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Rugby Gymnastics celebrates 30th anniversary

By Staff | Sep 20, 2013

Rugby Gymnastics is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The popularity of the program is at an all-time high, with 201 kids signed up to participate this fall from Rugby and surrounding communities. Chris Bieri/PCT

It started 30 years ago, with local kids tumbling in the upstairs of the Rugby Swimming Pool.

And this year, Rugby Gymnastics has more than 200 youths registered.

It was established in 1983 as Carlan Kraft was president of the association. In 1986, the enrollment was around 100 and has maintained that level until recently, according to Cindy Kuntz, who took over the program with Stacy Friestad in 1998.

“The last 2-3 years we’ve been very close to 200,” she said. “Before that it was around 100. It’s seemed to steadily increase. We’ve got kids from Bottineau, Leeds, Wolford, Rolette, even Minot. They’re coming from everywhere.”

Since the early days at the pool, the program has changed and evolved. Early on, a Show Team started, and was coached by Larry Stammen in 1983. The head coach changed over the years to include Lynne Folden, Connie Clevens in the early 1990s. The program moved to the upstairs of the Memorial Hall in the 1990s. The team was taken over by Sheryl Shivley and LuAnn Johnson. The club started a competitive USGA gymnastics team in the 1990’s that competed on the state level.

Kuntz said she got involved because her daughter got into gymnastics. Many start as early as age 2 or 3, but go on to compete in other sports.

“Most of our kids that are in gymnastics, they go on to play basketball and track,” she said. “A lot of the good high school athletes were in gymnastics when they were younger. The parents see that and the earlier they get started being active the better they become. Some of the best jumpers in high school have been gymnasts.”

Kuntz said that parents and ex-gymnasts are very active in Rugby gymnastics.

The Show Team coaches currently are Cindy Kuntz, Eric Kuntz, Tami Mayer, and Lori Miron. Lyndsy Bush, Lyndsey Graner, Cari Oppen, Mindy Stier, and John Harner are also part of the coaching staff.

The program runs from September to March, and each group practices once a week. The Show Team generally does 4-5 performances a year at basketball games and other events.

Kuntz said the community has greatly supported the program, and that the coaches try to focus on fun.

“They just go one hour, once a week,” she said. “We do keep it fun. We pretty much call ourselves recreational. The kids just have fun. You go to the bigger gyms and they’re really strict. We’ve got the community behind us as well.”

Kuntz said this year there are 47 boys and 154 girls in the program.

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