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Gymnastics growing among youth
Ketchikan Gymnastics Club gymnast Julia Biagi, right, practices on Friday in the organization's new facility in Ward Cove. Staff photo by Taylor Balkom

Daily News Sports Editor

KETCHIKAN — It has been two weeks since the Ketchikan Gymnastics Club celebrated the grand opening of a brand new location.

The opening comes while the sport's popularity continues to grow among Ketchikan's youth — boys and girls alike.

Lacey Bailey, the coach of the KGC, said she was pleased with the opening of the new location and that summer registration numbers are more than what they have been in recent years.

During the summer, the KGC typically sees membership numbers somewhere in the 60s, but this summer that figure has increased to nearly 100 members.

Bailey said she attributes most of the spike in membership to the new upper mezzanine viewing area recently installed with the help of a $5,000 grant from the Ketchikan Community Foundation.

“It's so nice that it's so open and parents are excited to be here because there's a place to sit and watch stuff,” Bailey said on Friday. “It's been good.”

The new location features higher ceilings, which enables Bailey's students to practice and do hand stands on the high bar — something a low roof prevented them from doing before moving locations.

With increased elbow room, kids have been able to have their own respective space, allowing less opportunity for any potential injuries to occur.

“(The students) would hit their toes up on the ceiling or on the fire extinguisher,” Bailey said. “Now I can actually train kids in full-out hand stands.”

Even with the expanded membership numbers and increased interest around town, Bailey said she would still like to see more boys become members.

Bailey said she is looking into implementing a ninja class themed on NBC's American Ninja Warrior television show.

It would be open to both boys and girls and, with more of a coaching staff, the class could see the light of day at some point in the near future.

“Since we've seen that ninja courses have been kind of a hit, and our equipment is already in here, having one (ninja course) wouldn't be hard to do,” Bailey said. “We just need the coaching staff to do it, though.”

Bailey described the class as a mix of strength, conditioning and a little bit of parkour. She said she could see girls also taking an interest in a potential strength and conditioning class of that caliber.

At this point, Bailey said that a few lesson plans and a heightened coaching staff are the difference between such a class being implemented in town, but the desire is present.

Looking to the future of the KGC and gymnastics in Ketchikan in general, Bailey said she sees more expansion.

More expansion also means more equipment, which means more classes, but Bailey does not see that being a problem as time goes on.

“I see it building,” Bailey said. “Hopefully we can go further out because I'd love to get foam pits, longer tumble tracks and more equipment to have more classes.

Right now we have the enrollment but a coaching staff is needed.”

Currently the KGC has enough room for three classes in its new location.