Two sell-outs at World Class Gym

Published 10:11 pm Saturday, June 25, 2011

Beam: Bella Marshall, a Tumble Bunny at World Class Gymnastics Too in Driver, performs on a balance beam during Friday evening’s Gym Show at World Class’s gym. Hundreds of parents, family and friends came out as two shows were needed and funds were raised for the Joe Bystrom Care Fund, supporting one of the gym’s coaches who has cancer.

In only its second annual Gym Show at its new Suffolk gym, World Class Gymnastics Too is growing to the point of actually needing two shows.

Judging by still having a full house of parents and grandparents who came out to see their kids perform, even with the original plan for one show split into halves, back-to-back shows won’t likely be enough for very long.

World Class Gymnastics Too performed “A Salute to America” and raised donations for coach Joe Bystrom, a World Class coach who’s been a gymnastics coach in the Portsmouth, Churchland, North Suffolk area since the 1970s.

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All proceeds from the evening went to the Joe Bystrom Care Fund as Coach Joe was diagnosed with cancer, acute myeloid lymphoma, in April.

“Joe means so much to us so it was easy to want to help him. He’s part of our World Class family,” said Tami Harrison, owner of World Class Gymnastics in Newport News and Suffolk.

“We ask you to keep praying and keep supporting Joe. We know he’ll have a speedy recovery and be back here in the gym,” Harrison said while being the public address announcer introducing the second show of the night.

Donations to the Joe Bystrom Care Fund are being accepted at all Towne Bank locations.

Nearly every square inch of the World Class gym is dedicated to beams, bars, vaults, mats or pads. For the vast majority of 364 days a year, it’s not a spectator venue. Along one of the walls, seats were put out for a couple hundred fans and it was quite a standing-room-only attendance Friday.

Starting with Tumble Bunnies, ages 3-4, and continuing through state championship teams at Level 8 and Level 10, every gymnast performed multiple events.

“Whether a kid wants to be an Olympian or is having fun, tonight’s about saying thanks to parents and family,” Harrison said

World Class Gymnastics also said an additional thank you, at the finale of the program, to current and past members of the military.

Harrison spoke during her announcing duties about how her coaches teach more than a few important, albeit certainly impressive, physical skills.

“There’s self-esteem, confidence, discipline. We try to teach kids at an early age to work through things that are very difficult and if they do that, it shows them they can achieve their dreams,” she said.

The elite levels, Levels 7-10, are working in the gym five to six days a week and five to six hours a day Harrison said. World Class boasts many state champions and champions or top finishers at regional and national meets.

Level 10 gymnasts Taylor Harrison and Kiera Brown made the U.S. Junior Olympic National Team and will be competing at World Gymstraeda in Switzerland.