ANDOVER — The Masschusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association (MIAA) recently decided to do away with boys gymnastics as a varsity sport after this year.
After listening to Joseph Aronov, it may want to reconsider.
If Aranov were more vocal, the Andover High freshman could probably be a poster boy for his dying sport.
Or Aronov could be a spokesman for anyone who doubts the value of participating in high school sports.
As an eighth grader, life started spiraling down for Aronov when his mother, Irina, succumbed to a three-year battle with cancer, leaving him periodically depressed.
By the beginning of his freshman year, Aronov was feeling unattached. He had given up on gymnastics, which was his passion as a youngster, and he lacked interest in his school work, which was evident by his bad grades.
With his older brother, Daniel, in his second year at Oxford University and his father not getting home most days until 9 p.m. from his electrical engineering job in New Hampshire, an often depressed Aronov spent too of his time alone at his home in the Ballardvalle section of Andover.
“I was feeling alone and it wasn’t a good time for me,” said Aronov. “I spent most of my time by myself in front of a computer. My friends were out doing sports.”
By mid-fall, while in “a major funk,” a meeting with his guidance counselor, Lauri Carrick, over his falling grades and slipping self-esteem changed everything. When she heard about his background in gymnastics, she encouraged him to get back into the sport, to get out of the house and be active like most of his classmates.
Carrick contacted Andover High gymnastics coach Steve Sirois.
“It sounded like a good solution for him,” said Sirois. “I called Joseph and his father about it and they said they had no way to get to practice and it would be too complicated. I told them not to worry about it, that we’d figure something out.”