I first started coaching gymnastics in 2016 at a gym that wasn’t FCGC (I still coach there, as well as at FCGC, today). My friend was a coach at that gym and she encouraged me to apply for a coaching position there. But here’s the most interesting part: I had never done gymnastics before that in my life. I didn’t start doing gymnastics until shortly after I came to FCGC in 2017. I knew due to my lack of gymnastics experience that coaching would be a learning curveball but since I started coaching at that gym, and since coming to FCGC as well, my skills and knowledge have only continued to grow, along with my passion for this sport and what I do as a coach.
Since becoming a gymnastics coach, my view on the sport has changed completely. I used to think of it as a purely competitive sport, but now I realise that it can also be just for fun and fitness (and that competing can be fun too!). I also used to think that you had to start it as a child, and now I see gymnastics as a sport for all, which it truly is, and it’s never too late to start. In only two years of coaching I’ve been able to work with such a wide range of people in gymnastics, including school-aged children, preschoolers as young as a year old, and even adults with disabilities, and I truly value this experience for helping me to appreciate this sport so much more and opening my eyes to its wide variety of benefits. To tell you the truth, I used to not know how to even define gymnastics, but now I know that it’s simply about learning how to control your body. This can range from anything like walking across a beam to performing twists and somersaults, and it also means that gymnastics has something for everyone.
In the short amount of time I’ve been at FCGC, I’ve realized that there is nothing short of the truth in our saying that gymnastics helps with finding confidence and growing in character. Gymnastics teaches so much more than cool flips and tricks. It teaches you to give things a go even though they seem really scary. It teaches you to keep persevering with things even when you struggle, and to work hard to achieve what you want. It teaches you to trust yourself and be confident in your abilities and potential. In short, it teaches skills for life. Not only do I see these things happen in the gym, but I’ve experienced them myself. Being a gymnast and a coach has made me so much more sure of my character, and has shown me that I can make a difference and do great things. This increase in confidence and self-belief is something I didn’t even realise I needed until I got to the point where I could say all these things with conviction. And I think because I’ve experienced what it’s like to find confidence and grow in character through gymnastics, I’m now more equipped to help others do the same thing. At the end of the day, that’s what FCGC Gymnastics is all about, and it’s one of the things I love about being here.
Ever since I was grade four I knew I wanted to teach kids. My mum said I was made to be a teacher from the time I first made a friend in kinder, as all I ever wanted to do was play schools, and of course I was always the teacher. In saying this, I never really knew what it fully meant to be a teacher. I didn’t understand that being a teacher meant more than teaching maths and English. It meant being a role model, leading by example, teaching life skills and lessons that will help them within society.
I started coaching at FCGC in 2016. I was one of the first members of FCGC to participate in the leadership program, and through this program I learnt what it meant to be a teacher. Whether you are a swim instructor, a lecturer at university, or like myself a coach, we are all teachers. We are all people who can make a significant difference in a child’s life if we are willing to put in the time and effort.
I have gained so much knowledge, skill and achievements from my 13 years of involvement in gymnastics, but it was when I became a coach that I saw my biggest personal growth. I believe one of my biggest personal developments as not only a coach, but a teacher to be, was my increase in confidence. For any of you that know me, you will find this hard to believe, but when I was a little girl, I was very shy. Over the years through my passion for gymnastics, I have found the place where I can truly be myself and this has led me to being the person I am today.
The work and opportunities I have been given while being a part of FCGC contributes to my confidence that I now show. The introduction of FCGCs parent interaction time was a challenge for me, as I always found talking to parents daunting and in some ways confronting, but as I continued to be put out of my comfort zone, I achieved things I never thought I would have had the confidence in doing so beforehand. Another challenging opportunity I received from coaching was taking my own kinder gym class. This involved me interacting and communicating with parents while working closely with their child. Both opportunities I was lucky enough to have had, have scaffolded my learning to become the best teacher I can be.
As I continue to study primary school teaching I will proceed to use my knowledge that I have taken away from FCGC to help me on my pathway to becoming a teacher. I’m very thankful to have been introduced to such an amazing sport and being a part of a community where I have developed strong friendships and skills for life.
No one has ever questioned my decision to choose coaching as my career but people find it hard to understand the long hours we work as coaches, or the extra work we put in over weekends for competitions, displays and other events, the time we spend at home planning for classes and dancing around the kitchen making up routines. To me it is very simple, I have made a decision to dedicate my life to helping others succeed, and I am luckily enough to be able to do it via the best sport in the world!
“Success” in gymnastics could easily be associated with competition based awards, but for me and FCGC, there is so much more to it than that. Being able to teach someone to do a back-flip is an achievement that I celebrate, but more so what I am truly celebrating is the dedication that is took for a gymnast to achieve that skill. The perseverance that was required to do the lead up drills hundreds of times before attempting the back-flip. The courage it took for that gymnast to trust in themselves, and me as their coach, to perform a back- flip for the first time. The positive mindset that the gymnast must have had to say to them self “Hey, I can do this!” These are the things I celebrate and these are the things I teach.
Someone recently said to me that I must be really good at gymnastics to be able to demonstrate all the activities my to gymnasts. With great pride I was able to tell them NO WAY!! She was very taken a back and couldn’t work out why I didn’t want to be better than my athletes. I remember being so excited the first time I was able to teach a skill to a gymnast that I was never able to do. That was one of my first tastes of “success” for both the gymnast and I. They were able to learn something new and I was able to teach something that I wouldn’t have previously been able to do. “Success” to me as a coach is being able to help gymnasts to develop to be the best athletes and people they can be and if that means they can perform harder skills than me then I have done my job well.
Being a coach I am constantly challenged with situations where I need to evolve and learn more to help those around me. I am always trying to learn about knew drills to help teach gymnastics, read up on new tactics to help encourage a growth mindset and find out new ways to work with different age groups. Through my continual education and development I am able to push my knowledge forwards and then pass this onto gymnasts, to hopefully inspire them to also have a life long love for learning. I like to be challenged by my gymnasts and asked “Why?”. This my seem like a strange thing to like about my job, but to me it shows that these gymnasts are developing self thought and not just blinding following what they are asked to do. It also means I have to stay on my toes and really understand what and why I am teaching.
Coaching is not just something I have do because I need money to live. It is something I would choose to do, and do choose to do every day. Sometimes to the dismay of my family and friends because I don’t think I ever really stop thinking or talking about it. But I strongly believe that if we don’t push our limits and try to improve ourselves as people we become stagnant. By helping others find confidence and grown in character I am always challenged. I have not just chosen coaching gymnastics as a career but also as a lifestyle because it challenges me to succeed. Helping others learn and grow makes me learn and grow, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.