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Gymnastics club scrambling after coaches’ departure

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The sudden departure of coaches Alex Rosalina and Adriana Ota has the Fort Frances Gymnastics Academy scrambling—yet hopeful—to finish the season on a strong note.

The pair stepped down March 9, citing general unhappiness with the direction of the club.

In their place, part-time coaches Vicki Stinson, Wendy Kellar, and Arlan and Maureen Hahkala will maintain the rhythmic, trampoline, and kindergym programs.

Meanwhile, coaching co-ordinator Wendy Mayer has brought former part-time coach and gymnast Joleen Hogan on board to help out with the competitive programs.

Hogan, 26, had coached for 10 years before taking the last 18 months off for maternity leave.

“We have a strong group of coaches and we’re confident we can get through this,” club executive Marilyn Stinson said.

“We’re in the process of [deciding] which direction to go,” echoed Maureen Hahkala, also a member of the executive.

An information meeting for parents likely will be scheduled by the end of this week.

“I think everyone is a little confused with the coaches leaving,” said Hogan. “We just want to get everyone on the same page, to get the coaches on the same page, so we can rebuild for next year.”

As the gymnastic season winds down, one key goal is to make sure “Springfest,” the local club’s annual invitational meet, goes ahead as scheduled April 13.

On the down side, the instability over the coaching situation means trampolinists Michelle Cournoyer and Jill Howarth won’t compete at the junior provincials in Toronto next month.

The academy has been using full-time head coaches since 1997. Before that, they held programs together on the strength of their part-time coaches.

“We’ve operated without head coaches and we’ll just have to carry on that way,” remarked Stinson, who added there are no immediate plans to find a full-time replacement.

“I’d like to stay. I’m not sure in what capacity,” said Hogan.

Ota had been with the academy since October, 2000, starting out as a part-time coach.

Rosalina signed on as co-coach with Ota to replace Mike Lang last June—just as the Visserettes had taken full ownership of their building from Pinewood Sports.

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