Ultimately, the greatness of any gymnastics organization rests most clearly upon its coaches and staff. ACG’s gymnastics coaching staff (under the leadership of gym owner, Karen Glenn), is highly experienced, enthusiastic and dedicated to helping every gymnast, both competitive and recreational – achieve his or her best. We invite you to read on to learn a little bit more about each ACG coach and staff member.
USAG OPTIONAL and COMPULSORY
Coach Dar is as kind and sweet as they come. But don’t let that fool you. She means business – especially on beam – and has high expectations for her girls. She believes in each and every one of them just as her coaches believed in her.
Coach Dar entered the world of gymnastics at age of 12 – after eight years of dance. For fun she tried a gymnastics class at the local YMCA – and she was hooked. So Dar traded in her ballet slippers for chalk and grips and began training at the Somers Point Gymnastics Center. She got so good that she earned a full athletic scholarship to Northern Illinois University (NIU). While there, she became the Mid-American Conference All Around Champion, was a three-time MVP and Athlete of the Year. She even secured a spot in NIU’s Hall of Fame.
After graduating college with a BS in Finance, Coach Dar had a “day” job in the finance field and coached at night at the Vineland Gymnastics Center where she later became Head Coach. She retired from coaching when her first child was born. Ten years later, she was back. She coached the Optional team at Airborne Gymnastics Academy, where she worked until joining ACG in 2006.
“From day one, the staff at ACG was warm and supportive and the kids were awesome,” said Coach Dar. “It’s nice to work somewhere where everyone is a team player and helps each other out. I love the family atmosphere here. It’s a great place to work.”
When asked about her favorite Olympic gymnast, Coach Dar said she has two. “I love Nadia Comaneci because her first perfect 10.0 changed our sport forever. The scoreboards could only show a 1.0 because they never thought the perfect 10.0 was possible. Nastia Liukin is also my favorite because of her beautiful artistry.”
Looking back, Coach Dar said, “My mom was heartbroken when I chose gymnastics over dance, but I knew it was right for me,” she says. “Years later, my mom said it was the best decision I ever made.” We think so too.
The coaches at Sparkettes Gymnastics must have seen something special in Coach Tina, as they put her on team almost right away. She was eight years old and competed until she was 18. She attended Glassboro State College (Rowan University) and earned a BA degree in Health and Physical Education/Athletic Training. She also became a Certified Athletic Trainer, and in 2005, decided to go back to school to become a teacher.
Today, Coach Tina is a Health and Physical Education teacher in the Winslow Township School district. Prior experience includes teaching at Chesilhurst Elementary School, providing athletic training at South Jersey Rehabilitation Center and Woodbury High School, and coaching at Community Dance and Gymnastics Studio.
Coach Tina began working at ACG in 1999. She has coached nearly every level, but is now working with ACG’s sweet level 3s. “I love coaching gymnastics because it is a great sport that encompasses coordination, balance, flexibility, power, and agility all in one,” she said. “Nadia Comaneci is my favorite Olympian because she was the first woman to earn at 10.0.”
Have you seen ACG’s Level 3 gymnasts? They are as amazing as they are cute and we have Coach Kim and her coaching team to thank for that. When Coach Kim was their age, she was doing gymnastics at the YMCA. “I started with acrobatics and dance and got my first taste of gymnastics at summer camp,” she said. “On rainy days, we would go to the Asbury Park YMCA where there was a gymnastics room. I loved rainy days!” Kim officially began her gymnastics training when she was 10 years old at the YMCA’s Camp Arrowhead gymnastics. She trained for the required three hours each morning and came back for three more in the afternoon. Sometimes she even snuck in an evening workout. Before she knew it, Coach Kim was competing – and the rest, as they say, is history!
When the time came for college Coach Kim was ready. She competed on a full scholarship at the University of Kentucky for two years, before transferring to the University of Louisville, where she continued her gymnastics career. At both schools, she qualified for states, regionals and team nationals. At Louisville, Kim was a member of the team of 12 that went to nationals at the University of Utah. “It was hard work, but worth every moment,” said Coach Kim.
