The Port Alberni Gymnastics Academy is a busy place this time of year. The sport has experienced growth locally with more children and youth taking part in recreational and competitive classes.
The high school also has a student team that trains in the gym, a group that has made a come-back in the past few years.
Seven gymnasts from the ADSS team recently competed at the North Island Zone trials, hosted by PAGA. This trial determined the athletes who will move on to the provincial championships in Vancouver from March 10–13.
While some of the girls on the team have a long background in competitive gymnastics, others are new or have taken part in recreational classes.
“We start with the basic routines and they have an opportunity to compete in all four events,” Moss said.
It has only been in the last three years that the high school has had an active team since the 1990s.
“We saw an interest, and had a sponsor teacher whose daughters are in gymnastics, so we were able to offer it for the high school girls,” said Moss.
Moss said that because it is typically a sport that ends at a young age, this gives the teenagers a chance to return, get exercise and work around their schedules. Unlike club members, they have a shorter season and a less taxing time commitment.
Those heading to the BC Championships include Mikaela Pettigrew (1st place, Level 1 Sr.), Emily Yard (2nd place, Level 1 Sr.), Emily West (2nd place, Level 2), Jenna Thompson (3rd place, Level 2) and Abigail Anderson (1st place, Level 4).
Maya Giesbrecht received first place as a Level 1 Junior and Zoe Carroll came in second in the same category.
Competitive club members, who train up to 12 hours per week, attended the first meet in Comox on Feb. 6-7.
Results are as follows:
Level 3, 13 years and under:
Aleah McKimm, Fourth all-around
Janae Gill, Sixth all-around
Sanam Munir, Eighth all-around
Jayden Blake, 12th all-around
Shalaine Walker, 13th all-around
Level 6, 12 years and under:
Olivia Moss, 7th all-around
Level 6, 13 years and older
Sheridan Osterman, 5th all-around
Currently the club has a membership of about 600 gymnasts of all ages. Flemming credits the increased interest to the affordability of gymnastics.
“Gymnastics has been thought of as an elitist sport for a long time, but people are realizing it is affordable,” she said. “They can also do fundraising and apply to KidSport. We have a few who have fundraised their fees away.”
The 39th annual Invitational at PAGA will take place from March 19-20 and some local gymnasts will be vying for a spot at the BC Championships in Vancouver on April 15.