After nearly six months without a competitive coach, the Terrace Peaks Gymnastics Club is now poised to aim for peak performance levels with the hiring of veteran coach Karl McPherson.
The 32-year veteran of the sport began his career as a gymnast and coached in Ontario before coming to B.C. in 1991. He’s produced provincial champions, coached kids to nationals and American National Collegiate Athletic Association teams, been named coach of the year, and acted as a judge and coaching evaluator.
“I’ve done pretty much everything,” said McPherson.
After spending several years in White Rock, McPherson decided a change of pace was necessary.
“In the Lower Mainland I was in a very tough zone. There are 13 clubs in zone 3 and you’re 20 minutes away,” he said. “It’s very, very political. I just wanted to be in a small town where there’s just one gym club to focus on the sport.”
He decided it was time to explore options in December – just when previous Peaks head coach Ambra Marak was taking her leave – so the timing couldn’t have been better. While the club was initially worried about coach recruitment, those fears went away when club manager Kiera Almas saw the proposal from McPherson, someone she had worked with in Vancouver.
Here since April, McPherson likes what he sees in Terrace so far.
“There’s a lot of very young kids, so in terms of future development there is that group to pull from,” he said. “There’s more activity up here for kids, they’re not sitting in front of the TV or computer playing games all of the time. There are more opportunities to become physically literate.”
Both he and Almas say the transition has been smooth – and that they have a plan laid out for September, when the competitive season begins.
“It’s been really good working relationship,” she said. “We have very similar coaching philosophies and ideas … I’m really looking forward to September.”
And the competitive team is getting back into shape. “We’ve done the assessment in terms of where their fitness is, now we have to convert that into their development,” said McPherson. “Right now it’s just getting basically retrieving the skills that they haven’t really worked on and building their confidence there, and then figuring out what the next direction is.”
For those who want to join the competitive team – or just check out the club – tryouts are this Saturday, June 6 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
“Anybody can come to the tryouts, it’s an open assessment,” he said. “We’re looking for girls that have that natural ability for the sport of gymnastics and we’ll make recommendations on where they’ll fit into our competitive program.”
Added Almas, “It’d be great even for parents who don’t know anything about the sport and they want to get their kids in gymnastics but they’re not sure what program to put them in, they can come to tryouts and we’ll let them know what program to register for.”