It seems that every moment since then has been spent coaching all levels all over South Jersey. Along the way, she raised a family – and enrolled her own daughter (Coach Shannon) in gymnastics.
Kim began working at ACG in 2001, as a preschool coach. Over the years, she has also coached compulsory and optional gymnastics. “I’ve worked at ACG for longer than anywhere else,” she said. “We are family and the gymnasts have become part of me. Like all ACG coaches, I respect both the sport and my co-workers. We all love what we do. I’ve seen the team grow larger, smaller and larger again. I love seeing the girls grow up, and as much as I like medals and awards, I can’t carry them with me like I can the wonderful memories I’ve made here and throughout my career.”
If you haven’t yet met Coach Regina, she’ll be the one out on the gym floor with a colorful flower in her hair. It always looks beautiful as is Coach Regina – inside and out. New to ACG, Regina is a veteran gymnastics professional. A coach for more than 10 years, Regina has experience at every level in both NJ and NY. She has even coached two of her own children, which she considers a privilege.
Coach Regina, a USAG Professional Member since 2006, has an arm-length of certifications. Some of these include: Fundamental of Gymnastics, Safety and Risk Management, Women’s JO Team Coaches, Stewards of Children, National JO Compulsory, Gymnastics University Instructor, Women’s Artistic Gymnastics JO Team Coach, and more. She also holds an Associate degree in Exercise Science and is attending Mercer County College where she is pursuing a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant.
“What I love most about ACG is the gym’s culture,” says Coach Regina. “Maintaining a positive atmosphere and working as a team, are promoted by the staff, as well as the gymnasts and their families. Everyone works hard and supports one another, making it a true gymnastics family.” While it was tough to choose just one favorite Olympian, Regina said Nadia Comaneci stands out in her mind. “I was 6 years old when I watched her become the first woman to earn a perfect 10 on uneven bars. It left a lasting impression and was the moment I fell in love with gymnastics.”
Shannon Gray-Clanton, Compulsory Team Coach
Most gymnasts hang up their grips before they begin coaching, but not Coach Shannon. When she’s not working with her fellow coaches with ACG’s level 5 gymnasts, Coach Shannon can be found in her own leotard working her Level 10 skills.
Coach Shannon started gymnastics with her twin brother when they were three years old. “My brother lasted only a few classes, but I loved it and my mom thought it might help me walk and run more smoothly,” said Coach Shannon. “I had what they call high-heel cords so walking and running wasn’t as easy for me as it was for other kids.”
She has certainly overcome that for sure. “My mom (Coach Kim) was a coach so I went to her practices and imitated all the girls,” she said. “I was especially good at doing back handsprings on the sofa.” As Coach Shannon grew, she found that she sometimes had trouble following verbal directions. At the age of eight, she was diagnosed with mild Cerebral Palsy. “Mom said that it was either lots of physical therapy sessions, or gymnastics — so I picked gymnastics.”
We think that was a great choice. Coach Shannon was a Regional Qualifier in levels 9 and 10. In 2009 (as a level 9), she qualified for Eastern Nationals and placed second all around.
Coach Shannon is a graduate of Kingsway High School. She also attended Gloucester County College for one year and plans to resume her studies soon. She’s a USA Gymnastics Professional member, U100 certified and Safety and Risk Management certified. Coach Shannon began coaching at ACG in 2011, carpooling with her mom. “My favorite part is the family element that you feel here,” she said. At the end of the day, we all come together and know we are a team.” Coach Shannon’s favorite Olympic gymnast is Kerri Strug. She says that’s because Strug was hurt and pushed through her injury for herself, coaches, teammates, and county. We know Coach Shannon would do the same.
Coach Jason will never forget his first gymnastics routine. He had just finished watching the Olympics and decided to flip his way down a set of stairs inside his house. While his mom was undoubtedly impressed, she quickly enrolled him in gymnastics class for some real instruction before he decided to attempt another 10.0 routine on the staircase!
While Jason loved doing gymnastics, he found that he liked spotting and coaching even better. “When I was about 12, my teammate and I decided to practice our spotting techniques on my four-year-old sister,” said Jason. “We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we loved throwing her through her giants.” At 14, Jason began working as a Junior Instructor. It was then that he finally got the opportunity to really learn, teach and spot.
Over the years, Jason got experience working with JOGA and USAG compulsory teams, as well as Optional gymnastics. Now that he’s at ACG, we plan to keep him. “While I’ve only been here for a short time, I love how organized the practices are and the fact that the team girls use all of their gym time to train,” he said. When asked about his favorite Olympian, Coach Jason selected Vitaly Scherbo. “He was the most dominant male gymnast at the Barcelona games and won six gold medals,” he said. “He was one of the few gymnasts who wasn’t good on just one or two events, but all of them.”
While Rutgers University had to let her go in 2007, ACG plans to keep Coach Erin for as long as she will have us. After all, this gym is her second home. Erin began her gymnastics career at ACG at the age of three. “My parents put me in gymnastics because I was quiet and shy,” she said. “They thought that it might help me develop socially.”
It did that and much more. She began competing at the age of seven and continued until she was 17 and in level 10. She then earned a Division I scholarship to Rutgers University where she competed for four years for the Scarlet Knights. Erin graduated with a BS degree in Sports Marketing. She is NJ certified in Health and Physical Education, Driver’s Education, First Aid, USA Gymnastics (Safety), and is a member of Professional USA Gymnastics and the NJ Education Association.
Prior to working at ACG, Erin was a Corporate Sales Representative for the Brooklyn Nets, Health and Physical Education teacher for Clearview Middle School and a Competitive Gymnastics Coach at Flyers’ Academy. Erin is still teaching and added coaching back into her life in 2011. “This is my fourth year of coaching at ACG,” said Erin. “I love the reputation Atlantic Coast has in the competitive gymnastics world. Its name has been around for 25 years and is also known as a great team to be a part of. We are a well-respected team and known to produce great gymnasts. I also love working for people who know what they are doing, are organized and run a superb competitive program.”
Erin’s favorite Olympian is Mary Lou Retton. “She was my idol growing up,” said Erin. “Her accomplishments as a gymnast were spectacular and everyone should look up to her, but it was more than that. She wasn’t the usual small, skinny gymnast. She was taller, muscular; very similar to my body type. And she always had this huge smile on her face. I always said that if she can, I can.”
She was right. In addition to coaching at ACG, Erin also competes as part of the gym’s level 10 team. As they say, she’s still got it – and continues to take home more than her share of hardware!
USAIGC TEAM COACHES
John Jeffries, USAIGC Bronze Team Coach and Tumbling Coach
A little known fact about Coach John is that he’s the one that brings the delicious-smelling pretzels to the gym every day! We’re not sure when that started, but John has been coaching at ACG since 2003. He got his start in gymnastics many years before that at the age of six. At the time, he trained in Livingston, NJ, where he remained until he moved to Williamstown in 2001. That’s when he joined ACG’s Men’s team and competed for two years before moving on to college. John competed for Temple University. While there, he also earned a BS in Exercise Science. Today, John is one of ACG’s USAIGC coaches.
RECREATIONAL COACHES AND BIRTHDAY PARTY STAFF
Coach Alyssa started gymnastics in a Mom & Tot class at the ripe old age of two! She continued taking gymnastics classes at ACG and loved it so much that she began volunteering her time to work with the Preschool classes in 2013. Just recently, ACG made it official and hired Alyssa as an Assistant Coach for our youngest athletes! Alyssa, who was inducted into the Junior National Honor’s Society when attending Pine Hill Middle School, will graduate Overbrook High School in 2018.
For Coach Nicole it’s Olympic Gymnast, Carly Patterson that she admires most. “She became my favorite when I was very young,” said Coach Nicole. “I’ve always admired her hard work and dedication to the sport.” After 15 years of gymnastics training, Coach Nicole also knows a thing or two about hard work. She began her gymnastics career when she was three and later moved to JOGA and USAIGC. As if that wasn’t enough, Coach Nicole also competed for Williamstown High School. Nicole has worked at ACG for the last (#) years and loves it. Her favorite part is seeing a child perform a skill that she has worked so hard to achieve.
Coach Dana’s gymnastics career actually started before she was born – when her sister was enrolled at ACG. When she was three, it was her turn! Dana began competing when she was five and progressed through the USAG levels until high school when she was forced to take a break due to an injury. Like most determined gymnasts, Dana refused to let that keep her down and went on to compete for Williamstown High School. Today, Dana shares her enthusiasm for the sport as a coach at ACG.
Coach Dana holds an Associate degree in Health and Exercise Science and will soon complete her studies in Exercise Science and Health Promotion at Rowan University. While she considers the Magnificent Seven to be her “Super Star” Olympians, her most favorite is Courtney Kupets. “I attended the Hills Gymnastics weekend and summer camps throughout my optional-level years and had the chance to watch Courtney train,” said Dana. “She would give us advice that helped us in and out the gym. When she competed she showed power, strength and grace.” It seems that a little of that rubbed off and onto Dana.
Coach Emily is a competitor and coach! She got her start in gymnastics at the age of two in a preschool class. Her coaches were impressed and quickly moved her along to the training team. From there, Emily competed as a USAG gymnast through level 6 before making the switch to USAIGC. A sophomore in high school, Emily competes as a Gold level USAICG gymnast. She also helps coach ACG’s preschool classes. “I love working here because I get to share what I’ve learned with the little ones,” she said. Coach Emily’s favorite Olympian is Nastia Luikin. “I love her dedication to the sport and the way she always strives to do better.”
For 15 years, Coach Dana competed as a USAG gymnast – reaching level 10. While her career was cut short due to injury, her love for the sport was not. Dana stayed involved as much as possible and worked as a party host and apparatus assistant prior to coaching. Coach Dana is a graduate of Paul VI High School and currently attends Camden County College where she is pursuing a degree in teaching. Her favorite Olympian is a bit of a look alike, as her friends tell her that she resembles McKayla Maroney! “She is an excellent gymnast and people tell me that I look like her when I competed,” she said. That can only be good.
Coach Alyssa is only a junior in high school, but she is already dreaming of competing in college some day! She’s part of AGC’s USAIGC team and currently competes at the Gold level. In between her training, Alyssa helps coach ACG’s Preschool classes. “I love working with the little ones,” she said. “They always have something interesting or funny to share!” Shawn Johnson is her pick for favorite Olympian. “She is so down to Earth and doesn’t let the fame get to her,” said Dana. “She also came back to gymnastics after ACL surgery, something I’m doing too.”
Coach Michelle joined ACG’s competitive team when she was six years old and continued for 10 years. During that time, Michelle became the Level 6 State Vault Champion and a Regional Qualifier in Levels 8 and 9. While Michelle “retired” from competition age the age of 16, she was remained in gymnastics by working at ACG. “I love being able to share my knowledge of the sport with other girls, hoping that they find the passion and love for it that I did.” Her favorite Olympian is Kerri Strug. “Her determination and strength to vault after injuring her ankle to clinch the USA Gold is so inspiring and emotional,” she said. “She is a hero!”
A role model to so many of the younger girls, Abby is a treasure. What started in mommy and me class at the age of four has blossomed into a wonderful gymnastics career – and it’s not finished yet! Abby is a beam specialist and part of ACG’s Level 9 Optional team. She is a Junior High School (where she also competes) and a member of the National Honor Society. “So many of my classmates complain about their jobs, but not me,” said Abby. “I feel so lucky to love coming to work every day. Gymnastics is my passion and being able to share that with young kids is a dream come true. When asked about her favorite Olympic gymnast there was no hesitation. “Ally Raisman!” she said. “I really idolize her for continuing public schooling throughout most of her training for the Olympics. I admire her talent, but also the work ethic that earned her spot on the Olympic team & eventually a place in the all-around finals.”
When it comes to the sport of gymnastics, it was love at first sight for Gabrielle. She began at the age of two and competed for 10 years as a USAG gymnast. She was also on the Washington Township High School team. “Gymnastics has most definitely shaped me into the person I am today,” she said. “I started working at ACG when I was a senior in high school and love it. It’s so rewarding to work with the kids and see the excitement on their faces.” Her favorite gymnast is Shawn Johnson. “She was a strong, powerful gymnast with great work ethic,” she said. Coach Gabrielle attends Temple University where she is studying Kinesiology.
Giovanna Salvatore, Training Team Coach and Birthday Party Staff
At the age of four, Giovanna followed in her sister’s footsteps and began gymnastics. Today, Giovanna continues to love the sport and finds working at ACG very rewarding. “I love seeing my little girls learn the same skills I did when I was their age,” she said. “It makes me happy to see them find joy in gymnastics just as I do.” Giovanna attends Washington Township High School. Her favorite Olympic gymnast is Shawn Johnson. “She had a great sense of dedication and love for the sport.”
FRONT DESK/OFFICE STAFF
While Maryann was a cheerleader growing up, she enrolled her daughters in gymnastics when they were very young…and never left. During the day, Maryann works full time for the NJ Judiciary. “My day job isn’t much different than my job at ACG,” she says. I oversee a team of individuals who are passionate about and dedicated to their profession. Maryann says that her favorite part of working at ACG is watching the children work on their skills. “I especially love working coaches and staff who are so caring.”
MaryAnn holds a BA from Glassboro State College (Rowan University). She is also a USA Gymnastics Professional Member and Safety, Meet Director and Instructor certified. Maryann has two favorite Olympians. The first is David Durante. “I met his mother at the 2001 US Gymnastics Championships in Philadelphia,” she said. “He gave my daughter his competition leotard and autographed it for her too!” Her other favorite is McKayla Maroney. She simply loves her spunk!
Office manager extraordinaire, Pauline became part of the ACG family when her daughter began training here as a member of ACG’s very first competitive team (1986-1987). Her son, Andrew, followed years later! Prior to working at ACG, Pauline had a 23-year career with 3M Company, Pauline. “My favorite part of being here is getting to meet so many wonderful kids and their families,” she said. My favorite Olympian is Nadia Comaneci. “She inspired us all by being the first female gymnast to score a perfect 10.0.”
If you have a question about happenings at ACG, or gymnastics in general, Traci is the one you want to ask. Not only has she been a gymnastics mom for 15 years (including four years of college competitions), but Traci has earned five USA gymnastics certifications: USA Gymnastics Professional Member, USA Gymnastics University, Fundamentals of Gymnastics Instruction, Safety and Risk Management, and Women’s Meet Director. Traci is also one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
Traci started her career at ACG in 2002, as a recreational class coach. A few years later she began working in the office and handling all of the competition team related business. “Throughout my time at ACG, I have been able to see so many little gymnasts develop their skills, and grow up to be talented athletes and amazing young adults,” said Traci. “That’s my favorite part of being here.” When it comes to her favorite Olympian, Traci’s pick is Mary Lou Retton. “She competed in the 1984 Olympic Games (the year I graduated high school!), and was the first American female gymnast to win the individual All Around title.”
For Sandi, it was her son, Nic, who introduced her to the world of gymnastics. As is the case for many gymnastics parents, he was here, so she was too. In 2002, Sandi began working in the front office. She was also an active member of ACG’s Booster Club.
Sandi says that what she likes most about working at ACG is seeing the excitement and joy in the eyes of the gymnasts when they reach a goal. “Being part of that and getting to know the gymnasts and their parents is what I enjoy the most.”
Carly Patterson is her favorite Olympic gymnast. “She visited ACG when we first moved into our current facility,” said Sandi. “The newspaper came and took lots of pictures of her with our gymnasts and coaches. It was a great day.”