If you have a young child in the York area, there's probably a good chance you've heard of Skyline Gymnastics. With good reason, too.
Skyline was been teaching children and young adults how to compete and get better in the sport for the past 28 years.
Over that time, Skyline, which was founded by T.C. Goodwin and Linda Holden back in 1986, has grown in size and stature. The gym has helped to develop multiple individual state champions and regional champions, as well as award-winning teams at postseason events over the past two decades. Some gymnasts have even won scholarships to colleges for their work.
Most recently, the Skyline girls took part in the Pink Invitational-Gymnasts Unite meet in Philadelphia, where more than 2,800 gymnasts and more than 40 teams competed across all levels. The gym's participants took home 23 individual event first-place titles, three all-around titles and two team titles.
The entire Skyline program also took part in a fundraiser in the months leading up to the event, placing second overall among all gyms. That honor earned Skyline an automatic berth into next year's event.
We recently discussed the gym with Skyline's Goodwin and Holden, as well as with Team Parents Association (TPA) publicity chairperson Jeannie Bryan, for this edition of Sports Q&A.
Q: What does it mean for the program to be able to compete in the Pink Invitational-Gymnasts Unite meet?
A (Goodwin): Going to the Pink meet is an honor for our girls. I think they all know at least one person affected by cancer, in particular breast cancer. At the meet, there is a feeling that because of these girls and their efforts, hopefully these gymnasts will never have to deal with cancer. Some of our youngest gymnasts even made bracelets and contributed the money to the Unite For Her fund. I cannot be more proud of our girls and their parents for all of their efforts.
Q: Who were some of the most successful gymnasts from Skyline to compete at the meet?
A (Bryan): This is very difficult to answer and I'm not just trying to avoid the question. Success is measured by many aspects in gymnastics. On the very surface, the three gymnasts that took home all-around titles were Nikki Rafi (Level 3), Desiree Castonguay (Level 5) and Emma Brown (Level 8). But scores have different meanings at different levels. We had many gymnasts score in the 37.0 range, which is exceptional, and even more scoring in the 36.0 range, which is also quite an achievement. But the higher the gymnasts' level is, the harder it is to achieve those high scores, so 34s and 35s can also be considered successes. In addition, many gymnasts achieved personal bests, which were huge victories for them. There were individual scores that placed first and were in the high 9.0s, which is an astounding accomplishment. So to be a little cliché, success is in the eye of the beholder.
Q: How big of a deal are the fundraising efforts and how did that come into play initially?
A (Bryan): In previous years, we have always put forth an effort to raise additional funds for the Above and Beyond Challenge. Families have always been generous in the past and we have encouraged families to look to their employers for matching funds for this event, but there was not an organized plan. This year, with the incredible, endlessly energetic efforts of TPA member Suzette Sauter, a breast cancer survivor herself, we set the bar higher. She set a goal of $15,000 for the membership and began tirelessly seeking opportunities for families in which to participate. With suggestions from the TPA members, we created a number of fundraising opportunities. Some gymnasts even did activities on their own, such as making bracelets for sale and penny wars at their own schools, etc.
Q: How difficult is it to get a gym into the competition?
A (Bryan): Each year, entrance to the meet has become more and more competitive, with many teams being turned down due to being filled to capacity. This year's challenge to the gyms included a guarantee for entrance next year. The meet is so important to the gymnasts that not returning would be devastating. In addition, now we have the opportunity to pay it forward through a grant from UFH by dedicating a portion ($2,000) of the raised funds back into our local community.
Q: What other meets do the Skyline girls participate in?
A (Bryan): Skyline is a member of the BRGA (Blue Ridge Gymnastics Association) and the compulsory levels (2-5) compete at meets within that league throughout central Pennsylvania. In addition to those meets, Skyline chooses a wide variety of meets each year, such as The Excalibur Cup, Parkettes Invitational, San Diego Classic, Alamo Classic, National Judges Cup, etc. We generally travel within about two-three hours from the gym within Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey and Maryland. Once a year, we travel a little further, with one year being a "drive away" meet (Virginia, Ohio, New Jersey, etc) and the next year being a "flyaway" meet (Texas, Florida, California, etc). The national meets are a great opportunity for gymnasts to experience international competition and have the excitement of traveling as a team and experiencing regional differences.
Q: How much practice is involved in becoming a successful gymnast?
A (Bryan): Gymnastics is a sport that requires an intense amount of year-round commitment. Gymnasts practice anywhere from four hours a week for Level 2 all the way up to 20 or more hours a week for Levels 9 and 10. In addition to gymnastics, most gymnasts are also taking ballet class to augment their dance skills. Amazingly, the commitment, dedication, organizational skills, time management skills and self-motivation all empower these girls to excel and achieve goals while almost all of them are A and B students as school as well.
Q: What do you feel is the most important aspect of the Skyline program and where do you envision it heading in the future?
A (Goodwin): The most important aspect of Skyline Gymnastics is that we encourage fitness and fun through the challenge of gymnastics. From the age of 2, we instill the need to be active. We have both boys and girls who are recreational gymnasts, competitive gymnasts. We also have a pre-kindergarten program, Minds in Motion. We encourage all children to always strive to be the best that they can be. We are always improving our gym, we recently enlarged our lobby and we built an expansion onto the main gym, and are now remodeling our pre-school room. We have also added TV monitors so that you more easily observe your child. With all of our improvements and our outstanding staff at Skyline, we feel that the sky is the limit for any gymnast.
— Reach Ryan Vandersloot at email@example.com.