Vicki Stinson is looking to continue the tradition of young coaches at the Fort Frances Gymnastics Academy.
The first challenge came Sunday at initial rhythmic gymnastics class. Stinson, who one week earlier had completed her Level 1 coaching certification in Winnipeg, had the task of introducing the basics to newcomers Felicia and Karina Schmutz.
Her two pupils were hesitant at first, unsure if they were doing the right thing. But soon the club’s youngest part-time coach had loosened the mood with some basic drills using the tools of rhythmic gymnastics—balls, hoops, ribbons, and ropes.
After about 20 minutes, the group had relaxed and taken openly to the routines.
“I just want to work with people who like to work and have that desire to learn something new,” said the 17-year-old Fort High student.
It’s been a tough year for the local gymnastics club as enrolment in all disciplines has been down and a number of their other teen coaches—including Christina York and Stephanie Logan—have moved on to college or university.
There currently are six part-time coaches this season to help head coaches Alex Rosalina and Adrian Ota.
“We’ve always had the benefit of teenage coaches,” said Stinson’s mother, Marilyn, a board member with the Fort Frances Visserettes Club and president of the rhythmics program.
“This year, they’ve just seemed to have moved on.”
The younger Stinson said the closeness in age with their students always has been an advantage for younger coaches.
“I really like being a one-on-one type coach—a coach and a friend,” she remarked. “It doesn’t matter how old they are as long as you can connect with them.”
In addition to her recent certification, Stinson also is a Level II women’s and men’s artistic coach. She said her coaching classes at the University of Manitoba were “almost lecture-like,” but is eager to complete three more levels before becoming a true-blue coach.
Starting in competitive gymnastics at the age of nine, Stinson is a former provincial competitor and national level trampolinist. She’s put her own career on hold as she looks towards coaching, and is hoping her small rhythmics class will be the start of something good.
“I got started because it was a very difficult sport for me personally,” she said. “I love challenges and I would really like to see [rhythmic gymnastics] improve in town.”
Stinson said she tries to keep in touch with former coaches Mike Lang and Christina Herdman, who both now coach in Thunder Bay, along with whatever advice she can pick up along the way from her fellow coaches.
While classes end in early May, registration for introductory rhythmic classes is still open. For more information, call Marilyn Stinson at 274-7210.