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Ryan McCracken photo
Ryan McCracken photo
Jadyn Dunlop, Lexis Ouellette, Ashlynn Trefenanko, Courtney Smyl and Sara Smyl leap into the air during a game of 'What time is it Mr. Wolf' at the final session of the gymnastics season last Wednesday evening.
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Gymnastics Club wraps up inaugural season

Apr 01, 2014 11:45 am | By Ryan McCracken | St. Paul Journal

The St. Paul Gymnastics Club wrapped up its inaugural season last Wednesday, and Club President Sylvie Smyl said the outcome has been better than she could have dreamed.

“The community support has been awesome. The parents and the athletes have been really great,” she said. “All in all it’s really been a fantastic first year for our program. I think it’s more than we ever dreamed it would be.”

St. Paul Gymnastics Club Coach Andrea Hall said while very few entered the program with gymnastics experience, she has seen a great deal of development through the course of the season.

“We’ve seen a great deal of improvement in our gymnasts, in their skills and conditioning too,” she said. “There were only one or two kids that I know of who were in a gymnastics program prior to this, so it’s really given an opportunity for the kids whose parents don’t want to travel to be involved in gymnastics.”

Smyl added it has been great to watch the development amongst the local athletes across all age groups.

“I have a two year old who’s walking on the beam backwards by herself, and the line of cartwheels these older groups are doing and the bars and the beams. The growth has been phenomenal. Every practice I see an improvement in a lot of these athletes,” said Smyl. “We’re ecstatic, it’s been really great.”

Gymnasts are trained in various badge levels through the Alberta Gymnastics Federation CanGym program, and at the last Wednesday’s sessions, many were presented with new badges and report cards.

“The kids work on specific skills depending on their badge level, and we put them in groups based on that so they can hopefully get a badge every session,” said Hall. “As they progress and get to higher levels it will take two or three sessions to get the next badge.”

The club features three certified coaches, and four coaches in training, and Hall said the coaches in training have been “invaluable” to the club in its ability to help develop young gymnasts in St. Paul.

“They’re invaluable. They’re fantastic with the kids, they’re responsible, they all exhibit great leadership qualities and initiative, and they have all expressed an interest in getting certified to be coaches,” Hall said of the coaches in training. “We’re in the process of working on that and mentoring them, so we’ll hopefully have them certified over the next year or so.”

Hall added that the community support through events like the Flippin’ Funny fundraiser has allowed the club to purchase new equipment and offer a wider array of gymnastics training.

“We started out with just this old yellow floor, and so far we’ve got the bars, all the blue mats are newly purchased, the high beam we got fixed . . . so our equipment and what we can teach has improved a lot already,” said Hall. “We look forward to growing so that we’ll be able to accommodate more kids and more nights, and then hopefully we’ll be able to host birthday parties on weekends where we can rent out this space and have a coach there for open gym.”

The club, which features two sessions with an average of 90 participants each, also has a lengthy waiting list, and Smyl said she hopes to expand the program to allow for more participation next season.

“We’re hoping to grow in the amount of nights we can offer, but of course we will need more coaches to grow our program,” said Smyl. “We’ll let the community know when we know more.”


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September 2014