The TEC gymnastics coaches sit on a mat Janalynn Milam won in a raffle at the USA National Gymnastics Congress. Front row, from left, are owner Tammi Britton, Alexis Garcia and Coleen Spraggins. Back row, from left, are Emily Nakagawa, Amparo Garcia, Sabrina Vallez and Milam. (For The Madera Tribune)
TEC Gymnastics owner Tammi Britton took her largest contingent to the USA Gymnastics National Congress this year, which was in San Jose on July 8-10.
“Success is teamwork,” Britton said. “That’s one of the big sayings we came away with. I want all of my staff trained at the highest level possible. These guys are so excited. They brought back so much information. I just go to keep as up-to-date as possible.”
Joining Britton (15th congress) at the congress were coaches Coleen Spraggins (ninth congress), Frank Landeros (fifth), Amparo Garcia (first), Sabrina Vallez (second), Emily Nakagawa (fourth), Alexis Garcia (first) and Jannalyn Milam (first).
“This was the first time me and Tammi took this many girls so we got to hit every cool class we could,” Spraggins said. “We’re going to sit down and go over all the information we learned.”
The coaches were able to take a variety of classes, including business, games, spotting and individual apparatus classes.
“We go to be a better gymnastic coach, check out the vendors and everybody that has to do with gymnastics is there,” Spraggins.
In addition to the congress, San Jose was home to the Olympic gymnastics trials and some of the coaches got to meet with future and former Olympians.
“It was a great weekend,” Landeros said. “I got to say hi to (USA Olympic team coordinator) Marta Karolyi. What a great experience. She is the head of the national team.”
In addition to attending classes, many of Britton’s coaches learned techniques that will help the entire gym.
“Right now, we’re taking what, individually, we learned and incorporating that into our team practices,” Spraggins said. “We are going to meet over the next few weeks to share what we learned so we can get on the same page and all teaching the same stuff the same way.”
With the training she received at the congress, Amparo Garcia hopes to bring a special needs classes to TEC.
“I want to bring a special needs program to TEC,” she said. “I have one gymnast who is autistic. I took every class there was in order to help them and understand what they are going through. I learned a lot of new stuff that I didn’t think I was going to learn. I brought it to the classes and it helped my girl already.”
“There is nothing in this town for special needs,” Spraggins said. “There is no place for them to go for release and have some kind of activity. Noe we’re getting to expand, we will have the opportunity and room to incorporate a special needs class, even if it’s just one or two times a week. Hopefully, we can be the leaders for something kids and parents to enjoy.”
Spraggins said she got a kick out of seeing first-timers Milam, Amparo and Alexis Garcia react to how intense the congress can be.
“Everyone is a gymnast or an ex-gymnast so it was like a gymnastics world,” Spraggins said. “You talk to other gyms and talk to other people. Your brain is on gymnastics overload. It’s super overwhelming.”
“It was amazing,” Alexis Garcia said. “It was very eye-opening. It was so much to comprehend. They made it fun.”
“I was just so excited to go back to the hotel to talk to them about what I learned,” Milam said.
However, the most important thing about congress are the classes that will help the coaches with their gymnasts.
“I took a lot of beam classes,” Milam said. “I learned tons of full-turns, leaps and jumps drills. Even at the elite level, the full turns still get them. To start it here when they are young, perfecting that, will help them throughout their entire gymnastics career.”
“ I took a lot of upskill classes,” Spraggins said. “I took a lot of upper stuff. It gave me a lot of information on just how to get them to do stuff that looks impossible.”
“It’s all about the skill and the perfection of the skill,” Landeros said. “The Olympic champions, they are making their skills better every time. There is a timing change I wasn’t aware of. All those little details, they start popping up and it’s easier to see my students to see what they are doing right and doing wrong.
“There’s a lot of camaraderie there. Everybody wants everybody to get better. It’s not like I’m going to take this information and hold it. It’s like I’m going to share it so everyone can get better because that’s what the gymnastics community is about. We’re looking for Olympic athletes. You set a high standard and go for the best. If they get to college, if they just want to do it until they do other sports, gymnastics is going to help them anyway. It has all the qualities of every single sport.”
“I took a lot of the business classes,” Britton said. “They always have new stuff they can use. I did do some bars, beam and floor classes for competition. They were amazing. They pulled in a guy that owned five swim schools and showed what he did to build that.”
“I took all levels of classes because I like coaching different levels,” Nakagawa said. “I liked the parent talk classes and a sports science class. One of the neat things they talked about was the importance of crawling. Kid that want to stand right away and don’t crawl. But the cross-brain activity affects everything.”
“I took mostly recreation classes because that’s what I teach at the gym,” Vallez said. “I took some trampoline classes and hands-on spotting classes. They teach you that gymnastics is not about doing the skill, it’s about having fun. While you’re teaching the skill, have fun with it. I want to implement all the fun things I learned at the gym. I want to teach the kids the right way to do things and make sure to have fun with all the conditioning. We want them to have fun with their gymnastics experience.”
In addition to spending time in classes, the coaches were able to enjoy themselves out of classes, which included doing various gymnastics moves on everything from pillars to fountains and even while sitting around.
“I felt like the bonding experience with the coaches was my favorite time,” Garcia said. “We never had time to be with each other. That was my best part.”
Also, two of the coaches won raffle prizes that were worth more than $1,500 combined.
“I won an eight-inch mat in a raffle,” Milam said. “They just called me up on the last day. It was an $800 mat. It was awesome. I was dancing down the aisle to get it.”
“Tammi and I have the worst luck here so we brought our good luck charms,” Spraggins said.
“I won a raffle basket that had a free ticket to next year’s congress (in Anaheim), a gift certificate for Disneyland and other stuff,” Vallez said.
No matter the time spent in the various classes, the eight TEC Gymnastics coaches can’t wait for next year’s congress.
“From the smallest detail to the biggest detail, it was so much fun,” Amparo Garcia said.
TEC Gymnastics will host its first Olympics-style competition in August.
The students will march in with an Olympic torch, perform on the four Olympic events (balance beam, uneven bars, vault and floor exercises) and end with a short group routine on August 13 at 9 a.m.
The cost is $5 for spectators and a photographer will be there for photos. For information, contact TEC Gymnastics at 661-8321.