Athletes from Stallone Gymnastics in Fleetwood have found recent success in collegiate gymnastics, as well as in state tournaments and national qualifiers.
One of the top athletes to come out of Stallone Gymnastics is Natalie Wojcik, who is from Douglassville and is a senior at the University of Michigan. She was with the club from 2016-18.
Wojcik is the 2022 AAI award winner, which is given to the most outstanding senior collegiate female gymnast in the country as voted on by the NCAA women’s gymnastics head coaches. She also helped lead the Wolverines to the national championship in 2021 and was the national champion on the balance beam in 2019.
“She (Wojcik) was a joy to coach,” said Kristie Smith, a coach at Stallone. “She is a great person in the gym and outside of the gym. She volunteered with the Special Olympics program and she continues to do Special Olympics in Michigan as well. She’s a scholar-athlete and just a phenomenal person.”
Apart from the collegiate level, competitions in youth gymnastics are broken down into levels and ascend based on age as well as skill. Competitors ages 9 through18 are divided into Levels 6-10, with Level 6 focusing on developmental and optional skills and Level 10 made up of girls with nationally competitive skills.
The athletes at Stallone, which is owned and operated by Marty Amrich, compete throughout the country and many travel from across the state to train at the small facility in Fleetwood.
“We’ve been getting a lot of kids from all over Pennsylvania coming to our gym to train,” Smith said. “And I think it’s because of our atmosphere. We get kids to work hard, but we also have fun. We like to instill character in them as well as being a good teammate.
“We really just try to develop the individual. You like them to grow as gymnasts but more importantly grow as people.”
Smith said that her gymnasts practice year-round and that competitions progress to the state, regional (Pennsylvania is in Region 7 with Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia) and national stages.
“They train four hours a day, five days a week, Monday through Friday,” Smith said. “Some of them do get out of school early and then they finish their classes online. Or, for example, they move their schedule so that they do their core classes in the morning and they’ll come to gymnastics in the afternoon instead of study hall.”
The dedication has yielded results as Stallone Gymnastics has produced multiple state champions in 2022.
In the Level 10 state championships, Elyse Wenner, 15, from Breinigsville, Lehigh County, was the vault and balance beam champion in the Junior B division. She competed at the Level 10 national championship qualifiers in Mesa, Ariz., over the weekend.
Stallone’s Lauren Wright of Wallingford also competed in the Level 10 national championship qualifiers.
In the Level 9 state championships, Alyssa Yazinski, 14, of Hummelstown was the floor champion in the Junior B division. Deanna Gehr, 17, of Stevens won the uneven bars in Senior B.
Gehr, Yazinski and Ella McLeod all competed in the Level 9 Eastern national championship qualifiers May 6-8 at Rochester, N.Y.
Also from Berks, Wilson’s Capri Smith, 14, won Level 8 state championships in Senior B in uneven bars, balance beam and all-around.
While a strong emphasis on practice and commitment has been key to achieving success for the gymnasts from Stallone, Smith emphasized the importance of providing a fun and encouraging environment.
“We did a meet in Virginia, which was hosted by (1984 Olympic all-around champ) Mary Lou Retton, and it was Retton who at the end, she goes, ‘Stallone Gymnastics you are something special,’ ” Smith said. “And we were cheering for all the kids no matter what level they were. We did a crown like LSU gymnastics does and after the girls hit a routine, we put a crown on them, even if they didn’t win.
“And just to see these other kids from other gyms as their spirits lit up made us feel good and made us feel like that’s who we are and why we do it. So we might not win all the time, but it’s really about the kind of person you are.”
Source: Berkshire mont