Gymnastics coach finds ways to stay connected to her athletes

STURGIS, S.D. – The sports world has stopped before but never like this.

In fact, it could be weeks before teams are back on the field.

As teams deal with a new reality, a local gymnastics coach is finding creative ways to connect with her athletes during this unique time.

The Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy in Sturgis is usually bustling with activity.

But last week, there were just a few gymnasts along with their coaches.

“We’re closed,” said Mieke Bruch, owner of the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy. “We don’t have any recreation, ninja or preschool classes going on. We have taken this down time to go ahead and evaluate some of our team girls right now to get ready for the next season.”

Due to the coronavirus measures, sports clubs across the country are finding themselves standing still with no imminent prospect of getting their training routines back on course.

However, the coaches at the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy have turned to social media to stay in touch with their athletes by sharing videos.

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Gymnasts at the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy in Sturgis.

“We’re going ahead and having some of our coaches go through some little skills and stretches and strengths that kids can do at home,” Bruch said. “We’re going to be putting some videos out on Facebook and emailing people some suggestions and some things that they can safely do at home.”

Each video is designed specifically for the different age groups and levels.

The coaches hope the videos will help the athletes stay in shape until this unique situation improves.

“There are things they can do just on their living room floor, as far as, stretching, some cardio stuff,” said Amy Ellis, a coach at the Northern Hills Gymnastics Academy. “Also a makeshift balance beam by using tape or something on the floor where they can practice just the basics. On top of this, I don’t want them doing big tricks either in fear that they may get hurt.”

Most gymnasts train between four to 20 hours per week.

So when their practice time is reduced to nearly zero, it can have a significant impact on the gymnasts.

“I have a Level 10 that’s going from 20 hours per week to zero,” Ellis said. “I am trying to get her into the gym a little bit just with some one-on-one to keep her in shape. I am concerned that if we are ordered to shut down, what we’re going to do. So I’m in the scrambling phase right now too anticipating that these girls won’t be able to come into the gym and what I can do to get them to stay in shape until we can reopen.”

Not only are the coaches concerned about their athletes fitness, but their worried about their mental health, as well.

“I do mental training once a week in the gym with the team girls following the Alison Arnold who’s a sports psychologist,” Ellis said. “So I do plan on sending weekly chapters about the mental part of it too. Not only is it good for the gymnasts mind but for all us through this difficult time to stay mentally healthy too.”

Ellis says she’ll continue to work with her gymnasts through video since there’s no clear-cut deadline in place for when life will return to normal.

Categories: High School, Sports