Gymnastics future up in the air

Gymnastics future up in the air

Community members have raised concerns about Mount Gambier’s only gymnastics club potentially closing after nearly 30 years due to what is believed to be a lack of intermediate coaches and judges.

The Blue Lake Gymnastic Club formed in 1996 after the amalgamation of two gymnastics clubs and has remained at its current purpose built facility at Malseed Park since 1998.

Lauren Drenthen (nee Manser) was first involved with the Blue Lake Gymnastic Club as a gymnast for 12 years, five of which she also coached and later spent a few years teaching kinder gym at the facility.

Mrs Drenthen also coached in competition programs in Adelaide at Seacliff Gymnastics Club and YMCA Gymnastics Glengowrie.

Mrs Drenthen said she applied for two positions the club posted on the South East Job Seekers Facebook page in January.

“I applied for the positions, did not hear anything for about a month and then was told the positions were not going to be filled at that point because they were looking at other options,” she said.

“There is at least one person that I am aware of that also applied but there are also other experienced coaches in the community that I believe would be willing to come back and coach.

“When I asked what the other options were, it was suggested they were looking at potentially selling the club for someone to run as a private business which concerned me because it has always been a community run club.

“I reached out to the Mount Gambier Council and they told me that if the gymnastic club were to vacate their building that it would default to West Gambier Football Club because they are the primary leaseholder at Malseed Park.

“I then spoke to the president of the football club and he told me that he had been given the impression from the gymnastics club that no one was willing to support them in keeping the club open and that was why they were looking at selling so they had not let him know they had advertised and had any applicants.”

Mrs Drenthen said it has been suggested that someone could buy the equipment to continue running the club which she does not see as a viable solution.

“As the club is an incorporated club, it does not make any sense to sell the equipment for the club to then gain all of this money which according to the constitution, the money would then have to just be given to another community group anyway,” she said.

“It just seems like a very roundabout way to continue the club running is to make someone go into debt to buy the equipment to then have to just give the money away because the incorporation will then dissolve.

“I question how closing altogether, or selling could be better than allowing the club to continue as an incorporated club.

“I just feel like it’s not fair to not give someone else the opportunity to run the club if the current committee and head coach or other coaches want to move on.

“I have a long relationship with the club and I have been involved in lots of other capacities as well across the years and I just want to see kids in this community continue to have the opportunity to train at a 

A concerned parent of a Blue Lake Gymnastic Club student said they were advised in a meeting in January by head coach Chris Hastie the club had advertised for staff and the response they received was minimal and inexperienced.

“We were advised there would be changes to the kids’ training night because they do not have enough coaches,” they said.

“She did say that if it continued to go in the way that it is going then they may not be running at all next year.

“She did say that she would do her best to keep the club going this year and that if that meant she had to pay coaches from other clubs just to get them through then they would do that as well.

“It did get me the fact that she said she was willing to pay coaches from other clubs to help get us through and then I hear experienced coaches being ignored for positions.

“It was all made to sound like they are struggling, they have no coaches and they have no choice but to close because they do not have enough staff.

“It is very sad to think they may close and then there is no option for gymnastics in Mount Gambier.”

Ms Hastie declined to comment in depth about the situation when contacted by The SE Voice.

“There has been no decisions made at this point in time and we are exploring all options that are available to us,” Ms Hastie said.

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