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Big life changes... but all for the better!

Aero

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Jan 1, 2014
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New Jersey, Region 7
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USA
Hello to my ChalkBucket family!

I have big news to share with those who care to hear it! I am once again changing gyms; I have very lofty career goals, and nothing will stop me from reaching them. At my current gym, I have found myself stuck in a rut, so to speak. In addition to finances, my coaching style, values, and suggestions on making the team program better have been stifled. There's lots of resistance to change, especially the more radical ideas about systemic change (like changing the quality of the process and methodologies of coaching the pre-team). I was specifically hired two years ago at this gym to make these very changes, but I've found over time this was simply not going to happen. I knew I had to move on. :confused:

I started looking all around for gyms. I was not bound by location; I was willing to move anywhere around the country, as long as the gym and culture was high quality. I looked in New Hampshire, Texas, Missouri, Massachusetts, and other parts of New Jersey. I spoke to many of you as well, asking for assistance in finding a new home. Luckily, because I network like a beast, an opportunity found me, simply because the gymnastics community is small and word got around that I was looking.

Now, as many of you already know, I've never been one for anonymity. I find it incredibly valuable, especially in today's current gymnastics climate, to be open and transparent. I am a very "what you see is what you get" type of individual, and I've found that the more I put out in the open, I've had far less trouble with rumors, gossip, and negativity. With that being said, I want to share some more details.

Craig Zappa, the head coach of ENA in Paramus, NJ got a hold of me, and after extensive conversation and in-person meetings, he decided I would be good for his program. I will be starting there at the beginning of May. I am beyond ecstatic! I have followed Olivia Dunne for a long time, and I've always heard only good things about ENA's program. I was also incredibly pleased to find that almost everything I wanted to change and implement at my current gym was happening right in front of me at ENA. A lot of my beliefs, methodologies, values, and knowledge have come from the vast experience shared on this website, my own discussions with other coaches, and my own trial and error experiences in the field, and to see it happening at an elite gym was very reaffirming and reassuring that I am on the right track. It will be an incredible experience being involved in the day to day operations of a respectable elite program, and I know I'm going to learn so much. :D

With all this good news, there is, of course, the other side of the coin. The moment I secured the job, I had told my bosses I would be leaving at the end of the season. That was hard, especially because they had treated me so well as a person and an employee, all my previous gripes aside. The hardest part was tonight, when I told the girls... :( This is my second gym change, but it wasn't any easier. There was a lot of sad vibes in the air, but everyone understood my reasons for moving on. I've grown very attached to all these kids, and they've certainly helped me grow as a coach and as a person. I think from this group of kids, I have really learned how to communicate so much better with my athletes, as well as the value of being invested in the person and not just viewing them as a gymnast. It's because of that very reason I find it very difficult to move on from these amazing children. :(

Overall, I had to do this for myself, and for my career, and thus, it is a positive change.

Anyway, thank you all so much for listening! It feels good to share this wonderful news with people who get it. Oh, and thank you to everyone who helped me! You know who you are. ;)

I'm excited for this next chapter of my life.
 

coachmolly

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Jan 18, 2009
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That's great news and very well deserved. You have worked incredibly hard to get where you are and will be a great asset to your new program!
 
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Flyaway

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Jun 1, 2014
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I've always felt the best coaches are the ones that are constantly learning and growing and pushing themselves as hard as they push their gymnasts. You exemplify that. Congratulations on your new adventure! Can't wait to hear more about it as time goes on.
 

Aero

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Jan 1, 2014
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Thank you everyone for the wonderful kind words! I am excited to be schooled and humbled, haha. I am going to see what my coaching style can bring to the culture at ENA. The atmosphere there already seems good, but I'm sure I can contribute!

I have already created some rapport with some of the girls. During one of my past visits about a month and a half ago, Craig threw me in to coach the Level 7s and I was helping this one girl with her back full twist. I'd say she was probably eleven or twelve. The exchange went like this:

Me: "Try setting with your arms a little wider. That way, when you pull down the arms, you'll be able to create a little more twist."
Girl: "Like this?" makes a big Y shape with her arms
Me: "Yes, just not that wide. Also, when you pull the arms in, they should be really close to the body. Think of it like you're wrapping everything up tight."
Girl: "Like a burrito?!"
Me: blinks several times "Yes, just like a burrito. Be the burrito."

Right before she takes her next turn, I say, "wrap the tightest burrito you can!" She does her full and executes it way better. I excitedly proclaim, "that was so much better! You became one with the burrito." I ended up calling her Burrito for the rest of the night and it was fun. Recently, at the Level 6 & 7 Sectional meet when the Level 6 awards were done I saw the Level 7 session coming in and I saw some of the ENA girls I worked with, so I decided to go up and say hi to the girls and the coach. Burrito was there and had a big smile when she saw me. I said, "hey, it's Burrito! How are you?" She laughed, and then I wished them all luck before I left. It made my day that much better. :)
 

JBS

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Sep 3, 2005
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Congrats on the new position... work hard... learn fast!
 
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