By Bill Schlichting
Pilot staff writer
Young gymnasts showed off their self-confidence skills as well as the acrobatic moves they have learned in gymnastics classes during the fourth-annual spring recital Saturday night in Gold Beach.
The stands in the old gymnasium at Gold Beach High School were packed with onlookers watching as 61 children performed in 38 routines on parallel bars, balance beams and on mats during the event hosted by Rebound Gymnastics of Gold Beach. About a dozen of the gymnasts were from Brookings.
Participating children ranged in age from 2 to 16. Most of the younger children performed simple tumbling on the mats with help from the older students. The more experienced gymnasts performed more difficult routines.
Gymnasts are divided into skill levels, Tracy John, teacher and owner of Rebound Gymnastics, explained.
"It's hard at every level" John said about the challenges the students face.
She teaches gymnastics through level four in a casual setting. Level three and higher are considered competition levels. However, she doesn't teach routines higher than level four because insurance becomes costly and she prefers to teach recreational gymnastics.
"It's more about empowering self-confidence and the kids learning to believe in themselves," John said.
Students learn that it's OK to make a mistake, get up and start over. The balance beam is the hardest apparatus on which to overcome fear. Once a student falls from the beam, it is difficult to regain the self-confidence to try again, John said. However, the students do try again and find success.
Rebound Gymnastics schedules classes are every Saturday at Gold Beach High School. Each level is taught at a different time during the day.
"It's a long Saturday," John said.
However, she gets help from students Megan Ross and Amanda Schreiber, and at times, she combines skill levels. Usually her enrollment is between 60 and 80 children, most of whom are between the ages of 7 and 11.
Students are not required to attend every session, John said.
"I realize children may have other activities and gymnastics are not always their first choice, so they are allowed to come and go as they please," John said. "But if they are to perform for a recital, I expect a solid two months of preparation."
Like some of the children she teaches, John, 32, was introduced to gymnastics when she was 2 years old.
"I grew up in it," she said.
John began helping teach at 15 and taught classes on her own at 17. By the time she was in college in Flagstaff, Ariz., she was teaching recreational and competitive gymnastics.
After moving to Port Orford, she began teaching classes for the Boys and Girls Clubs in Gold Beach and Bandon, but quit after she became pregnant.
After her baby was born, parents started calling John to ask if she was going to teach gymnastics again. However, by that time Boys and Girls Clubs was no longer interested, so she ventured on her own. This was the beginning of Rebound Gymnastics four years ago.
Although students come and go, about a dozen of her original students are still with her and have improved in their skills. Perhaps one exception is Schreiber, who started taking classes with her about nine months ago.
"She is mostly self-taught," John said of the student she calls a gymnastics prodigy.
A new session of classes begins Saturday, April 5. For information, call John at (541) 253-6278.