott and her coaches at the time, Maci’s career best on the vault would also be her last. “It was determined by my coaches and me that — due to my injuries — I was going to perform the vault that I had focused on my freshmen year,” says Prescott. “On the last vault of the day, I stuck it.”

Being named a Senior All-Star has served as the capstone of what has been a storied gymnastics career for Prescott. For the 2018 and 2020 seasons, Prescott was named to the All Eastern College Athletic Conference Second Team. And in each of her four years at Cornell, Prescott was named to the ECAC All-Academic team. All were achieved while pursuing an engineering degree, which Prescott will receive this spring. “It’s unifying to see that the gymnastics community has cared so much about honoring its senior gymnasts,” says Prescott. “Being named a Senior All-Star recognizes all the hard work seniors have put into gymnastics throughout their careers.”

A Vermont childhood filled with gymnastics

Although options are limited for Vermont gymnasts looking to compete at an elite level, Prescott found an early partner in developing her talents at Le Studio, a gymnastics facility in Bellows Falls. “It’s a huge time commitment,” says mom Phillisa Prescott, adding that beyond the six days a week traveling to the studio, there was also a significant financial commitment due to the long distances local gymnasts had to travel to compete. “We as parents put the vehicle in front of Maci but truly all of the commitment came from her. Supporting Maci’s love of gymnastics was one of the best parenting decisions we have made.”

Prescott leaps Photo by Jeremy Entner

Kathy St. Pierre, owner of Le Studio for 36 years before its sale in 2017, was one of the few who coached Prescott throughout her pre-college years. “Maci came to us at age 6 or 7 and stayed with us right through high school,” says S. Pierre. “ As an athlete, Maci could have excelled at any sport she wanted. We were blessed that she chose gymnastics.”

Maci soon developed a reputation in the Le Studio community as a teammate who drove herself as well as her teammates and coaches. “Maci’s abilities pushed me to improve my coaching ability,” says Brian Post, Maci’s team coach at Le Studio. “I was trying to stay one step ahead of her and constantly teaching myself what she needed to learn next. It really was a wonderful part of being her coach.”

Despite Prescott’s drive to constantly improve, she still met Coach Post’s other goal for his athletes: enjoy yourself while training and competing. “Maci was very aware of the people around her and of herself,” says Post. “I tried to reinforce to my athletes that it was important to have fun and, if you’re not having fun, you should do something else. Maci was very good at balancing the work with the fun.”

Walking on to the Cornell team

Maci’s plans to compete for the Cornell Big Red did not solidify until she visited campus her senior year of high school. “At first, I wasn’t looking to compete in college gymnastics,” says Prescott. “It’s a huge time commitment and I wanted to focus on school so I was not sure if I could follow through.”

Fearless, Prescott soars. Photo by Jeremy Entner

Mom Phillisa remembers Maci’s first visit to Cornell where her younger sister, Avery, convinced her Maci that she had the talent to compete at the Division 1 level. “Maci was thinking about competing at the club level at Cornell,” says Phillisa. “When Maci went to the club team’s gym to workout, her sister came up to her and made it clear that she was working out for the wrong team.”

Although Coach Beckwith, who had never had a Vermonter on any of his Cornell teams before, was not very familiar with Prescott when she first came to campus, it did not take Maci long to convince Beckwith and his staff that she was ready to compete.

“Maci was a walk-on. She called and said she was coming to Cornell and wanted to see if she could be on the team and if we would let her give it a try,” said Beckwith. “We did, and it worked out fabulously. After about a week, she was ready to roll.”

There were many highlights inPrescott’s four years as a Cornell gymnast, including a 2nd Place finish in the ECAC team championship in 2017. However, what Prescott will remember the most is how her team rallied around each other when news broke that the 2020 season would be cut short due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“No one saw it coming and that was the hardest part,” says Prescott. “There were a lot of tears and hugs, it was chaos just enjoying our last moments in the gym together. It showed how my team was there and always will be there for me. There was no place I would have rather been.”

Beyond gymnastics

As an engineer, Prescott will be working for Emerson Electric. Photo by Jeremy Entner

With Prescott, now 21, finishing her final Cornell classes at her parents’ Chester residence, Prescott is now looking forward to her future as an engineer. She has accepted a position with Emerson Electrical Co. where she will be working in New Jersey for a year, before traveling abroad to Singapore to work at a different branch of the company.

Although there are plenty of experiences awaiting Prescott, she will always look at gymnastics as providing the foundation for her learning many of life’s important lessons, ones that she feels other young Vermont gymnasts can benefit from.

“A lot of gymnastics comes from self-motivation,” says Prescott. “Vermont is not a huge gymnastics state, it’s a smaller, close-knit community, but everyone is there because they want to be. On days it is hard, you push yourself. And knowing why you love the sport will get you through those tough days.”

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About the Author: Originally from Rochester, Vermont, Evan Chadwick is a practicing attorney who lives in Brattleboro with his family. He is a 2007 graduate of Keene State College and a former varsity basketball coach for Bellows Falls Union High School.

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  1. Betty Mc Enaney says:

    One talented lady! Be proud!!

  2. John Holme says:

    I know Maci’s parents. They must be very proud of her. I remember meeting Maci when she was in high school & her telling me she was going to go to Cornell. Congratulations Maci and best of luck to you.