The Danvers based gymnastics organization, Yellow Jackets is entering a new phase in 2012 with new ownership, new direction and an updated facility. The Yellow Jackets has been the premier choice for local gymnasts for over thirty years, since owners Don and Joan Lothrop opened the gymnastics club in 1975. They have spent their lives pouring everything they had into the organization.
But with retirement on the horizon, the Lothrops have made arrangements to relocate to South Carolina. That decision led them to bring in retired Olympic gymnast and former men's coach Peter Kormann as a co-owner to take the helm.
Kormann attended, competed, and later coached the mens team at Ohio State, and also coached at the U.S. Naval Academy. He may be best known for his historic turn during the Summer Games of 1976 when he became the first American to medal in competition against the Soviets, earning a bronze for his floor routine. Under Kormann's leadership, the Yellow Jackets will continue to thrive and achieve the next level in the world of gymnastics.
Changes are already in effect, beginning with Kormanns appearance on the scene back in May of 2011. He named a new Program Manager Carrie Clarke, whose daughter, Amanda, is on the competitive team, while Clarke teaches classes daily to children ages eighteen months through teens. Kormann then began making much-needed updates to the gymnasium, located on Holten Street, across from .
Perhaps one of the most dramatic changes is the wall that was removed to accommodate a new spring floor for vaulting, and soon he will be introducing new equipment to the facility. "And we have a new balance beam coming, a new vaulting mat and we're re-matting the whole room," he said. "We want to make sure the people of Danvers continue to have a quality program with quality instruction, so a lot of energy has been put into this."
Danvers Patch caught up with Kormann to find out how he came to the Danvers Yellowjackets, what exciting changes are happening at the Holten Street facility, and most importantly, what new developments gymnasts can expect to see.
Q. How do you know the Lothrop family?
A. Their daughter Corey worked for me at the gym I owned in Manhatten, the Chealsea Pierce Gym, and I became friends with the family. When Don decided to retire last year, he asked me if I would consider being a co-owner so the gym could continue. After ten years in New York, I was sick of the Yankees/Giants thing; but really, this is like coming home for me, I'm originally from Braintree.
Q. Who are the other coaches?
A. My two sons are gymnastic coaches, Brian and Tim, so I thought it would be fun to bring them with me. Both began coaching in 2000, and they float between this gym and the other location in Middleton, (on Route 114). The head coach of the team is Bailey Denisco. Our competitive team is a very talented group of fifteen girls who compete all over the region; in fact our level three team just placed first in Westfield, our level four girls placed fourth and one gymnast, Emerson Nicholas, placed third all-around. This group here are younger girls, just starting out, but their success is very high, so it's exciting to see.
Q. This question is directed towards program Manager, Carrie Clarke: What new programs are being offered at Yellowjackets?
A. During February Vacation we are teaming up with to offer a morning on Tuesday, Feb. 21. It will be a three hour program where we'll take them through the basics of all the equipment, and they'll have a snack and an art project. We haven't done anything like this before, but since we added the spring floor and the other updates, we thought it would be a great way to show everyone the changes.
We also have a play gym every Thursday from 9:30-10:30 a.m. for parents to bring their little ones here to get them used to the equipment. It's great, because there is no registration, no instruction, and the kids are free to play on the air track and the trampoline. We also started a co-Ed tumbling class, which is great because the boys keep asking for it, so now we have something for them.