Kylie Stone has fond memories of her time at the Stampede City Gymnastic Club – after all, she spent a large part of her life there starting at the age of five.
Whether it was using the trampoline to see how far they could jump to get to the bars, dodgeball games (back when you could play dodgeball as a kid) or mini-ninja warrior courses, the Calgary gymnast remembers it well.
Stone, now 31, competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in women’s gymnastics and trained at the Calgary club for 14 years.
Stampede City Gymnastic Club announced on social media Tuesday that it would be ceasing operations immediately, after training city gymnasts for 38 years.
“It’s sad. I’m sad to see the gym shut down, but more sad for the girls and the coaches,” Stone told LiveWire Calgary.
She remembers coaching a group of five-to-nine year-olds a couple of years back and seeing how much time and effort they put into the sport – but also the connections they made with the other athletes and the coaching staff.
“Now some of them have to find new homes and I think some of them are in a position where they might not even continue with gymnastics,” Stone said.
Stone, who still lives in Calgary and is now a city police officer, started out doing 15 hours a week when she was five and then at Olympic level doing 30 hours a week.
“You create those daily memories with everyone you’re with.”
“The coolest thing was I gained the biggest family you could ever have.”
LiveWire Calgary hasn’t been able to reach anyone from Stampede City Gymnastic Club via phone or email for an explanation on the closure. However, Tim Paul, Stampede City’s volunteer board chair, told CTV Calgary on Wednesday that the city’s economic conditions coupled with a drop in overall enrolment from recreational athletes led to the club’s sudden closure.
Stone said she’d also heard this was the case and explained that while the club had perhaps 60 competitive athletes that pay around $700 per month to train and compete, the bulk of revenue often comes from the hundreds of recreational athletes who participate in programs throughout the year.
She said that along with the economy, gymnastics has become increasingly competitive, especially on the recreation side, with many smaller clubs opening up and capitalizing on the recreational gymnastics athlete.
There were three weeks left in the current session, according to parents who spoke with LiveWire. Some parents had already committed to summer sessions.
People who do have questions about refunds or programming are being asked to email email@example.com.
The Alberta Gymnastics Federation issued a statement on the closure, saying they can provide support to those families looking for additional help in locating a new gym for both competitive and recreational athletes. Anyone looking for help can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Balwinder Marwaha, with the goal of keeping the Stampede City gym open. The target has been set at $100,000.