Gymnasts flip onto holiday scene

LIHU’E — Holiday shoppers got a chance to get even more hyped Sunday as 20 students from the Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy presented their annual Christmas Exhibition at Kukui Grove.

The group of 20 students was divided into three groups, Kula Hui (Team) being the older students, Hoku Hui (Training Team), the intermediate students, and the youngest students forming the Iki Hui (Pre-Team).

Following an Olympic-style entry onto the stage that housed the big beam, the students broke into each group and went through their achievements and accomplishments in three separate arenas: the floor, which was covered with gymnastic mats, the Tramp Trak/Pit Bar that was set up adjacent to the mall’s stage, and the beam.

Jack Leonard, who along with his wife, Kay, own and operate the academy, was busy with students in the Iki Hui as they performed their warmups at the Tramp Trak/Pit Bar, working through jump rope routines while bouncing on the plush mats, and doing flips.

Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy is the only gymnastics facility on Kaua’i.

Located in the Puhi Industrial Park, the academy offers many different sizes and types of beams, a Tramp Trak (trampoline), a Tumbl Trak, two sets of bars, and a floor exercise area flanked by a wall of mirrors.

The academy also features three different sizes of back handspring trainers, a handstand trainer for bars, and a Pommel Horse Mushroom Trainer.

Jack Leonard came to Kaua’i from Hill’s Gymnastics Training Center in Gaithersburg, Md. He is a graduate of Ohio State University where he majored in physical education on a gymnastic scholarship.

Following his graduation, he taught different levels of P.E. for 32 years in addition to instructing and coaching gymnastics for 35 years at club, high school, and professional clinics. His clientele ranged from children aged 2 to adults.

A nine-time national champion with medals in tumbling, vaulting, and floor exercise, he was assistant coach of Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes with his coaching influences touching several other Olympians and University National champions.

National recognition was bestowed on him in 1981 and 2001 when he was honored with the Coach of the Year award for men and women respectively.

Kaua’i Gymnastics Academy offers gymnastics programs for youngsters as young as 3 years old and continuing through adult.

The academy also offers programs in tumbling for cheerleaders, Tramp Trak & Tumbling, and Aerial Fabric.

Coaches on hand for the exhibition included Pua Holder, dance coach Marin Johnson, assistant coach Savannah Rollins, dance coach Mercedes Johnson, coach/choreographer Che Graves, assistant coach Jessica Hanson, and aerial fabric Julie Johnson.

For more information on the year-round program, visit the Web site at www.kauaigymnastics.com, or call 245-8863.

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