Rachel Powers Daily with her daughters Daisy, 9, and Idalence, 4, at an off-island gymnastics competition.
Courtesy of Rachel Powers Daily
(June 23, 2022) Thirty years ago at the age of 5, Rachel Powers Daily began flying from Nantucket to Cape Cod three days a week for gymnastics practice and eventually started making the trek by herself at just 6 years old.
That training led Powers Daily to reach the top of the Vermont high school gymnastics world when her family moved to South Burlington.
Those achievements were recognized by the Vermont Principals’ Association last month when she was inducted into the organization’s Sports Hall of Fame.
“It was incredibly amazing to be honored and recognized and to be able to celebrate the accomplishments of myself as well as all of the other inductees,” Powers Daily said.
The Nantucket native won the state all-around title three straight years after coming up just one-tenth of a point shy of the championship her freshman year.
She was also recognized as an athlete of the week by the The Burlington Free Press all four years in high school and qualified for the USA Gymnastics all-regional team during her freshman and sophomore years.
Lori Bergquist started coaching Powers Daily when she was about 10-years old and continued to do so through her high school career. Bergquist nominated her for the hall of fame honor because the gymnast stood out from the pack inside and outside of competition.
“She always had such a great attitude, I loved that about Rachel,” Bergquist said. “She was always Encouragement to the other girls and her level of gymnastics was very, very high. She did some of the most difficult moves that any high schooler or any gymnast in Vermont ever did.”
Bergquist said Powers Daily was among the top five hardest workers the coach worked with during her 22 years of owning a gymnastics school in Winooski, Vermont.
“She was always willing to put in the extra mile and always willing to do the extra backhand spring, do the extra pull ups, leg lifts, conditioning. Sometimes you had to chase her out of the gym,” Bergquist said.
While a back injury cut short her college career, Powers Daily remains involved with the sport through training her own daughters and other competitive gymnasts during the summer months.
“Gymnastics taught me so much more than the sport itself,” Powers Daily said. “It played such a large role in shaping me into the person I am today and it just gave me so much confidence, strength and dedication and the ability to push myself to the limit.”
When she first started flying off-island for gymnastics, Powers Daily said her parents Karen Alence and Frank would take turns joining her but eventually she flew on her own.
Elaine Collins would pick her up on the other side, with Collins and her family becoming like family to the gymnast as she would sleep over on Friday nights in order to attend practice on Saturday up until Powers Daily moved to Vermont after eighth grade.
“It taught me to be independent and strong on my own and I did that from such a young age, and it’s crazy now that I look back at it,” Powers Daily said. “I remember all of the workers who would fly to and from the island. As a young child they would always keep an eye out for me and say like, ‘Oh you come with me’ as we were walking onto the plane.”
Following her high school career Powers Daily attended Rhode Island College where she graduated with a degree in nursing. She was a member of the school’s gymnastics team as a freshman but could not compete further after suffering from herniated discs from the years of wear and tear of gymnastics training.
“It really was a hard moment in my life because gymnastics was such a part of my life,” Powers Daily said. “I used to live by the motto ‘Gymnastics is life, the rest is just details,’ and it was really hard for me.”
Powers Daily got her start in coaching at a young age as an assistant at the gyms where she trained, starting at about 12 years old.
Today the 35-year-old property manager and stay-at-home mother of three daughters also works as a personal trainer, helping competitive gymnasts who spend their summers on-island.
“I’m so thankful now to be able to still be involved in the sport of gymnastics and that’s why I do it because I love the sport so much and what it can give to up-and-rising athletes,” Powers Daily said.
Bergquist’s coaching is something that Powers Daily draws on still to this day, letting her daughters know how proud she is of them after every session just as her coach would tell her as a young gymnast.