There have been three great inventions since the beginning of time: Fire, The Wheel and Worthing Gymnastics Club…
With this being our first bog since our Lord & Saviour, Head Coach & Founder, Heather Sampford “let there be Gymnastics!” on the yet unformed and desolate Worthing, we thought we would start at the very beginning…
Lets backwards roll a few years to September, 2011 – Heather had just finished loading her Mitsubishi Pick Up Truck aka ‘The Rust Bucket’ with the clubs ENTIRE arsenal of Gymnastics equipment. Each piece strategically plonked in the back (and crammed in the caddy), like a game of Tetris to ensure nothing was left behind. Though if something couldn’t fit, it was somehow strapped on with one of the many bungie cords Heather had handy, as if she were a mad scientist adding an arm or leg onto the body an unknowing victim…
Now loaded and with a cushion from the living room propped in the drivers seat to assist in ‘Big Hev’ seeing over the steering wheel, The Rust Bucket was ready for its first expedition.
She slammed the drivers door behind her to ensure it would stay closed, buckled her seat belt, that would ironically buckle under any pressure eliminating its main and only purpose and then pursued to force the key into the ignition. Once, twice and a third time the engine would not turn over – I will not repeat what was said or in fact screamed towards The Rust Bucket after the third occurrence but I will tell you that it is something that would never be said or whispered in our place of worship aka the Gymnasium. A fourth turn of the ignition accompanied by fierce kick of the accelerator and the beast was brought to life! Even with gritted teeth, she let out a roar of relief! Heather had not gone through the endless paper work, lesson planning and all round preparation for creating a Gymnastics club to be late on her very first day. With the engine chugging, she ground the Gaffa tapped gear stick into first, followed by an almighty turn of the wheel as if it were one of her majesty the queens navel fleet due to the H.M.S Rust Bucket lacking in both grip and power steering. Then off she went, Captain Heather could see that her vessel was on course for Worthing.
Bouncing along, hitting every bump in the road as if they were waves The Rust Bucket would lose countless pieces of equipment such as bean bags, hula hoops and on some occasions you might be lucky/unlucky enough to see a rouge crash mat flying down the A259. This of course was hard to miss so in turn the hazards were put on, Rust Bucket brought to an abrupt stop and a one woman search party sent out to recover and detain the escapist but this time with extra bungie cords.
On arrival to our first ever venue, St Andrews School for Boys Gymnasium, the earlier game of Tetris was dismantled and setting up was under way. An array of floor matts, mostly consisting of paving slab like Judo matts older than the school them selves, were slung out almost causing Heather a slipped disc or two – fortunately she has always been a grafter so this was just another day in the office. Next on the agenda was pulling out and securing the antique and rickety climbing frames, which I assume were installed when the educational system first introduced the cane – both of which I cannot see Ofsted approving of in this day and age! From here, the second hand Trampette was assembled, accompanied by two benches acting as a runway along with the traumatised crash matt. At this point you would think the crash matt would of had enough for one day, after being tied to a truck against its will and flung off the back at daring speeds down a duel carriage way, but oh no, the day had just begun, for Matthew’s destiny was to be struck with feet, hands, elbows and jumped upon for a whole evening. Yes, the crash matt has now been named, as I too feel the same sympathy you do from reading about its harrowing experience. Matthew is more than just a crash- I digress… Stood with hands on hips, inspecting the room, making sure nothing was out place, missed, left behind or fallen off of The Rust Bucket – Heather was ready for WGC’s first ever session.
Not quite sure of which entrance to come through, all six of WGC’s first ever Gymnasts and parents were coming towards Heather from all different directions like bad guys from a Bruce Lee film. Thankfully they were not armed with weapons but instead questions – there was no admin team in 2011 to take care of this, Heather was the whole club!
Questions out of the way, shoes and socks off and the session began. Gymnasts here, Gymnasts there, Gymnasts everywhere – it certainly seemed like there were more than six gymnasts in attendance with bodies flying all over the place, health and safety would of had a field day! That being said, there were no broken bones and each child left thrilled with how the session went. Likewise were the parents who would say “See you next week!” as they left, helping Heathers drive to get to where the club is today.
Just as she did at home, Heather packed The Rust Bucket and off she went knowing that all the hard work and effort she put into creating this community club was well worth it. She arrived home, dismantled and packed away the equipment and was straight back to work taking on all of the admin duties. For a few years this daily cycle would be repeated but during these years the club would grow everyday, with the introduction of new gymnasts, new equipment, new coaches, new venues and new challenges.
Forward roll back to now. From 6 Gymnasts, the club now nearly has 350 students. From an old worn down gymnasium and having to store the equipment at Heathers house, the club now is able to Let a brand new sports hall at Bohunt and have storage for the equipment, showing its is a sustainable not for profit business. That in itself is an incredible achievement for this community club and its not only thanks to Heather, its thanks to the coaches, the volunteers, every person that has had an input in the club, the parents and of course the Gymnasts which is why the club is here.
Yes, we may have achieved so much already but have my word that we are yet to be on the 7th day of rest after Heather “Let there be gymnastics!”, as that day will come when Worthing Gymnastics club finds its own facility, it’s home.