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Gymnasts flock to trampoline clinic in Cortez

National championship-level coach draws from across the Four Corners

Joy Umenhofer Stovall, a coach of national championship-winning teams, visited Stormy’s ATC Gymnastics in Cortez this week to hold a free trampoline clinic. The clinic drew more than 80 students, with some coming from as far away as Moab, Utah.

Stovall came to Cortez with an extensive resumé.

She was integral in the development of the USA Gymnastics Tumbling and Trampoline program and serves as the current USA Trampoline Development Center coordinator and head coach of the trampoline and tumbling program. She also has been on the coaching staff of multiple national teams.

Students ages 2 to 17 filled the gym Tuesday to participate in the first day of Stovall’s clinic. While many students previously participated in gymnastics, some were trying it for the first time.

Regardless of a student’s experience, Stovall started with the basics.

She reminded students that having strong foundational skills will allow them to progress and perfect their skills as they continue training.

Some “basics” included using foam rods to train students to keep their arms in the right position while jumping, practicing arm movements during jumps and working on body positioning.

As the class progressed, Stovall helped students improve previously learned skills and introduced them to new skills.

Her enthusiasm and encouragement had students smiling and eager to learn.

During the two-hour afternoon session on Tuesday, students worked their way through basic jumps and back drops to front and back flips, with a few beginning to learn to add twists to their flips.

Stovall’s connection to Cortez comes in the form of gym owner Randy Quillin, who worked with Stovall in Pocatello, Idaho, in the early 2000s. Quillin said his goal in bringing Stovall to Cortez was to offer the students an opportunity they would not otherwise have in a small town.

He hopes to bring a new high-level coach to the area each year.

Bringing Stovall to Cortez was aided by a $2,000 grant from Friends of Recreation for a Healthy Community, a local nonprofit group that sponsors scholarships and grants. The grants offered by the group go toward the fees and expenses of bringing high-caliber coaches to the area.

Friends of Recreation president Debi Berger said the group began offering grants four years ago when fundraising efforts provided money beyond what was needed for the Cortez Recreation Center’s low-income scholarships they offer.

Funds left over after scholarships are awarded are then offered to local recreation programs that facilitate bringing unique recreational opportunities to the Cortez area.

Past years have brought an NBA basketball coach, an acrobatics expert and an Olympic swimmer.

Groups interested in applying for a Friends of Recreation grant may apply through Onward! A Legacy Foundation online at www.onwardfoundation.org.