Melanie Coleman’s organs will be donated after she died following a freak gymnastics accident over the weekend, her family said.
In a statement to WTNH, Coleman’s family said, “We are confident that her spirit, laughter, and humor will live on through the ones who loved her most, as well as through the gift of life to those who needed it most through organ donation.”
“We are humbled by the outpouring of support from our Milford community (our small town with a big heart) and beyond,” the family added. “She will be sadly and deeply missed by all those who crossed paths with her. The family asks for privacy during this time of healing.”
Coleman, a junior on Southern Connecticut State University’s gymnastics team, was training on Friday, Nov. 8, when she sustained a serious injury during an accident, the university announced on their website on Monday.
The Milford native, 20, who was working toward a degree in nursing, died just two days later at Yale-New Haven hospital on Sunday, Nov. 10.
“This has been devastating to her coaches and teammates and we hope to support them in this very difficult time,” SCSU’s Director of Athletics Jay Moran said. “Melanie was a very bright student, an excellent athlete and involved member of the Southern Connecticut community. The entire Southern athletics family is greatly saddened by her loss.”
Coleman reportedly slipped on the uneven bars at New Era Training Facility, a rented, off-campus gymnastics facility in Hamden, and suffered upper body injuries, according to the Hartford Courant.
University spokesperson Patrick Dilger told the outlet that the college has had a rental contract with New Era since 2003 and that the facility has always held the “highest standard of safety.” He also added that the freak accident occurred during a “routine training exercise” and that Coleman was treated by her CPR-certified coach before emergency personnel arrived.
Thomas Alberti, the owner of New Era who coached Coleman for close to 10 years, called her death “an unexpected accident with a tragic result.”
Coleman was a graduate of Jonathan Law High School, where she also earned team captain, most valuable player, and all-state accolades. She joined the SCSU Owls in 2017-18 as a freshman and competed alongside her older sister Tiffany until the latter’s graduation last year, according to the university.
During her college campaign, Coleman was a standout student-athlete, garnering all-American scholar-athlete honors by USA Gymnastics and Scholastic all-American recognition by Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association.
She also gave back to her community, volunteering as a youth instructor at New Era.