Conversations with … Hoppy Hayes |

Conversations with … Hoppy Hayes

by Stephanie Miller
Sky-Hi Daily News

Hoppy Hayes is the gymnastics coach for the Fraser Valley Recreation Metropolitan District. She moved to Colorado 26 years ago from Exton, Penn., and has lived in Tabernash for five years.

When Hayes first moved to the Fraser Valley, she held a variety of jobs, including working at Devil’s Thumb Ranch and cooking and cleaning at the Woodspur Lodge.

She has a background in teaching health and physical education, and she eventually ended up teaching a small gymnastics program for the elementary school. She has been teaching for the recreation district for 15 years, and has been coaching the Fraser Valley Blizzards gymnastics team for five years at the Tabernash warehouse.

She also teaches soccer to 5-year-olds during soccer season.

Q. How many gymnastics classes do you teach?

A. Let’s see, two in the morning, every morning. Typically two in the afternoon . . . and birthday parties on the weekends.

Q. You must have a lot of energy.

A. That’s where ‘Hoppy’ comes from. My dad gave me that, because I was a rather busy child.That’s before they came up with hyper activity ” I don’t think I was a hyper kid, but when I was up, I was busy.

Q. What’s your real name?

A. Leslie. But I don’t think too many people know me by that name.

Q. Why did you start teaching?

A. I did gymnastics when I was a kid. I probably started when I was in second grade, until I was a junior in high school. Then I wanted to do other sports. I did competitions (in gymnastics), but I was very shy. You gotta be a ham. When the music starts and you’re in front of people … I just wasn’t great at performing. I’d get so nervous I’d forget my routine. I can relate to all the kids going through the competition level now. But I loved working out and practicing new skills.

Q. What do you enjoy the most about teaching?

A. I just love the kids. They just keep me going. I think I have as much fun (as they do). There’s a lot of teachers out there that won’t be a kid with them, and play and do all those things. I think that’s why kids like to come. My main philosophy with gymnastics is it has to be fun ” otherwise the kids aren’t going to come.

Q. What do you find the most challenging?

A. What is challenging to me is keeping things different and fun for the kids. Every time they come in, I try to have a different obstacle course set up. I get bored, I figure the kids do too. I like to make it challenging for them plus myself.

Q. Name one of the funniest things you’ve seen teaching gymnastics.

A. One of the boys was on the tramp, and he was doing a front-flip or some kind of really cool spin. I kept seeing him pull up his pants and he did this spin and his pants fell down. He was laughing too, but the kids ” the other boys were teasing him about that. I always tell the kids to pack a pair of sweatpants. It’s hard to do stuff in jeans.

Q. When was your proudest moment?

A. Nicole Rhodes. She won in her age group in states. And that’s the first girl we’ve had win a gold medal in all-around in the five years we’ve been here. Megan Lavado, Lauren Rimmer and Nicole all won medals in states. It’s amazing to look at these kids then, and now, to see how far we have come. That’s kinda neat ” states is a big deal. A lot of kids just can’t do it ” it’s too much for them. Nicole is kind of a rock. And she nailed it.

Q. Why do you think gymnastics is important?

A. I feel ” and I’m not saying this because I make my living doing gymnastics instruction ” I think it’s one of the only sports that requires your whole body. You have to have balance, flexibility, strength and stamina. It’s one of those sports that takes everything. And I like to think that if you’re balanced in your body, then hopefully you’re balanced in your mind.

Q. What do you think of the rec. center ballot issues passing?

A. It’s awesome. It’s going to be so exciting. You’ll be able to do so many more things.

I was thinking, I could stay here, but it’s costing the rec. district money to pay rent, to pay for this facility, and it’s too small, especially for the competition kids. I still have kids on the waiting list for my classes because we can’t fit them all in.

Q. What do you hope will happen once the rec. center is built?

A. One of my main things is to have a full floor for the girls ” and the other kids ” 42 feet by 42 feet. That’s bigger than this whole building. So that’ll be nice. And to have a tramp set in the ground, and a pit ” a big foam pit ” for birthday parties, ropes . . . That and just being able to offer more classes, so I can stop cleaning ” my other job ” and just be the gymnastics coordinator and work at the rec. center. That has always been one of my dreams ” to be teaching recreation in a facility.

To reach Stephanie Miller, call (970) 887-3334, ext. 19601 or e-mail

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