Gymnast from Southern Connecticut State dies of spinal injury suffered during practice

A gymnast at Southern Connecticut State University died Sunday after suffering an injury while training Friday, the school announced Monday on its website.

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Melanie Coleman, 20, a junior from Milford, died after suffering a spinal cord injury while practicing on the bars, the Connecticut Post reported.

"The injury occurred after she slipped off of the bar,'' Thomas Alberti, her former coach, told the Hartford Courant. "Melanie was not at fault."

Coleman was an All-State selection and captain of the Jonathan Law High School gymnastics team, where she led the school to a second-place finish at the state tournament, Southern Connecticut State said in a news release.

Coleman was studying to be a nurse, the school said.

Alberti, who coached and trained Coleman for 10 years and also coached her two older sisters, hired Coleman at his gymnastics business in Hamden, the Post reported. Coleman taught, coached and hosted birthday events at the business before she entered college, Alberti told the newspaper.

"To know her was to like her," Alberti told the Post. "She was a role model all our students could look up to."

"We are heartbroken and stunned by Melanie's passing," Southern Connecticut State gymnastics coach Mary Fredericks said in the school's news release. "She was an incredibly hard worker and a sweet-spirited young woman. Our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to her family at this time. The SCSU Gymnastics team will miss her greatly though she will always be with us."

Coleman's family set up a GoFundMe  page and a page that coordinates meal donations to the family at

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