Wednesday , September 23 2020

Gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University dies after fall during training


Melanie Coleman fell during a "routine training exercise" on uneven bars, Ken Slaven, a spokesman for the state of Southern Connecticut, told CNN on Monday.

"At the time, our thoughts and prayers were with Melanie's family," said university director Jayay Moran. "This was devastating for her coaches and teammates and we hope to support them in this very difficult time."

Coleman's longtime personal trainer, Thomas Alberti, called the incident "a total disaster" on Monday. "It's just not something anyone can process."

Coleman, 20, pursued a degree in nursing. He also taught part-time at Alberti's gym, New Era Gymnastics.

"I was her regular coach for 10 years," Alberti said. “She has always been a leader in my gym. She was the leader everyone was looking for. "

Alberti said Coleman taught gymnastics at all levels of students, from 2-year-olds to 15-year-olds. He described it as dedicated, with a pure love for the sport. "She had a desire to help everyone around her."

Coleman comes from a family of gymnasts. Her mother competed, as did her two older sisters.

"It was not about trying to get a better result," he said.

"What made her a great gymnast is also what made her a great person," Alberti added. He said Coleman modeled "love for whatever you dream of doing and giving it back to the people around you."

Jerry Nelson, a recently retired former head coach of Southern Connecticut Gymnastics, also praised Coleman's commitment to others.

"Melania was an outstanding young lady who welcomed everyone she knew," Nelson said in a statement. "Melania was a real team player, a hard worker and a real pleasure to coach. I'm very grateful to have been able to coach her."

In a statement Monday, the university directed the GoFundMe site set up over the weekend to raise money for Coleman's family. The site raised more than $ 45,000 from nearly 1,000 donors as of Monday night.
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