Coach Denise has been at Discovery Programs for two and a half years. She started coaching recreational gymnastics classes and now, in addition to recreational gym, she also coaches team and Parkour!
What is your background in gymnastics?
I grew up doing gymnastics recreationally from age 4 or 5, then I took a break for a few years because of an injury and I did other sports. Then I joined my high school team, so I did competitive high school gymnastics.
What inspired you to become a coach?
I have a cousin who I really look up to. He’s a gymnastics coach and a yoga instructor. Now he’s doing his own thing, he’s backpacking through the U.S. He had a gym in Brooklyn and I always wanted to coach [there]. He was such a great coach in my eyes and he kind of inspired me.
What has your transition to a larger role at Discovery been like, from recreational gymnastics to team and Parkour?
It was tough at first, but it’s definitely very inspiring, the fact that I’ve been given this opportunity to take on a larger role. It’s made me reevaluate my coaching style. Now that I am coaching higher skill levels, it’s also made my recreational coaching even better. I’m looking for form and thinking about my wording with the gymnasts.
What are some of your favorite Discovery memories so far?
I have a lot. I don’t know if it’s cliche to say the team gala, the first one that I was being recognized as a team coach by Mary, Cristian and Katie. Another memory was the first meet that Copper won States. Also, learning how to coach Parkour. That’s a cool thing, [it’s] a unique trait and now I’m kind of multi-versed in not just gymnastics. Watching children develop as gymnasts is such a great memory just in general…watching a child get their first kickover or their first back walkover. Seeing their joy is so joyous for me.
What do you love about working with your students?
I love watching the children develop as gymnasts, some of them young adults. The girls on team, they’re 12, 13, they’re growing into themselves, and they’re not children anymore. At that age they have things going on at home, it’s not just gymnastics and sports. Now they’re learning about life. Just beyond gymnastics, having a bond with children is special. Even though I’m in the gym with them a number of hours a week, they’re still able to talk to me about outside things.
What have you learned from the other coaches?
I’m super appreciative of Mary and Cristian. Joe also, when he teaches Parkour it’s very avant-garde and different and [I think], “I never thought of things like that, I can put this in my gymnastics class.” Mary and Cristian have taught me so much team-wise and coaching and spotting harder level skills. Sometimes I’ll stick around and just listen to their wording or just watch their drills and they’ve taught me a lot. Everyone is super welcoming, no one criticizes you or tries to overstep. I feel like we all work well together.
What are you looking forward to most this semester?
I’m looking forward to just watching the development of all my gymnasts, whether on team or in my recreational classes.