Chimo Gymnastics heads into summer season

Chimo Gymnastics has had an incredible year under the leadership of head coaches Ford White and Toni Vance.

UNDER THE GUIDANCE of coaches Toni Vance and Ford White

UNDER THE GUIDANCE of coaches Toni Vance and Ford White

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 successful competitive season for the Chimo 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. 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 they have enjoyed at the gym this year.

Gymnastics is not only for the serious, competitive athlete. Ford and Toni have succeeded in developing gymnastics at the recreational level. 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 co-ordination 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 continues, as does development of the child as a whole. They can push themselves to a higher level there if they desire.

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 well to the type of movement and activity that gymnastics offers. One of the goals of these coaches is to develop access to and support for gymnastics for children who have autism, visual impairment or ADHD, as they have seen the tremendous benefits this activity can have for these children.

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 attend university in the fall and some will continue coaching part-time. Gymnastics has offered them leadership skills that have led to job opportunities, bursaries and scholarships.

Chimo offers gymnastics birthday parties in its facility at the Comox Recreation Centre. Registration is being taken for summer programs. Stop by the centre and pick up a calendar or go to

Certified instructors who have had RCMP record checks lead all programs. There will be more options for all levels of gymnastics available in the fall calendar.

For more information contact Chimo Gymnastics at or 250-941-0067.

Chimo is a non-profit organization. Those wishing to help these hard working young athletes can donate bottles to Chimo Gymnastics at the Courtenay and Comox bottle depots.

– Chimo Gymnastics

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