Minneapolis gymnastics programs land pinpoint place to practice

  • Article by: JIM PAULSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 4, 2014 - 6:45 PM

Four Minneapolis high school gymnastics programs have carved a novel practice facility out of an old city school building.


Aris Iwaszko, 12, left, and Elizabeth Webster, 12, both members of the South/Roosevelt team, worked out on a low beam. Now that the city schools have a facility, the goal has become to be competitive with the top programs in the area.

Photo: Marlin Levison,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


Barefoot girls in leotards and practice shorts tumble and pirouette, balancing here, flipping there. It’s the organized chaos of a high school gymnastics practice, no different from any one of the 80 or so prep programs across the metro area.

With one big exception: This is a practice for teams in the Minneapolis City Conference. Three teams were using the space one day last week, housed in the first gymnastics-only facility to serve the city schools.

After years of making do with inadequate spaces and obsolete equipment, the four teams in the Minneapolis conference — Edison/Henry/North, South/Roosevelt, Washburn and Southwest — finally have a place of their own. The gymnasium at the old North Star Elementary building on 24th and Girard avenues in north Minneapolis had been sitting empty nearly two years since the departure of a charter school.

The equipment isn’t cutting edge, but it is up to date. There is a permanent spring floor, three balance beams (actually four, but parts for the fourth were lost during the move), two vaulting tables and two sets of uneven parallel bars.

“This is the biggest thing to happen to gymnastics in the city in my eight years coaching here,” said Edison/Henry/North coach Cassandra Guzman Meyering. “This just looks like a [gymnastics] club and that’s something we’ve never had before.”

There has been plenty of hand-wringing and concern about the fate of high school sports in the city. Gymnastics may not carry the high profile of basketball, but a step taken to encourage growth is seen as a positive sign.

“I’m a Minneapolis South kid,” South/Roosevelt coach Gabrielle Stickney said. “I was a gymnast here. It’s a great thing for the city teams.”

The site of the gym has long been coveted by city gymnastics coaches, who thought they had it secured eight years ago. But they lost the opportunity when the space was leased to a charter school. When it became available again two years ago, the coaches mobilized.

“I was skeptical,” said Guzman Meyering, who headed up the project of persuading the school board. “We had lost it before. I wasn’t going to believe it until we moved the equipment in.”

The advantages of having their own gym are greater than just a home base. Accessibility, safety and development are among the added benefits.

“We used to have to haul out our equipment and put it up and tear it back down before and after every practice,” Washburn coach Carrie Sartin said. “That’s not easy. When people looked at gymnastics, they saw work.”

Avoiding the prep work, Roosevelt sophomore Tiffany Bingham said, is a reason for celebration.

“Just being able to come to a gym and have everything ready makes it way more fun,” she said.

Sharing the facility allowed schools to cobble together the best of their equipment. A spring floor was added for the floor exercise and double-padded runways for vault, which has put less stress on the gymnasts’ legs.

“We have had far fewer shin splints and ankle injuries,” Sartin said. “It’s been so much better.”

The next step will be to reconfigure the gym to allow for meets the be held there. For the past two years, Minneapolis Conference teams have had to compete at St. Paul Como Park, Highland Park and Johnson, which have more readily available facilities. With a little redecorating, the gym will be able to host meets next year.

After that, the long-term goal is to be competitive with the top programs in the area.

  • related content

  • The old North Star Elementary building in north Minneapolis has a large gymnastics facility that is used simultaneously by three area high school gymnastics teams.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


St. Louis - LP: A. Wainwright 1 FINAL
Pittsburgh - WP: J. Locke 3
Texas - WP: C. Lewis 12 FINAL
Seattle - LP: E. Ramirez 4
Washington 4 Bottom 6th Inning
Philadelphia 5
Tampa Bay 3 Top 9th Inning
Baltimore 1
Boston 2 Top 9th Inning
Toronto 5
NY Yankees 8 Top 7th Inning
Detroit 2
Atlanta 3 Top 9th Inning
NY Mets 2
Chicago Cubs 2 Bottom 7th Inning
Cincinnati 6
Cleveland 1 Bottom 5th Inning
Chicago WSox 2
Minnesota 1 Top 7th Inning
Kansas City 0
Oakland 0 Bottom 5th Inning
Houston 0
Milwaukee 0 Top 3rd Inning
San Diego 0
Los Angeles 0 Top 1st Inning
Arizona 0
Miami - H. Alvarez 9:05 PM
LA Angels - H. Santiago
Colorado - F. Morales 9:15 PM
San Francisco - T. Hudson
Atlanta 8/28/14 5:00 PM
Detroit 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Indianapolis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Kansas City 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Green Bay
NY Jets 8/28/14 6:00 PM
St. Louis 8/28/14 6:00 PM
Carolina 8/28/14 6:30 PM
New England 8/28/14 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 8/28/14 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 8/28/14 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Denver 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Minnesota 8/28/14 7:00 PM
San Francisco 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Arizona 8/28/14 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 8/28/14 9:00 PM
(21) Texas A&M 8/28/14 5:00 PM
(9) So Carolina
Wake Forest 8/28/14 6:02 PM
Boise State 8/28/14 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 8/28/14 7:00 PM
Temple 8/28/14 8:15 PM
Rutgers 8/28/14 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 8/28/14 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
D.C. 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM





question of the day

Poll: How many games will the Timberwolves win this season?

Weekly Question


Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters