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The Issaquah Press
Issaquah, Washington
July 29, 2009     The Issaquah Press
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. _Plami . lUHIP HI |lllii llLUllilmllilllilll SECTION B THE ISSAQUAH PRESS C,0MMUNITY WEDNESDAY, JULY 29, 2009 BY ADAM ESCHBACH Gymnastics Instructor len Cook works with 6-year-old Miya Nakata on the balance beam at Gymnastics East, an Issaquah institution for 30 years. Tumblin' tots roll through good times and bad #00nnastics East is a home away from home for children, families | BY CHANTELLE LUSEBRINK umbling and flipping through good times is something Gym- nastics East families are used to, but when the vaulting gets tough, they stick the landing by sticking together. "We're a family," said Roberta Dries, gym co-owner, whose chil- dren began practicing there in the late 1980s, Gymnastics East has been an Is- saquah staple for 30 years, but re- cently reopened on Mall Street. Their spring-loaded floors are more than a venue for learning to tumble or entering the realm of competitive gymnastics. Gymnas- tics East is home to generations of gynmasts who teach, participate and volunteer. "It is a home away from home," Dries said, adding her daughter Tamara also instructs at the gym. "It says something about the coaches when children are coming back, and now coaching them- selves," said instructor Liesl Ker- sher. What began as a little gym tucked away on Front Street North in 1979, opened by Jan Wanzer, has grown into a three-location conglomeration in Issaquah, Belle- vue and Preston, owned by some of the students who studied under her. "She brought gymnastics to the community," Dries said. "If she thought Issaquah wanted a show, she would host it. In fact, she'd tear up the floor of Gymnastics East and put it on Front Street for Salmon Days, or she would pack it up to the Seattle Center at Christ- mastime so the girls could per- form." Wanzer also teamed up with the city Parks and Recreation Depart- ment to offer classes to children interested in gymnastics. "She always tried to involve the community in the gym. It really felt like the community had own- ership of the gym," said Missy Miller, another co-owner who has ONTHEWEB vvwvv.gymnastieseast.com Worked with the gym for 18 years and also practiced there as a teen. Despite opening new locations, and for a time moving out of Is- saquah, the gym has remained in touch with its community spirit, and families from Is- saquah have remained their sta- pie business. "We have always been a part of this community," said Ryan Fleisher, an office.manager and former gymnast. As much as this town has grown and changed around us, we are still like our own small town here. Everyone knows each other." Now, in a new soon-to-be 4,000- square-foot location, the,gym's co- owners said they couldn t be hap- pier to be in Issaquah. "Every little girl wants to do a cartwheel," said instructor Shirley Arnold. "That is what brings them here, and what keeps them here is they can grow with us." Arnold said she has firsthand knowledge as her daughter- turned-co-owner Kin] Thomson started with the gym and has stayed her entire life. Thomson's daughter, Melissa Thomson, will also begin teaching classes at the gym soon. When their gymnasts go on to college or move from the gym to other programs or activities, they often phone friends and coaches at Gymnastics East when they are homesick, Thomson said, adding she gets text messages and phone calls for advice. "I understand. It was hard for me to leave," she said. "So, I did- n't. I came back to teach, because I wanted to give back to a family See GYMNASTICS, Page B3 BY MICHAEL JOHNSON / NEWERA PHOTOGI{APHY Paul Yount and his son Karl, regular train depot visitors, check out the G-scale model trains at a layout set up on a flatbed railroad car, during the annual Issaquah Train Show put on by the Northwest Pacific Z-Scalers. Climb aboard Histop00 Museums' t00rain show BY ANGELO GROSSO All aboard for Issaquah's an- nual train show Aug. 1! The Issaquah History Museums is hosting its fourth annual Train Show from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Issaquah has a long history with trains, dating back more than 120 years, with the creation of the Gilman Train Station in 1889. In fact, the city was origi- nally named Gilman after the train station. "The purpose is to bring his- tory of trains with Issaquah to the people of Issaquah," volun- teer coordinator Karen Klein said. "We want to get people in- terested in the history of Is- saquah and that involves trains." There will be model trains on display, an air horn to blow, and a speeder will be going up and down the tracks. The Northwest Pacific Z- Scalers will have their z-scale (very small) model layouts on hand. They will also have build- your-own trains at the Lego train center display. "The Lego trains are great for the whole family," said Z-Scaler Tom Gilchrist. "The whole show is for families. There's something for everyone". There will also be a garden railroad display, titled G-Scale. These are the types of trains that people usually have in their gar- dens and flowerbeds. The Puget Sound Garden Railroad Club will showcase its live steam engine train that utilizes steam to get the train running. "This event only happens once a year in Issaquah," Gilchrist said. "Our goal is to support the Issaquah Historical Society, espe- cially the train depot." The Train Show is free with museum admission, which is $2 for adults and $1 for children. Family passes are available. Do- nations would be great and are welcome, Klein said. "It's a very positive experi- ence," she said. "People get very excited and really enjoy them- selves. A lot of parents and adults become children again when it comes to the some of the displays, especially the air horn!" Reach intern Angelo Grosso at iss. press@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress, corn It BY ADAM ESCHBACH At left, gymnastics instmcor Roberta Diles works with Sophia Beams on her handstand. Diies just started working at the Gymnastics East facility in Issaquah at the beginning of July and has 16 children in her class. At dght, balancing on the balance beam, Miya Nakata lifts her arms to distribute her weight.