“Coming together was our beginning… keeping together has been our progress…
But working together has been and is our success”
In 1981, Charlottetown had two gymnastics clubs that were rapidly outgrowing their present facilities and unable to meet the needs of their individual members. These clubs were the YMCA Saltos and the West Kent Tumblers. Boosted by the enthusiasm of their coaches, a joint committee of parents from the two clubs was formed and in September of 1981, the Island Gymnastics Academy opened their doors. Under the direction of its 5 senior staff and Board of Directors, they developed a mission statement, a constitution and established goals and objectives. The Island Gymnastics Academy became incorporated as a non-profit organization on November 19, 1981.
The Academy has grown to accommodate over 200 preschoolers, 200 recreation gymnasts, and 100 competitive gymnastics. At least 1100 different children are registered with the club and GPEI each year. Along with the program offered at the full time training facility, they have run gymnastics programs in Montague, Cornwall, Sherwood, Stratford and West Royalty.
The Academy has a volunteer Board of Directors, with executive and committees who govern the club. Over the thirty year history, more than 100 people have served on the board of directors. As well, a large base of parent and friends of the Academy volunteer each year to meet the needs of the children and young adults who take part in Academy activities. An example would be their diligence in 1993, when the academy had to vacate their facility at the old Charlottetown Airport. Over 1000 hours were volunteered in November just prior to Christmas to make ready their new home at Oak Tree Place.
1981-1991 Provincial Vocational Institute (Holland College Royalty Centre) 1991-1993 Old airport terminal – St Peters Road – renovated-torn down
1993- 1998 Oak Tree Place – renovated – sold
1998 Holland College Royalty Centre-temporary- June – November 1998
1998-2000 Charlottetown Civic Centre – temporary- Nov 98 – June 2000
2000- Holland College Royalty Centre (House of Sport) – permanent
The facility and equipment acquirement stories could fill pages. Thirty years of dealing with less than ideal situations both difficult and comical, but always finding solutions.
Two of the original five senior staff are still employed with Island Gymnastics Academy. The club has developed a coaching education system that values the development of its coaches just as much as the progress of its children. Along with four program directors and an administrator, they have a staff of 24 junior and senior coaches. All staff over 16 years of age have certification in the national coaching certification program ranging from the minimum of Level l technical to fully certified Level IV, the highest level attainable. Through 30 years, the Academy coaches (who were former gymnasts) have had the opportunity to continue to grow and develop into remarkable contributing citizens. Their individual histories of achievement are stars on the Academy’s banner.
Whether a gymnasts goal has been getting the silver badge in the recreation Can Gym Program or reaching National team status, the Island Gymnastics Academy takes great pride in the successes of its athlete’s over the past 30 years. The Academy has developed over 200 Provincial Champions, many Atlantic Champions and they have even medaled at National Championships. Today they are training future champions coming from allover PEI.
- 1980 meeting of joint committees YMCA/West Kent Tumblers
- 1981 Incorporation of new Island Gymnastics Academy November 19th.
- 1981 PEI Athletes first compete at Nationals, all Academy members
- 1981 began annual fruit sale
- 1981 Annual Summer Camp Program started
- 1981 began hosting competitions- PEISAA Unit Meets, PEISAA Provincial Championships, Qualifying meets, Provincial Championships,
Atlantic Championships and Canadian Championships
- 1983 first Winter Carnival Competition, now 29th year – Prince Edward Classic
- 1983 first Gym Show – 2012 will be 29th show
- 1983 87, 91, 95, 99, 2003, 2007, 2011 Canada Games teams and coaches
- 1982 hosted National Boys Age Group Nationals
- 1985 designated as Provincial Boys Training Centre
- 1986 brought Chinese National Team Coach, Yong Mei Li to club to coach
- 1989 started Rhythmic Gymnastics on PEI
- 1990 hosted US/Canada training camp and international competition
- 1991 training facility for Canada Games and formed organizing committee
- 1994 hosted National Championships
- 2011 hosted Canadian Gymnastics Championship – Artistic and Trampoline
Development of the Sport
Many individual members of the Academy have risen to prominence in the Sport through their volunteer work in the leadership area. Year after year many of the positions on the PEI Gymnastics Association have been held by Academy volunteers. All prominent officials in the sport over the past 30 years have been club members right up to National level judges. Several staff members have served on Provincial Sport Development committees and with Gymnastics Canada.
The Island Gymnastics Academy has been the focal point for development on PEI and was and is the venue for clinics every year.