Recreational and adaptive gymnastics for kids

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Meet Our Team 

Our coaching team works very hard to make gymnastics a great experience for each of our athletes. Our team is friendly and nurturing, and LOVE working with our athletes to help them achieve their goals and reach their potential. Thank you for trusting us with your kids, and see you in the gym soon!

 

Julie Foster

Position: Operations Director, Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from the University of Florida, specialized in Sports Management. Minor in Entrepreneurship.

Background: Began gymnastics in elementary school and competed through her sophomore year of high school. Prior to Balance 180, she coached recreational and compulsory level classes in Fort Myers, FL and in college she competed with UF Club Gymnastics Team. Volunteers with her church’s children ministry.

Coaching Goal: Set a positive example for the athletes, help them discover their potential, and encourage their passion for gymnastics.

Interests: Exercising, spending time with friends and family, reading, and attending church.

Casey McLaughlin

Position: Program Coordinator; Competitive Adaptive Gymnastics Coach; Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Casey has a Bachelor of Science in Health Education from the University of Florida.

Background: Casey competed as a gymnast for 11 years, making it up to level 8. She started coaching recreational and competitive gymnastics when she was 14 at Tampa Bay Turners in her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida. Casey was the team manager for the Florida Gators Gymnastics team from 2014 to 2019, during which she also gained experience working in collegiate gymnastics. She has experience coaching adaptive gymnastics, as well as developing the competitive adaptive program.

Coaching Goal: Casey hopes to instill life lessons in Balance 180 gymnasts that they can take with them in life after gymnastics. She also wants to educate them on the importance of mental health, as well as the physical health component of the sport.

Interests: Casey enjoys spending time with friends and family, exercising, and learning more about health education.

Joel Thomas

Position: Program Coordinator; Competitive Adaptive Gymnastics Coach; Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Joel studied at Santa Fe College. 

Background: Competitive trampolinist, competed at level 10 and went to Junior Olympics three times. Joel’s best place was 3rd in the nation on tumbling. He has 6 years of experience coaching recreational and 5 years of experience with competitive gymnastics.

Coaching Goal: Help as many kids as possible become the best gymnasts they can be.

Interests: Music, woodworking, metalworking

Julie Walter

Position: Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach, Official Balance 180 Photographer and Blog Writer. 

Education:  Julie is at the University of Florida majoring in Public Relations and Minoring in Innovation.

Gymnastics Background: She was a gymnast for 10 years. She competed in Belgium at age 11 on the Junior National Team. She has been a coach since 2014 at Balance 180. Certified Special Olympics Trainer.

Coaching Goal: Instill confidence, determination, and self-discipline in the athletes, while still emphasizing having fun!

Interests: Writing, reading, photography, CrossFit and anything outdoors!

Andrew Fenton

Position: Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Currently pursuing a doctorate in physical therapy at the University of Florida. 

Background: Gymnast for 10 years, reached Level 6. Before Balance 180, he coached 3 years of coaching kinder-gym, Boys 1 and 2 gymnastics at Tousdell Gymnastics Center in Tallahassee, FL. He is also an American Fitness Institute certified Personal Trainer.

Coaching Goal: I want athletes to have fun and enjoy learning new skills.

Interests: Weightlifting, cycling, Super Smash Brother Melee video game, and loves peanut butter.

Alyssa Harris

Position: Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Alyssa is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology with a Dance Minor on the Pre Physical Therapy track at the University of Florida.

Background: Alyssa did gymnastics growing up and was a competitive cheerleader at Top Gun Cheer and Dance Training Center in Miami, Fl. She then became passionate about dancing and attended New World School of the Arts, a performing arts high school. She was a company member and dance teacher at the dance studio, Artistic Soul Studios. Alyssa has been a dancer for the past 10 years and is currently dancing as a Dance Minor and with University of Florida’s dance company, Danza. She is also certified in Pilates Mat I and II. 

Coaching Goal: To Inspire and motivate young athletes to be the best they can be in and out of the gym.

Interests: Dance, photography, AcroYoga, coaching and teaching children and spending time with family and friends

 

Kortney Gauger

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education:  Graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology. 

Background: Kortney was a gymnast for 6 years growing up, competing through level 6. Afterward, she pursued dance and cheerleading. Before joining the coaching staff at Balance 180, Kortney was (and still is) a volunteer for the Adaptive Gymnastics Program. 

Coaching Goal: Facilitate a positive learning environment in which athletes can overcome challenges, achieve their goals, and learn life skills that will aid them in and beyond gymnastics. 

Interests: Spending time with friends and family, working with children, reading, playing piano, and anything outdoors. 

Dawson Houghtaling

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Dawson is studying evolutionary biology at UF.

Background: He was on the competitive men’s team, competing up to level 9. He then became a men’s gymnastics coach.

Coaching Goal: Help athletes progress and develop a love for the sport I have been involved in my whole life.

Interests: Painting and working with animals

Elayne Nash

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Elayne is working towards Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering at UF.

Background:  She was a competitive gymnast for five years, after retiring Elayne became a recreational gymnastics coach.  She began volunteering with Balance 180 in 2018.

