Texas is the second biggest state in the union. It’s 10% larger than France and twice the size of Germany or Japan!
That means there’s a lot of flippin’ and twistin’ goin’ on in this Great State!
Luckily, Texans have the Gymnastics Association of Texas, to help them pull it all together! Known in the biz, as GAT, they’ve been doing just that, in the form of their trade show and convention for 51 years! Now that’s… Impressive!
It had been about 30 years since GMR had attended a GAT convention, so we thought it was high time we hauled ourselves and our bevy of convention goodies out west to attend.
The timing this year was tough, as Texas and Louisiana had just been hit by Hurricane Harvey, the largest storm to hit that area in all recorded time. As is part of our nature and culture, the gymnastics community stepped up to help affected gymnastics gyms and clubs by donating to the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund LINK GAT is managing. The fund has raised as much as $20,000 with more trickling in every day. https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScGaekfpJSG9btrNdzSQ_HxmZ2j4j1tkLjE-5BtjWY90_-fpA/viewform
On the way to Texas, we drove through Ruston, Louisiana and got to visit one of the gymnastics gyms we designed and equipped with GMR equipment: Paradigm Gym. We had the pleasure of meeting Herb Vandenberg and putting a face to a name!
Herb is great guy who does double duty as owner and gymnastics coach. It was a big honor for Mike to be offered the opportunity to don his coach’s cap again and work with some of Herb’s boys in a little impromptu, mini-clinic on strap bar work and tumbling.
Mike, “I’d not coached since 1992, so I had to dig in my memory and dust off some of old my tricks. It was a lot of fun! Herb’s boys are great kids and really determined athletes!”
One of our equipment salespeople, Rick, put them to the test with a handstand contest. Rick lost, of course, there’s nothing like kid energy! But, he was happy to clock his longest time in holding a handstand and the young man was happy to win a Ten-o “pop socket” cellphone holder — one of the bits of schwag we brought for the convention.
GAT is held in Austin which was spared a great deal of the brunt of the storm, we only saw the beginnings of a gasoline shortage, as we were leaving. Instead, we drove back to our own share of heavy weather from Hurricane Irma which took down power at our Lithonia, Georgia headquarters.
It did seem that the mood was a bit down at the convention as so many had friends and family who were struggling from the effects of the storm. The association had said that 700 people were due to attend, but it didn’t look like that many folks were able to make it, and a few vendors didn’t get there, either.
One of the people who did attend was Texas’ own Olympic gymnast, Jonathan Horton! We had the pleasure of meeting him: It was a real honor. We’ve enjoyed his gymnastics throughout his career and really appreciate all he has done to help the Hurricane Harvey relief effort.
A funny highlight was that a few of the coaches couldn’t understand Mike’s southern accent. Southerners are known for speaking slowly, but Mike had to slow down and enunciate his greeting for a few folks who were like, “Huh? What?” Regional, cultural differences are one of the things that make attending gymnastics shows and conferences so much fun!
As is The Food! We always do a little research on the area where shows are held to see what kind of local flavor we can get into. Obviously, we had to plug into some Tex Mex and were not disappointed by Austin’s Tamale House East. Austin’s tagline phrase is “Keep Austin Weird” and that they have! Tamale House East is a neat little hipster spot that serves handmade tamales and breakfast tacos!
You know where else the food was good? The convention! That’s not the case at our yearly convention, but we gotta give it up for GAT: there were the most welcoming convention we’ve ever attended as vendors.
They had a large spread in a special area for vendors that offered muffins, coffee, lemonade, fudge… We came away feeling as though the convention really cares about their vendors. It was like the old major gymnastics convention used to be in the early years. These things aren’t cheap to attend (or put on, we realize that) and it makes a big difference to feel like the convention is there to support you, rather than nickel and dime you. GAT staff were friendly. They loaned us equipment to help load up and load out. We really felt like they put their hearts in to making this a good show for vendors and attendees alike.
GAT attendees are also a friendly bunch. We really enjoyed getting to connect with our Texas and Southwest area clients and we made some new friends, too!
We also learned that gymnastics gym and club owners are faced with the challenge of an outdated pit system. We heard “Our pit sucks” from more than a few folks. “Our pit is hard to climb out of and hard to clean.” “Our foam gets smushed down too easily.” We brought along our Mini-Sag Bed Pit model and got into some great conversations about pit physics and the advantages of stringing your pit with a trampoline bed that’s closer to the pit’s edge and configuring the bed such that it sags.
We also did a different version of our Mini-Sag Bed Pit Contest and we’re proud to congratulate the winners and send them their gift certificate for the products or equipment of their choice from Ten-o!
Sag Bed Mini Pit Contest Winners
$200 Gift Certificate Winner:
Grant Woodridge, Coach at Gym Classic in Aquilla, TX. 1250 was his guess, one off from the 1249 actual, total number of pit cubes.
$25 Gift Certificate Winners By Cube Color:
Riley Besch, Gymnast at Capital Gym in Cedar Park; She guessed 250 out of the 260 total number.
Lime Green, Red and Orange:
Michelle Bennett, Coach at Mikcalia’s Fantastic Gymnastics in Patterson, Missouri hit 125 right on the nose for all three.
Robin Hawkins, Coach at J&R Gymnastics in Seguin, TX guessed 126 out of the 127 actual number of cubes.
Caitlin Shirly, Manager at New Heights Gym Academy in Odessa, TX was one of at 125 from the126 actual number of cubes.
Julie Broussard of Louisiana Gymnastics Club guessed 120 out of the 122 number of pit cubes.
Blue & Kelly Green:
Autumn Lowry, gymnast from Victoria TX guessed 120 out of the actual 124 of blue and kelly green cubes.