Welcome to the BHG team, Erin! When was your official start date?

September 2nd, 2019.

How are you liking it so far?

I like it, but it’s quite a change! At my old gym, I was in charge of almost everything, so it’s
different, but I’m enjoying it so far. I came up here because I wanted the chance to be
mentored by Coach Li. Overall, it’s an amazing opportunity!

How is it different from other opportunities or positions?

Well, back in 2016 I first came to Black Hills Gym with Camp of Champions, an organization that goes to different gyms each year and teaches the sport. I’m very fortunate to be able to coach with Camp of Champions because of the caliber of coaches I’m with. Every coach is either an Olympic coach, or elite coaches, or just has a really big name in gymnastics; I do not have a really big name in gymnastics! When we came coach at Black Hills in 2016 and I fell in love with the facility.
The other gym I was at the areas were very small and very limiting. It’s sooo nice to have so
much more equipment. Also, at my old gym, I did not feel supported. It felt like I gave
everything to that place, all the time and energy, everything. I just felt I didn’t get much in
return… Here everybody is super invested! BHG is great because it focuses SOLELY on
gymnastics. Many places have other sports or disciplines along with gymnastics, so it’s nice to just have everybody focused on gymnastics. Lastly there’s a system in place that everybody is following, which I love!

How long have you been coaching?

29 years. I started coaching to help pay for my gymnastics. I started coaching at 13! The one day a week, I didn’t have training I came in and I coached the Hotshot program. Then when I was 15 I started coaching for real with my own classes.

What has it meant or done for you?

I feel like I’m really so not overly confident about a lot of things in my life. But about coaching, I AM confident. I can relate and work with kids really well. I think one of my best character assets I have as a coach is that I feel like I do a good job of making hard work cool. Helping athletes establish pride in themselves, even at the age of like, five is an awesome role I play. It’s a cool opportunity to be a good person in kids live because I think it’s important that kids have good adults in their life other than their parents.

What are a couple of your favorite moments or memories from your coaching career up to this point?

There’s a girl at my old gym whose dad (who’s NOT a softy) cried when he found out I was
leaving. He says that I’ve done for his kids something nobody else has ever done because everybody is so soft with them. I wasn’t one to say “Oh, you’re so special,
you’re so amazing!” I actually held them to a standard and I was tough with them. And they
could tell I cared.

This girl had so much anxiety, she couldn't even come to a gymnastics class originally. Her anxiety simply shut her life down. We started working together, then she made it onto developmental team. That was my team and I’m not an easy coach when people are watching. Then she was able to compete! Her parents said, “We tried everything to help her out with her anxiety. We’ve tried psychiatrists, we’ve tried art therapy, it seems we’ve tried everything! Nothing has worked until you came into her life.” That has brought the most joy in my life in the past few years. It’s hard to put into words, but it did something for me, not just for my athlete. You gotta love giving kids tools to not only become better gymnasts, but to tools that are going to carry them through the rest of their life.

At the Camp of Champions, there was one coach there who had coached several Olympians. He was there as a problem solver or to teach other coaches who came to the camp. But he was just everything. And it felt really amazing because he was watching me run beam. I was running beam with two former Olympians, and somebody who is coaching some elite gymnast right now. And I thought I didn’t teach it that well, actually, because I was tired. But he came up to me afterwards. And he said, “You know how to teach. The other coaches here, they can coach but, you know how to teach!”
And I think that just helping the kids who have outside stuff going on. I think gymnastics is a microcosm of what they're going through in the rest of their life. I like them to be able to come in and feel supported and loved by their second family. But at the same time they need to be I held accountable. I take pride in watching my kids kick butt! Not necessarily just with score, but just how they carry themselves. They’re so strong.

What are you most excited about for 2020?

I think just getting settled in here and having an opportunity to learn from Coach Li.
As you can tell, we’re extremely excited to have Erin with us at Black Hills gymnastics. We even got the chance to speak to a couple parents of athletes at her old gym, and what they said lets us know we made an excellent choice.

“She not only sees athletes, she sees the people they are. I was always impressed with how shecould communicate the physical, mental, and emotional skills my daughter needed to learn.”

“The work she did with my daughter gave her the confidence to face almost any challenge after years of severe anxiety. We’ll really miss her, but we’re excited for her and know she left a big imprint on a lot of kids’ lives.”