Coach brings World Class to Suffolk

Published 2:39 pm Tuesday, February 9, 2010

World Class Gymnastics Too and owner/coach Tami Harrison are still waiting for some equipment to be delivered to their month-old gym just outside of Driver.

That’s not stopping World Class Gymnastics Too from already buzzing with activity and bringing in more than 200 new students since its opening on Jan. 4.

Harrison was a 10-time All-American gymnast at Cal-State Fullerton and reached the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1984. For the last 10 years, Harrison has been the owner and primary coach of World Class Gymnastics in Newport News.

Just in recent months, Harrison’s team of about 110 competitive gymnasts at her Newport News gym have competed as far and wide as Florida, Texas and Cancun, Mexico. World Class Gymnastics won the meet in Cancun. The level eight, nine and 10 teams at World Class Gymnastics are the reigning Virginia state champions.

“We take our kids everywhere because they’re that good,” Harrison said. “We want to give kids here that same opportunity.”

“I live here and I always heard, ‘when are you bringing a gym here?’” Harrison said.

The new Suffolk gym, in a brand-new building on Bowen Parkway, sports a huge, spacious gym. The facility, even while still missing a couple pieces, such as foam to go in an in-ground landing pit, is recognized as a National Training Center by USA Gymnastics.

While competitive gymnastics at elite levels is clearly in Hamilton’s blood, it’s by no means all she seeks to provide with World Class Gymnastics.

“We want to give kids confidence, self-esteem, physical fitness and just be an outlet to exercise,” Harrison said.

World Class Gymnastics Too is offering classes for toddlers, preschoolers, recreational girls, cheer tumble, boys beginners as well as birthday parties and open gyms each Friday night.

“For kids who just want to have fun, we definitely have classes for that. One important thing though is, even while just having fun, we can still teach proper techniques. That way, if a kid wants to be competitive when they get older, they will go into the competitive part of the sport with proper techniques,” Harrison said.

For now, the recreational classes and bringing new students into the sport, are the primary goals at the new Suffolk gym.

“When this facility grows, we’ll find the right coaches for the level 10 and elite levels,” Harrison said. “Every day we’ll grow and we’ll find coaches to meet the needs.”

Harrison has one super-elite coach already for her Suffolk gym. Alexis Brion was a five-time NCAA national champion, a six-time All-American while at the University of Alabama and a national and international competitor for the U.S.A. National Team.

“She has skills named after her,” Harrison said.

“We’ve really been blessed since we opened. It’s only been about three or four weeks and we already have over 200 students. We’re hoping to grow and be a great facility for Suffolk children,” Harrison said.