Sports

Return to play at Bolton Gymnastics

August 20, 2020   ·   0 Comments

SPECIAL TO THE CITIZEN

With a daughter involved in gymnastics at a young age, Dave Sandford’s passion and commitment for the sports world has always been rooted within him.

He has owned Bolton Gymnastics since 2011, though the gym has been around since the mid 80’s. His daughter Shannon began gymnastics here with the previous owners of the gym at the age of eight years old. The Club began at the Humberview High School until they moved through two different locations until their current facility on McEwan Drive. Sandford also owns the location in Etobicoke, which he has been the owner of for 25 years this December. 

“My involvement began when my daughter started doing gymnastics. Within a year, she went from participating in a one-hour recreational program, to a 16-hour competitive team. At the time I was in another career, but I always wanted to work in sport,” explains Sandford. “I also coached hockey here in town, from house league all the way up to the AA Caledon Hawks. I coached from 1990 until 2004. My coaching credentials are in hockey, women’s gymnastics and trampoline.”

At that time, the gymnastics club was more parent and volunteer run. So, I got involved, and became the guy cleaning the gym and vacuuming, which was part of the parent’s requirement,” he said. “We used to have a bingo hall here in town and I would be there volunteering on a Friday night, on the second bingo shift, along with some of the other parents here with the club, we would fundraise and host competitions, to help with the fundraising.”

While his daughter Shannon continued doing gymnastics, Sandford paid close attention to the club and a program they had called tumbling, which is a separate discipline of gymnastics. The sport of trampoline made it to the Olympics in 2000, but tumbling did not. Tumbling does have a World Championships, where Sandford had an athlete take home the Bonze Medal in St. Petersburg, Russia at the 2009 Trampoline & Tumbling World Championships. It was Canada’s first World Championship individual medal and currently remains the only Canadian World Championship medal to this day in the discipline of Tumbling.

“Coaching these girls is so rewarding, you’re in the gym up to 16 hours a week with them, you’re travelling with them, there becomes a bond, that athlete coach bond, you live and breathe their setbacks and successes as they go through all this,” he explained.

When the club resumed operations in June for its competitive programs, after being closed since March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, his first concern was that of the athletes, their families, and his staff. 

“We have developed a Return to Play Handbook for the three different stages required by the Province of Ontario to reopen the club”, he said. 

Later that month the Province announced that Summer Day Camps would be permitted in Stage 2 of the Reopening Framework set out by the province. 

“The club began offering Summer Day Camp programs in mid-July, and numbers have been gradually increasing over the past few weeks,” he stated.

The Club knows that everyone is concerned about the safe return to activities for their children. With registration for the Fall Session beginning on August 19 they have implemented many changes in their programs to ensure this can be accomplished. The club has reduced its class sizes by up to 40 percent, it has staggered the start times of classes, reduced some recreational class times, implemented enhanced cleaning protocols since reopening in June, and are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of all participants.

Bolton Gymnastics normally has about 400 plus children who attend classes and programs weekly at the gym, with 25 staff members ranging from high school students, to university students, to full time employees. However, the number of spots available for the upcoming Fall Session has been significantly reduced to comply with physical distancing and capacity limitations to allow for the safe return to play. Sandford did say ‘I will do everything possible to make the training environment is as safe as I can make it for all participants, their families and our staff.”

Bolton Gymnastics is located at 17 McEwan Drive, in Bolton. To learn more, information can be found at www.boltongymnastics.ca. 



         

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