Erin Lynch Fender, a member of Rutgers gymnastics from 2003-06, died from cervical cancer. Fender competed in vault, balance beam and floor for the Scarlet Knights, where she scored highs of 9.775 on floor and 9.575 on vault.
"Erin was an amazing individual. From the first time I met her in the recruiting process I knew she would be a perfect fit for our RU gymnastics family," said former head coach Chrystal Chollet-Norton. Fender was active in the Rutgers community, where she gave support to current Knights gymnasts.
"Her love for Rutgers gymnastics and her teammates were unprecedented. She always had a smiling face for everyone. Her pure joy and enthusiasm for life will be what her teammates will always remember. She will be missed but not forgotten," Chollet-Norton said.
Fender started her gymnastics journey at 3 years old with Atlantic Coast Gymnastics and began competing at 7 years old. At 17, she had reached level 10 and earned a scholarship to compete with Rutgers.
"Erin always had a passion for the sport of gymnastics that showed through in the athletes she coached. Her presence and support will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to Erin's husband Matt Fender and her family," said current head gymnastics coach Umme Salim-Beasley.
Before her time on the Banks, Fender competed with the Flyers' Academy, where she won state championships in 1997 and 2002. Fender was also the captain of Clearview Regional's soccer team from 1999-2001.
After graduating from Livingston College with a degree in sport management in 2006, Fender returned to Atlantic Coast Gymnastics as an Optional Team Coach, where she helped train young gymnasts. Along with coaching, Fender once again competed with the gym’s level 10 team.
This season, the Knights will wear teal ribbons with Fender’s initials on them to honor her and bring awareness to cervical cancer. After each home competition, a Rutgers gymnast will receive the Erin Lynch Award for courage and inspiration.
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