Travelling for gymnastics may be thing of the past

Parents who drive their children west to Red Deer or south to Drumheller for gymnastics lessons may be able to stay closer

Parents who drive their children west to Red Deer or south to Drumheller for gymnastics lessons may be able to stay closer to home next fall thanks to the work of a dedicated core of volunteers.

Town of Stettler councillor Karen Sernecky and a handful of other volunteers have been working for the past several months to create a local gymnastics association, which is now in its final stages of forming as a non-profit.

As a non-profit, Sernecky explained, the association would be able to apply for sports grants funding.

The association has its eyes on several sources for equipment for the new local gymnastics area, and have been keeping their eyes peeled for a coach, but before either can be secured it must find a place to set up shop.

“Ideally, we’re wanting a place where we can leave it set up,” Sernecky explained, adding that ceiling height has added difficulties in finding a place. “The old seniors’ drop-in centre (would have been good), except the ceilings are too low.”

Sernecky said that for a venue to be suitable it requires at least 18-foot high ceilings at a minimum.

“An old garage bay would be ideal,” Sernecky said. “We don’t want to be having to take (the equipment) down every day. It’d require too many volunteers.”

So while the association has several potential sources for equipment, it’s held off purchasing it until a place to put it is absolutely certain.

The need for an association came out of the exhaustion felt by families travelling weekly (or even more than weekly) to Red Deer and Drumheller.

Sernecky estimates at least 50 kids from Stettler are in gymnastics in Red Deer alone, and that doesn’t take into consideration some of the other surrounding communities which would be able to consider gymnastics in Stettler a more viable opportunity.

“I’ve heard Drumheller come up as another destination,” Sernecky said, noting that some of the more southern communities in the county, like Byemoor or Big Valley, may be sending children there since it’s about the same distance to Drumheller as it would be to Red Deer.

What type of gymnastics being taught at the Stettler association’s nascent gym would depend on the coach, but the drive is to start with athletic gymnastics – the bars, balance beam, pommel horse and vaulting fall under this consideration.

Rhythmic gymnastics, which includes the use of a ball, trampoline, and ribbons would be nice to offer, but isn’t the drive of the association.

With such a strong dance presence in Stettler, Sernecky said she has no doubt rhythmic gymnastics would find a footing in the community, but she’s loath to compete with the local dance studios as well.

“At the latest, we’re hoping to have (a location and programs) up and running by September,” Sernecky explained, but also said there was hope that everything could be in place to offer some shorter summer programs as well.