Four generations of gymnastic coaches serve Tiffin YMCA

Four generations of coaches currently serve the Tiffin Community YMCA gymnastics program showcasing each one’s passion and love for gymnastics passed from generation to generation.

Becky Bohn, gymnastics coordinator at the YMCA, first came to the Y in 2005 to serve as the head coach for the gymnastics program.

Bohn’s first involvement was at a young age when her friends would teach her moves at recess.

“My mom said if I wanted to do it, I would learn to do it right,” Bohn said.

Prior to joining the Y’s coaching team, Bohn was involved within the program from 1992-2002 at the Fremont YMCA.

Bohn herself was coached by Brian Riffle from 1992-1997. He coached for over 20 years and wanted to get back into the program coming to the Tiffin Y.

“Our philosophy in coaching is based of what we have learned from (Brian),” Bohn said. “So how we all coach matches really well.”

Bohn continued her involvement with the sport through her junior year of college at Bowling Green State University.

With injuries she decided to not compete anymore and went into coaching.

“My coaches stand out to me,” Bohn said. “I enjoy being an influence in a child’s life.”

Riffle has coached not only Bohn, but Jennelle Herron and Wendy Goddard. Those three have then coached Lauren Reaves, Brandy Gabrielson, Megan Fry and Abby Lykens; who in turn coached Becca Burns. All of the coaches are now coaching at the Tiffin YMCA.

Riffle himself started with the sport at an early age, then progressing to instructor, team coach, head coach, program director and club owner. His career has spans over approximately 30 years.

“I believe what I like most is how gymnastics teaches both its participants and instructors a learning process that is often effective, not only in sport, but in life,” Riffle said. “The sport teaches many life skills such as how to break down a large complicated task into smaller parts, learn those parts well — and with time, dedication and hard work — be able to complete the complicated task successfully.”

Riffle competed while in grade school until junior high and then got involved with football and wrestling. At 16, he started coaching gymnastics at the local recreation center and then the YMCA in Fremont.

What brought him back to coaching was wanting to share his accumulated knowledge of the sport, not only with the gymnasts but to the younger coaches.

The Tiffin YMCA was home to many of Riffle’s first students.

“It was bringing me back to my roots in the sport, back to where it all started,” Riffle said. “I also believe in the mission of the YMCA where sport and winning isn’t the mission, but teaching good values and skills to young people that will help them be the best person they can be in life.”

Riffle said he likes to tell his gymnasts that gymnastics isn’t the most important thing they are doing in practice. It is that they are learning how to learn.

“We’re learning what it takes to be good at something,” Riffle said. “That particular something might be gymnastics today, but in the future it could be a different sport and alter any variety of careers and endeavors.”

Bohn said there have been many others who they have coached who turned to coaching themselves, but due to life and moving away from college have had to leave.

Herron started her gymnastics career at a young age until age 17.

“I love the sport,” Herron said. “I think its amazing what the human body is capable of.”

Herron has coached off and on since competing. She has even attended Bela Karolyi’s gymnastics camp in Texas as a gymnast and returned later as a coach.

“It was an amazing experience,” Herron said.

As a coach, Herron said she not only loves the sport, but helping a gymnast learn a skill that she didn’t think she was able to do.

“My coaches were such a positive influence on me and I hope to do the same for the girls I’m coaching now,” Herron said.

Herron’s daughter Joliea is currently on the Y’s gymnastics team. Herron said while watching her daughter at practice with Riffle, she was taken back to her times in the gym.

“We are very lucky to have such a great group of coaches around us,” Herron said.

Gabrielson has competed for Bohn for nine years and has coached for her for five years.

“The YMCA has been in my life for about 15 years,” Gabrielson said. “We has a team are very proud of all the generations that have come and gone.”

Gabrielson is currently attending Owens Community College for hospitality management. She started gymnastics just as a fun sport to do.

“I don’t believe my parents or I would have thought gymnastics would have lasted this long and had been such a large part of my life,” Gabrielson said.

Her favorite thing about the sport, is the friendships and values the sport teaches.

“There is a great amount of self-trust and confidence needed to perform those routines and skills,” Gabrielson said. “It also teaches you to not only be honest with but with yourself.”

Gabrielson started in the third grade and competed until 2016. She started coaching by watching her own coaches make a difference in her life and the impact it created.

“Its been a wonderful experience watching the difference I have made in children’s lives,” Gabrielson said. “I really enjoy seeing the happiness on a child’s face when they get a skill that they have been working towards for weeks, months or even years.”

A senior at Columbian High School, Fry got involved with gymnastics because she loved to tumble and do tricks.

“My mom then started taking me to the gymnastics center and I just loved it and started competing,” Fry said. “I love having to take risks and being brave to try the tricks.”

Fry started competing in second grade. She left for a while and began again in eighth grade until other sports caught her interest.

She soon began to coach this past August.

“I love working with younger kids and helping them push themselves to do things that they didn’t think they could and sharing the passion and love for the sport I have been a part of,” Fry said.

The only thing Burns, 16, ever wanted to do growing up was gymnastics.

“I love the sport,” Burns said. “My mom grew up doing it and my mom has always inspired me and has supported me through everything.”

Burns began at the age of four and has been involved with the sport ever since. She stopped just a year ago to start coaching starting in Perrysburg with the Greater Toledo Gymcats and came back to Tiffin after four years.

“As a gymnast what I liked most were my supportive coaches and the girls that I did gymnastics with,” Fry said. “I had the best times in our gym.”

As a coach, Fry said she loves teaching and sharing her experiences.

“It is a hard job because you have to know everything about how your body works and how to teach it the right way,” Fry said. “As a coach you’re always putting yourself in a situation to keep yourself safe and the gymnasts safe.”

Fry said she wanted to start as a coach because she was coming to the end of her gymnastics path due to injuries and seeing other girls she competed with started coaching.

“I love the new things that I get to learn about coaching,” Fry said. “I also love the coaches and the girls that I am with. They are always making me smile and laugh. When I’m having a bad day I know I can count on all of them to make my day a lot better.”

The Tiffin Y’s team gymnasts range in ages 9-14 this season, with about 250 students in the program.