For the past few years, GymZone Gymnastics and Athletics have welcomed the experience of Olympic and World Championship coach Dave Arnold, including a summer visit in Sudbury for a week-long camp.
This year, the crew decided to broaden the scope of the teachings, incorporating elements of sports psychology, athletic therapy and dance instruction, with participants appearing to be extremely receptive to the additional content.
For coach Michelle Seanor and others involved, the entire package ultimately benefits the athlete.
"With Dave, it's all about coach and athlete development," she explained. "Tapping into his years and years of knowledge and techniques, especially with our programs where we don't have the same knowledge base, like men's gymnastics, is key."
As for the move to the more wide-ranging session, Seanor noted that it really is the logical next step.
"It's all part of training to be an athlete, as opposed to just being a gymnast."
A familiar face in the GymZone facility since the age of two or so, 18-year-old Graham Boland has not yet grown tired of continual learning.
"As I get older, some of the things make more sense," he said with a smile.
Yet there is also new knowledge to be garnered.
"On the pommel horse, Dave has given me some great advice on body alignment and balancing myself out," said Boland.
Good thing, too, as the soon-to-be Laurentian University Forensics Science student jumped to the Level 3 grouping last year, with an eye on moving it up another notch in 2014-2015.
"I finally got to see some of the higher level athletes, and some of the incredible skills that they can do," he said. "Just to be able to get to Level 3, that's a pretty big accomplishment for me, being able to do the skills."
All of which has provided plenty of motivation for the young gymnast, still looking at the expansion of his skill-set.
"On vault, it would be great to do a front/front vault (two full flips before landing)," stated Boland.
"On floor, it would be wonderful to add a double front, or a double back flip." Despite the impending demands of post-secondary academics, Boland sees no reason to slow things down, gymnastically speaking.
"I've never really been able to imagine my life without gymnastics, to be completely honest."
That kind of dedication is not unique to those attending the GymZone summer camp, it seems.
North Bay native Emma Shea made the decision, at just 12 years of age, that travelling some 90 minutes back and forth on a weekly basis was a necessity, if she wanted to reach some of her long-term goals.
"I need to train with higher level girls, to have someone to look up to," Shea said. An interclub (pre-competitive) gymnast with her sights set on making the jump to provincial competition, Shea devoted one full season just to build a foundation for the move.
"I wasn't ready last year," she said. "I really worked on my skills and my form, and I really think I got it all up to shape. After this past year, I feel more ready."
Proof in the pudding came late in the season, with Shea taking first place overall, in her category, at the Sunshine Classic hosted in North Bay in early June.
"I really had to learn to trust myself, because I was doing so many new skills," Shea continued.
Focusing on fine-tuning her routines prior to her first provincial qualifier at the end of November, Shea is pleased with the variety that was merged into the current summer camp she is attending.
"We're doing a lot of different things," she explained. "Yesterday, we learned martial arts. You learn how to be quicker. You have to be fast on the bars, on the floor."
The 2014-2015 competitive season for the GymZone Sudbury Laurels athletes will ramp up come September, with Tour Qualifier the first test on tap for the upper level ladies.
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