Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Karl McPherson, left, and Mary Morrice are the new head coach and general manager, respectively, at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)

Manager charts a new course for Duncan Dynamics

More recreational programs to join competitive teams

New leadership at the Duncan Dynamics Gymnastics Club is aiming at expanding the number of programs offered by the longstanding organization.

Mary Morice was hired as general manager — the first GM in the club’s history — in January, and has brought on an experienced new head coach in Karl McPherson, but that’s the start of the changes she is establishing.

Morice has been coaching in B.C. for 35 years at various levels. She is the vice chair of the board for Gymnastics BC as well as Gymnastics for All (GFA) chair. Gymnastics for All includes all non-competitive GBC programs offered by clubs, including those for community recreation and schools. It’s important to Morice that her club offer programs for athletes of all abilities.

“I am very inclusive, and the board has come up with a strategic plan for this year in line with my ethics and values and having an inclusive place for everyone,” Morice says. “Kids can come in and participate — if not at a high level, they can come in and have support and enjoyment.”

The club will still have a strong competitive program, but its mandate is to have programs for every child to be competitive and successful at whatever level they choose.

Morice still does some coaching, but her role at this point is mostly mentoring. She certifies coaches for the National Coaching Certification Program, and in that role she has worked with coaches from Duncan in the past.

“I have lots of desire to have quality coaches, a quality mentorship program, and an environment where children can develop confidence and be successful,” Morice says.

Like any other sports organization, the Duncan Dynamics have had to deal with restrictions due to COVID-19. There have been some struggles, Morice says, but they have pushed forward, and some government grants have helped out.

The club has followed protocols set out by Gymnastics BC and viaSport, including a check-in station and hand sanitizer at the front door, and three-metre distancing emphasized by velcro dots on the floor. The equipment is cleaned constantly, and they fog the gym with child-safe sanitizing agents at the end of each day. Classes have been smaller because they can’t have as many kids in the gym at one time as they used to, and drop-in sessions and birthday parties have been cancelled entirely.

“Every class has to have quite a bit of structure to make sure the kids don’t get too close,” says Morice, noting that this creates new challenges with regard to learning new skills, as there is no hands-on coaching.

“Because there is no contact, we have to break it down more, and some skills have to wait,” Morice admits.

The Dynamics’ competitive team has been active and competing virtually through the winter and spring. To compete, they submit videos for judging and get ribbons in the mail that are handed out in a small ceremony in class so their teammates can cheer for them.

“It’s a very different experience, but they still get nervous,” Morice notes. “They know they’re still being filmed, so there is a level of anticipation. It’s challenging, but as long as the kids can participate and socialize and learn new things, we’re happy to be able to do that for them.”

Another aspect of GFA that Morice wants to introduce to the Duncan club is performance gymnastics — also known as “gymnaestrada” — which is an exhibition event open to all levels. Clubs can send teams to provincials each year, and there will be nationals in 2022 and worlds in Amsterdam in 2023. The events include workshops as well as mass group routines. Training is just two hours a week, as opposed to the 12 hours a week expected of a competitive, and can include parent and child participation, and even seniors.

Joining Morice at the club is new head coach Karl McPherson, who has 40 years of experience coaching in Ontario, Quebec and B.C., and most recently worked in Terrace. His biggest priority, he says, is developing “happy athletes,” who are active for life, and he views gymnastics as a “foundation sport.”

“The skills and tools they learn here can transfer to other things,” he explains.

The option is still there for athletes to want to contend at a provincial level.

“If they want to compete at a higher level, we can give them the resources to do that,” McPherson says.

In addition to Morice and McPherson, the club has several other coaches, many of whom grew up training in the Dynamics’ own gym.

The club is currently taking registration for summer camps and classes, and anyone who missed team tryouts can still contact the club for an assessment. For more information, visit www.ddgc.ca