Redwood Coast Gymnastics team enjoys success


The Redwood Coast Gymnastics Team whom train at the gym Flips for Kids in Eureka sent one gymnast to Las Vegas, and 4 gymnasts to Reno to compete at their Regional meets in April.

Region 1 includes California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona. To get the amazing opportunity to compete at a Regional Championship, a gymnast must first qualify to the State Championship meet, which 6 gymnasts successfully completed. At the State Championships, the gymnast must receive a score of 34, 40 being the highest score, in the All Around to earn the opportunity to enter the Regional Championships. These 5 athletes mark the largest group of qualifiers, and Iris Smart, 14, of Eureka became the highest scoring level 8 (there are 10 levels) in 15 years at RCG.

Training up to 4-5 days a week, a gymnast learns to defy laws of gravity while balancing on a 4 inch beam 4 feet off the ground, to practice swinging like a monkey from bar to bar and endure “rips” on the skin of their hands, to charge full speed at a stationary vault only to bounce up on it and dismount into a flip hoping to stick the landing, and to gain the poise and grace of a dancer while performing a routine that includes many tumbling passes on a spring floor. And then there is the strength training! The abdominal muscles and arms of a gymnast are developed and tightened to hold handstands longer than most spend brushing their teeth in the morning.

A gymnast on the RCG team begins her journey as a Level 3 gymnast and competes in both the fall and spring seasons, always traveling out of the area up to 8 USAG sanctioned meets. Once the gymnast earns a qualifying score to compete at the State Level and has mastered the next level skills, she can be promoted. Regional Championship competitions are only available to gymnasts at Level 6 and above.

Macy Bode, 10, of Eureka promoted two levels during the competitive season, from Level 4 to Level 6, qualifying to both State and Regionals. Kelli Koressel, 13, earned first place in the All Around at a meet, and her highest All Around score at Regionals with a 36.675. Emily Pesch, 13, of Eureka overcame some fear and upped her game to qualify to Regionals and garnered a 35.175 in the All Around. And Riley Cress, 14, of Eureka, achieved 4th place on vault at State, and finished at Regionals with a 36.425 in the All Around. RCG has also just welcomed 3 new gymnasts to the team, bringing the total to 17 girls ranging in age from 8-14. This disciplined group of girls is very supportive of each other, earn good grades in school, and enjoy spending time together at team sleepovers hosted at the gym, and occasionally go bowling or wolf down some frozen yogurt together.

Currently, the Head Coach is Brian Van Pelt and the assistant coach is Rina Kondo. Brian got involved in gymnastics at age 12 and has been involved ever since. After a shoulder injury ended his aspirations as an athlete, he turned fully to coaching. Brian has been coaching here in the Humboldt Bay Area since 1989. Rina Kondo is a former Level 9 gymnast from Diablo Gymnastics in San Ramon, CA. She has been coaching since 2006.

The Redwood Coast Gymnastics Boosters is holding their annual SPONSORSHIP DRIVE. They just received their non-profit 501c3 status with the Federal Government and will be seeking donations from the local community to help further train these outstanding athletes by purchasing new equipment and to help offset costs to attend sanctioned meets. If you would like to become a sponsor, or would like to make a donation, please contact Toni Smart, President of the Booster Club, at (707) 601-8061.