Bending over backwards

Angele Cano/NNSL photo From left, Alicia Hayne inspires Georgia Dawson to hold her bridge pose, along with Kaitlyn Ring and Samantha Goodwin.

Hay River gymnasts had some added pressure to perform their techniques on the weekend.

Members enrolled in the Hay River Gymnastics Club swung, balanced and stretched their way through the Saturday event and fundraiser. Each gymnast collected pledges in exchange for performing gymnastic techniques they had learned during the year. 

It was the club’s first Gym-a-thon since starting back up again after a two-season hiatus. The program fired up again in October and will taper off in mid-May.

“Our goal is eventually to have our own home,” said club president Nikki Ashton. “We’re just getting the program up and running again. We don’t have a lot of expenses, so any money we are raising goes to new facility.”

But Ashton said plans for a more dedicated space for gymnasts lies in the distant future. Right now, and for the next few years, they will focus on working with what they’ve got.

“A goal for us is to have more coaches certified,” said Ashton.

There were 32 participants in this year’s event out of the 40 gymnasts that frequent the program, which both parents and participants are happy to see return. But the club’s executive would love to be able to offer more.

On Saturday afternoon, while gymnasts took to the balance beam, club vice-president Angela Carter described the process of setting up and tearing down equipment and the puzzle work involved in storing beams, mats and bars into
the club’s current space.

“We are really grateful for the space we have, but in order to get into a more competitive program, we need to have the gym time,” said Carter. “Hay River used to have a really good gymnastics program and we are trying to get it back there.”

Currently, gymnastics is held in Princess Alexandra School – the only gymnasium with hook-ups for beams and bars – and scheduling is always a balancing act. Carter said there are a few junior gymnasts in the advanced recreation level that could progress to competitive.

Gymnasts range in age from three to 18 years and learn under three certified coaches: Ashton, Carter, and Sarah Froese. Groups are determined in part by both age and skill level. Aside from teaching the basics, they also try to have fun.

“Gymnastics covers all your fundamentals: balance, power, speed, coordination, flexibility, as well as teamwork,” said Ashton. “It gives you the groundwork to do other sports even better.”

There are also three junior coaches to teach younger age groups and massive amounts of parent support. Parents commit their time to set up equipment.

“They appreciate that we put in time,” said Ashton. “The parents have been so supportive.”