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Does this Gym Floor Feel Springy to You?

Does this Gym Floor Feel Springy to You?
Posted on 01/23/2018
Leawood Elementary P.E. teacher Fred Gonzales helps students prepare for a gymnastics workout on the school’s spring floor. Leawood Elementary students put in a full day of working their minds, and now, with their classes behind them, they were ready to work their bodies, as gymnasts.

“We go through body positions first and then we combine the body positions and that’s how they learn. For example, they do pike hops, which are down, and they hop up in a pike position, straight legs, hips over the shoulders, and then they do it against the wall and then they snap into handspring. We let them do the ball,” explained Leadwood P.E. teacher Fred Gonzales.

Gonzales used to teach girls gymnastics at Columbine High School, and now he uses that knowledge and experience to bring the sport to the elementary level, complete with spring floor. It’s one of the few elementary gyms in Colorado to have one.

“It’s 4 x 4 sheets with springs all over the bottom. It’s bolted in,” explained Gonzales. “Columbine High School got a spring floor, a new one for their gymnastics team, and the athletic director called me and asked if I wanted their old one.”

Volunteers helped Gonzales install it, piece by piece.

“I think it’s really cool. Getting this equipment was really good for us. It gives you more support. You can bounce higher. It gives you a little more advantage,” said sixth-grader Joey Tonelli.

“I think I improved on it because of the floor. For me, it makes me feel like I can do it more because I have a kind of a head start on it,” added fifth-grader Jessica Spoelstra.

Tonelli also likes how the gymnastics skills he learns on the spring floor transfer to the other sports he plays.

“We do it during school and after school. I play three other sports, and gymnastics is just so transferable; balance, quickness, and agility. That's huge for other sports. Also, I feel like it’s cool to be around your buddies because half the boys in my class do it. That’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Some of Gonzales’ former high school gymnasts help with instruction, always making sure the students don’t try the spring floor until they’ve mastered the basics.

“Every stunt we do is a combination of body positions. They have to learn the body positions first, and then we start combining them, and they get their stunts down,” explained Gonzales.

After getting some basic experience in gymnastics with Gonzales, many students have moved further with the sport.

“A lot of these kids go on to club sports. We’ve had a lot of kids that went on to high school, or 5280. We just encourage them to,” said Gonzales.

Not all continue on, however. For many, it’s just about having the opportunity to have a little spring loaded fun.

“For me, it’s mostly about my friends and it gives me more confidence in myself. I feel like if I’m stressed about school, other sports, it relieves me to do it and I feel so accomplished after,” said Spoelstra.

“I’m excited. We’ve done it for so many years with regular mats, and the kids are excited. It’s an opportunity that you don’t see too often with little kids or even middle school. They just love it,” added Gonzales.

See the JPS-TV version of this story here.
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