Coaching Goal: I hope to provide a good foundation in not only basic gymnastics but also a fun environment for children to learn and grow.

Interests: Dancing, studying and relaxing with friends.

Eric Lamare Harris

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Eric is currently enrolled at Santa Fe College.

Background: He was a tumbler and eventually started coaching tumbling and recreational gymnastics. 

Coaching Goal: To help and inspire every kid that I can.

Interests: Soccer, tumbling, and music.

Cara Trench

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Cara is studying biochemistry and minoring in Spanish.

Background: Gymnast for 13 years, trained at level 10 for three years.

Coaching Goal: To help others find a home in the gymnastics community.

Interests: Reading, hiking, road trips.

Emily Shelest

Position: Recreational and Competitive Gymnastics Coach

Education: Emily is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Background: Gymnast for 14 years, competing up to level 9. She began coaching in 2015. 

Coaching Goal: To create a great relationship with the staff and gymnasts.

Interests: Photography, travel, crafts, working out, other sports.

Emily Donahue

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Degree in microbiology and cell sciences from UF with a minor in disability in Society.

Background: Emily did gymnastics growing up as well as other sports. She began coaching gymnastics in Naples, FL, before joining the Balance 180 team.

Coaching Goal: To create a fun environment that enhances the development of the athlete’s strength, coordination, and confidence.

Interests: Zumba classes at the gym, going to Disney World, hammocking around campus, and spending time with my friends!

Lillian Zeman

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Lillian is pursuing a bachelors and Master of Public Health at the University of Florida.

Background: Began gymnastics at age two and continued competing throughout high school, training as a level 10 for four years. Coached recreational gymnastics in Clearwater for three years before joining the Balance 180 team. 

Coaching Goal: To create a positive learning environment where the athletes can develop a love and passion for the sport while having fun and achieving their goals.

Interests: Spending time with family and friends, gymnastics, painting and traveling

Marykate Crowley

Position:  Recreational Gymnastics coach

Education:  MaryKate is a Biology Major on the Pre-med track at UF.

Background: MaryKate started volunteering with Balance 180 spring of her freshman semester volunteering with the adaptive program. She continued on that same pattern, and this fall was asked to join the assistant coach team. Before coming to UF, she danced for 13 years. Now, she dances with Extreme Dance Company at the University of Florida. She also spent time as a dance teacher for young kids.

Coaching Goal: To help kids develop not only a love for gymnastics and the necessary skills required for success but to help instill the values of being a part of a team. I hope to encourage communication and friendships amongst athletes, and the listening skills they will need to excel in all the structured activities they will encounter through their childhood. A kids first experience in athletics can make all the difference, and I plan to make it an extremely positive one!

Interests: Dancing and watching cheesy reality tv

Logan Bassoff

Position:  Recreational Gymnastics coach

Education: Logan is currently at studying UF and is CPR certified.

Background: Logan did gymnastics in elementary and middle school and have been an adaptive volunteer since Summer 2017.

Coaching Goal: I want to make a difference in the children’s lives, whether that’s through gymnastics or in regular conversation.

Interests: Working out, going to the beach, and cuddling with her cat.

 

Maddie Dassa

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Maddie is in her junior year of high school. 

Background: Maddie coached for 2 years in South Florida. She has experience volunteering at gymnastics competitions. 

Coaching Goal: To build great relationships with staff and gymnasts

Interests: Cheer, singing, organizing, helping others

Taylor Maderazo

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Bachelor’s Degree from UF in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology.

Background: Worked with adults with special needs through the AIM Adaptive Clinic, volunteered with Aces in Motion teaching children about healthy lifestyles and began working with Balance 180 as a summer camp volunteer.

Coaching Goal: To encourage healthy lifestyle habits and serve as a mentor/guide/friend to the wonderful children who are a part of the Balance 180 program!

Interests: Working out, playing the ukulele, cross-stitching, and playing video games like Super Smash Bros.

Tyler Riley

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Tyler is studying microbiology and cell science on the pre-med track at the University of Florida. 

Background: Grew up doing gymnastics and has been volunteering with Balance 180 since 2017.

Coaching Goal: My goal is to have fun teaching athletes various skills and help them improve each and every week!

Interests: Baseball (I’m on the club baseball team at UF), draw, paint, workout, and do just about anything else outside.

Tori Wilson 

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Tori is pursuing a Doctorate of Physical Therapy at the University of Florida. 

Background: Started as a volunteer assistant coach for Balance 180 in December of 2014 and became a recreational coach in May of 2015. I was a program coordinator from May of 2016 until August of 2017 when I started PT school! 

Coaching Goal: Apply my background in Physical Therapy to improve the quality of recreational classes as well as gain further experience working with a wide range of athletes.

Interests: I joined a CrossFit gym about 6 months ago and I have been LOVING it. It’s a great way to apply the foundations of gymnastics while building tons of strength! It has also helped me to develop stronger strength training understanding and apply that to my patients in clinical rotations for PT school.

Jennifer Farri

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Jennifer is enrolled in the honors program at Santa Fe with plans to transfer to UF pursuing a Bachelors of Science Degree in Applied Physiology and Kinesiology.

