Chimo coaches lead gymnasts to great season

Toni Vance and Ford White emphasize team-oriented environment

CHIMO COACHES TONI Vance and Ford White have guided their gymnasts to a successful season.

CHIMO COACHES TONI Vance and Ford White have guided their gymnasts to a successful season.




Chimo Gymnastics has had an incredible year under the leadership of head coaches Ford White and Toni Vance.  The competitive athletes have thrived in this team-oriented environment, a Chimo spokesperson said.

Athletes of all ages and levels trained together as a team, gaining confidence from overcoming fears and frustrations with the help of teammates’ encouragement and supporting each other through the challenging times.  Without exception, all of the gymnasts have noticeably improved in their skills, techniques and accomplishments and have overcome personal challenges to contribute to a very successful competitive season for Chimo Gymnastics team.

Ford and Toni’s philosophy toward coaching gymnastics is a child development centred approach, stemming from Ford’s 15 years as a teacher.  Their focus is not on developing national level athletes, though they have done just that very successfully.  They feel gymnastics should be used to develop the child as a whole, teaching them life skills such as; learning to overcome obstacles, changing thought processes when approaching challenges, and overcoming fears.

Building interpersonal skills is an integral part of the coaches’ approach. When dealing with teammates – supporting and encouraging each other in achieving their goals even when one might be struggling with his/her own challenge at the time is a life and leadership skill that will be invaluable to these young people.  Many of the girls speak of the team camaraderie as being one of the best things that they have enjoyed at the gym this year.

Gymnastics is not only for the serious, competitive athlete.  Ford and Toni have had great success in developing gymnastics at the recreational level here at Chimo.  New programs for boys have been developed for the fall session.  There is a program for high school students that want to compete in gymnastics for their school.  Pre-school programs provide practice in coordination and teach children how to land and roll safely – a skill that is invaluable in every sport.

Once children work their way through various skills in the recreational program they may choose to continue into a pre-competitive program where they are challenged even more and where they prepare to join in the competitive program if they choose.  Once in the competitive program the focus on technique and skill development as well as development of the child as a whole continues.  If they want to push themselves to a higher level there is support there for them but that is the child’s choice.

While coaching in Nanaimo, before moving to the Comox Valley, Ford and Toni had an excellent relationship with the child development centre.  Many of the children that attended the centre also benefitted from gymnastics.  Autism, in particular, has been show to respond very well to the type of movement and activity that gymnastics offers.  One of the future goals of these coaches is to further develop access to and support for gymnastics for children who have autism, visual impairment or ADHD, as they have seen the tremendous benefits that this activity can have for these children.

Coaches Leaving

Chimo sadly says goodbye to three of their coaches, Katie Symonds, Amber Mearns, and Caitlin Tatham.  All three of these outstanding young women have competed and coached at Chimo for many years and have mentored countless children through the recreational level, into the pre-comp level and on through the competitive program.

They all agree that through their time with Chimo Gymnastics they have gained body awareness, increased athleticism and strength, leadership skills, motivational skills and confidence.  All three will go on to university in the fall and some will continue coaching as part-time jobs while in school or during the summer.  Gymnastics has offered them leadership skills that have led to job opportunities, bursaries and scholarships.

Party Time

Chimo offers gymnastics birthday parties in our beautiful facility at the Comox Recreation Centre.  Registration is currently being taken for summer programs.  Stop by the Comox Recreation Centre and pick up a calendar or go to to see what gymnastics programs are available for your children this summer.

Certified instructors who have had RCMP record checks lead all programs. There will be even more options for all levels of gymnastics available in the fall calendar as well. If you have any questions, you can contact Chimo Gymnastics at  or phone 250-941-0067.

Chimo is a non-profit organization; if you wish to help out these hard working young athletes you can donate your bottles to Chimo Gymnastics at the Courtenay and Comox bottle depots.

– Chimo Gymnastics























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