Thursday, March 30, 2000

Bringing gymnastics back to Tecumseh

Bringing gymnastics back to Tecumseh
The Ann Arbor News
By Pamela Appea

Tecumseh, Michigan—An area gymnastics club has revived pressure on the Tecumseh school board to reinstate gymnastics as a letter sport at Tecumseh’s middle and high schools.

Leo Jubenville, president and proprietor of J & B Gymnastics, an area gymnastics club, said that they’re championing the cause in order to meet the needs of area residents.

Jubenville’s club boost about 400 members, with young gymnasts from Adrian to Milan.

The club has a few dozen middle school and high school age gymnasts who want to do gymnastics as a competitive sport, Jubenville said.

Gymnastics was phased out as a competitive sport in 1991, due in part of the budget crunch the Tecumseh district faced at the time, school board members aid.

But school trustees also said there was a lack of interest in gymnastics at the time, one of the reasons why the district may be reluctant to consider starting a gymnastics team now.

Jane Baker, a coach at J & B Gymnastics, and a former gymnastics coach at Tecumseh High School, said they’ve unsuccessfully approached the school board several times under a past school superintendent’s administration.

According to Baker, a group of parents and other gymnastics team proponents approached the school board in 1991, 1993 and 1999 to protest the phasing out of gymnastics.

Baker, who is Jubenville’s daughter, said proponents of gymnastics as a team sport have two things going for them this time: a new superintendent and a new large high school opening next year. Baker said with the space at Tecumseh’s new high school, school board members might be might be more inclined to see gymnastics as a feasible option for the district.

Another point of resistance on the school board’s end is keeping the balance of girls’ and boys’ teams, Baker said.

At a Tecumseh school board meeting earlier this month, trustees erroneously reported that there were more girls’ sports than boys, a balance the district does not want to upset, due to Title IX considerations, Baker said.

But Jim Gilmore, athletic director at Tecumseh High School, said the district miscounted the number of teams, and that reinstating a girls’ gymnastics team will not upset the balance.

Gilmore said Tecumseh school administrators and school board members “have made no determination” whether or not the school district wants to implement a Tecumseh schools-sponsored gymnastics program.

Gilmore went on to say that the Tecumseh schools are looking at financial considerations, including the cost of equipment, uniforms, hiring a coach, and the possible increase in liability insurance.

Baker said that fund-raising is something most gymnasts’ parents are used to, and she said many would be willing to help cushion some of the extra costs of a gymnastics team.

Baker and Jubenville also said if the high school is willing to explore a co-op sharing agreement with students from nearby smaller communities that might provide an additional means for the district to cut costs.

Photo Credit: Dan Williamson
Photo Caption: Jane Baker, left, Leo Jubenville, center and Carol Cruz are the co-owners and coaches at J & B Gymnastics in Tecumseh. They and others in the area are trying to get gymnastics re-instated as a varsity sport at Tecumseh High School.

Originally published Thursday, March 30, 2000