Local gymnast get ready for first meet of the year | SkyHiNews.com

Local gymnast get ready for first meet of the year

Photo by Kristen LodgeCoach Jessa Wenstrom works with Katrina Quinn during Wednesday's practice at the Grand Park Community Recreation Center

Hoppy Hayes has been a gymnastic coach for longer than 30 years. The program she runs out of the Grand Park Recreation Center in Fraser is C.A.R.A certified, which is a recreational association allowing children to try the sport and compete if they want. Hayes’ favorite aspect of coaching these children is “to see the improvement over time.”

Emily Hafford, 12, could barely do a forward roll when she started, said Hayes. Now, she will be competing at Level 4.

Hafford will be competing against other girls her age during their first meet on Saturday in Denver.

“She wanted to compete, so she talked to her parents about it,” Hayes said. “I didn’t want her to be embarrassed during a competition, so I told her to give it a try and not to be upset if she’s not on a podium.”

Hafford has the athletic drive and loves it, even practicing at home, Hayes said.

Several levels of gymnasts practice during the week in Fraser. Level 4 are beginners who work on compulsory routines, and all routines are the same in competition. The next level is Optional Girls, which includes gymnasts who can create their own routines as long as they use certain elements. The routines many-times showcase their personalities.

Hayes is assisted by three coaches for all these levels.

Jessa Wenstrom is the Optional head coach, coming from a gymnastics background herself, competing at Level 10. (Level 11 is the highest, elite level.)

Coach Tammy Eatough works with the gymnasts’ choreography, and polishes the routines some create on their own. She also coaches her daughter, Bri, who is on the team.

While Hayes works primarily with the entry-level gymnasts, she is preparing them with a solid foundation for working with Wenstrom and Eatough as they progress in skill.

Hayes, a self-confessed “big kid,” loves to coach the Little Hoppers, the mom-and-me (and dads, too) class for toddlers.

She started a gymnastics program in a 2,200 square-foot warehouse in Tabernash with one beam, one set of uneven bars, a vault horse, and a trampoline.

“We had to open the garage doors to get enough speed for the vault,” she said with a laugh.

“I miss the warehouse, sometimes.”

She said she feels blessed to have this facility in Fraser, and while it was being built, consulted on the construction of the multi-sport gymnasium along with Chris Seemann who coaches aerial ski teams.

The girls and boys teams practice every Wednesday and Friday, and an Open Gym is available on Sundays for two hours.

The girls’ first meet on Saturday will include floor, balance beam, vault, and uneven bars events.

The first meet is always mentally difficult for the girls, said Hayes, because it is stressful and they need to remember their routine.

“Each kid is different, some are nervous, and some, it doesn’t even faze them,” she said.

Prior to the start of the program, Hayes discusses with each girl what they hope to accomplish and what they want to do. “Some girls just want to work out and not compete.”

She encourages girls to attend a meet and see what they want to do, and if they like it.

Dave Peterson is the boys coach, and the boys team will have its first meet in Denver on June 1.

Look for the gymnastic team in Granby’s Fourth of July parade and at the Fireworks at the Fraser Ball Fields. They will be fundraising and performing during the two summer events.

– Kristen Lodge can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19610.