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February 18, 2013

HUNTER: Cartwheels, handsprings and layouts

Kids participating in gymnastics

SELLERSBURG — I know another great high school basketball season is winding down, but I wanted to write about something a little different this week.

I have no idea how many people have seen my daughter, Madison, tumble the previous two years, while I was coaching boys’ basketball at Henryville High School.

If you had been to a Henryville boys’ game during that time and saw a little girl in a Henryville cheerleader outfit flipping around, you saw her. I do know that I had more than a few people make comments and compliment her (selfish, doting father here), and I do know that my wife had been asked many times about her abilities and where she attended gymnastics school.

My daughter has a little bit of natural in her. But it has been her work ethic and those who have guided her along that has gotten her to where she is at this time.

My daughter started taking gymnastics at Indiana United when she was 2 years old, so that helps in the process of her skill level. And when she was taught how to do a cartwheel in the first class, she probably did 500 cartwheels from Week 1 to Week 2 (I’m not kidding).

Much of her drive is genetic that hopefully she gets from both parents, plus her love for tumbling (probably from her Grandpa Hunter), but there had to be a group to guide that.

That group was Indiana United.

From her current coach Helen Noel Rich to Krista Williams, the owner and operator of Indiana United, everyone has been wonderful to our kids. They are patient, reliable and realistic when it comes to teaching gymnastics and dealing with parents.

They are not over the top, pressuring anyone to do something that they do not want to do when it comes to gymnastics, cheering or competitive cheer. That is something that my wife and I have appreciated beyond what anyone there can know.

We were asked one time about competitive cheer and we politely declined. It was a personal decision my wife and I felt that she was too young to put so much time and effort into one thing.

We want both of our kids to do many things including different sports, so them not pressuring us has been wonderful.

That is a personal choice on our part as parents. If your children are in competitive cheer, we don’t think it is wrong. In fact, we think it is wonderful and maybe something we do in the future when Madison is older.

My son, Brandon, isn’t quite the natural athlete that Madison is, so we started him in gymnastics also. Though in two years, he hasn’t gotten a cartwheel down yet completely. He has become more mobile and can do a back handspring off an inclined mat.

His coach, Ashley Munk, is patient and reliable. She’d have to be patient to teach 2-4-year-olds and my son specifically, he can be a ... uh ... handful. There are kids from 2 years old to teenagers that attend, and age really isn’t what the classes are dependent on. It is ability.

To my wife and I, it isn’t about how good our children are at anything that they do. It is about getting them to work to their highest ability while having fun.

To be fair, I haven’t attended as many classes as my wife, but there are no issues and no drama which seems to show up at any children’s activity where parents also are attending. I can’t speak for the parents of children who have attended in the past or who have children currently attending Indiana United, but I can speak for our family and we have been happy and satisfied.

If you are interested in sending your kids to Indiana United, you can contact Williams by calling 812-670-6059 or email at  Cost is $50 a month. They are open three days a week at the Borden Sports Academy in Sellersburg, and there are two to three kids per teacher dependent on ability level.

When you take into account the people who work there, the care they put into their job and the results I have seen with my own two children, it is worth the money.

Perry Hunter is a Henryville High School teacher and a former coach of the school’s boys’ basketball team. You can visit his blog at

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