Background: She was a gymnast for 16 years and competed through her senior year of high school getting to level 8, and holding many state and regional titles. She became a recreational coach for Balance 180 in June 2019 and worked with the kids at summer camp. She also has experience volunteering with pre-K special needs kids in the classroom setting. 

Coaching Goal: To help children learn to love gymnastics as much as I do!

Interests: watching movies, doing gymnastics, coaching and hanging out with friends

Valerie Washington 

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Valerie did basic training as a hospital corpsman.

Background: She started doing gymnastics when she was 3 years old and made it level 6. She is now a recreational gymnastics coach. 

Coaching Goal: To help kids learn the sport I had fallen in love with.

Interests: Horseback riding and Greek mythology

Gaya Prabhakaran

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Gaya is a sophomore in high school. 

Background: She began volunteering with Balance 180 in 2017. At first volunteering at the Adaptive classes on Saturdays, then continuing on to help out at Special Olympics practices.

Coaching Goal: To help athletes find fun in exercise and contribute to the healthy and positive environment that is Balance 180!

Interests: Running, baking, reading and hanging out with friends, family and my dog.

Vanasia Bradey

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Vanasia is pursuing a degree in sports management at the University of Florida.  

Background: She qualified as an elite gymnast in 2013 and came to UF on a scholarship to complete. Her career ended shortly after due to an injury. She then became a student coach on the gymnastics team for her freshman and sophomore years of college. 

Coaching Goal: My goal here at balance 180 is to gain more experience coaching the sport I love and to form relationships with the kids I will coach and to be able to impact them in a positive way that they will remember for years to come.

Interests: Dancing, reading, practicing calligraphy, and spending time with friends on the beach!

Evie Kelly

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Evie is a senior at Oak Hall High School.  

Background: She has volunteered at Balance 180 summer camp since 2015 and says she always enjoys it! She was also part of Chain Reaction Youth Leadership Council for 2 years, in which she was on a committee that organizes fundraisers for the March of Dimes. She is a member of KeyClub, which is a service club that volunteers for different organizations around the Gainesville community.

Coaching Goal: My goal as a Balance 180 coach is to have a positive impact on the kids. I hope to be able to get them excited about gymnastics and help them accomplish their goals.

Interests: Boating with my family, crafts, spending time with my friends

Mackenzie Greer

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Mackenzie is a junior at Buchholz High School. 

Background: She was a competitive gymnast for 13 years and joined the Balance 180 team during summer camp in 2018. 

Coaching Goal: To help kids have fun in gymnastics and motivate them to work hard and achieve their goals.

Interests: Sports and working out

Jasmine Beaulieu

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Jasmine has B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Applied Behavior Analysis. She is currently pursuing an Ed.S. School Psychology degree from the University of Florida. 

Background: She did gymnastics competitively for about 10 years, and has been coaching levels 2-7 for since 2016. 

Coaching Goal: To inspire kids to love the sport of gymnastics, and to show them all that it has to offer.

Interests: Coaching and spending time with friends and family

Lexi Cunio 

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Lexi has her Bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders from UF and is working on my Doctorate of Audiology.

Background: Lexi has worked on campus since 2014, as a student assistant, a graduate research assistant and a graduate teaching assistant. She taught Public Speaking and ASL II for undergraduates. She also works on a Morgan Horse Farm in town and volunteer at a riding boot camp for kids in Micanopy! She has been volunteering with Balance 180’s Adaptive classes since last summer and spent a few years in undergrad volunteering with HoPE, Horses Helping People, equine-assisted therapy organization.

Coaching Goal: To improve my skills working with children, as I want to be a pediatric audiologist.

Interests:  riding horses and going to yoga – when she’s not loving on the fur babies, of course!

Anna Yoon

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Anna is a Biology major in the pre-medical track. She is also minoring in Soil and Water Sciences. She will be receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in May 2019 and is a certified EMR.

Background: Anna has volunteered at a couple of different departments at Shands Hospital, but her all-time favorite experience is with the Child Life program in the Pediatrics Department for 6 semesters. She is also volunteering with Adaptive Gymnastics and was a gymnast for 7 years. 

Coaching Goal: My main goal as a Balance 180 coach is to not only properly teach gymnastics, but to also teach each gymnast that they have the power, skill, and determination in order to accomplish things. I hope for them to translate and apply the skills that they have learned in the gym to their daily lives outside of the gym, such as teamwork, dedication, and respect.

Interests: relaxing at the beach, wakeboarding, and longboarding. She also loves traveling and immersing herself in different cultures. 

Melissa O’Connell

Position: Recreational Gymnastics Coach

Education: Melissa is studying at the University of Florida. 

Background: Melissa did competitive gymnastics for 8 years. She was the captain of the varsity gymnastics team in high school and choreographed floor routines. She has coached privately for the past 3 years. She also has experience as a dance teacher, choreographer, and camp counselor

Coaching Goal: Have fun with the kids, while helping to achieve skills. 

Interests: Traveling, biking, singing, dancing, gymnastics and art

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