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Elite Origins: Coach Patrick Ballard

A lot of people ask how I got involved with coaching gymnastics, so here is my gymnastics story.

First, no, I have never done gymnastics or taken any gymnastics classes. During high school I worked at another gym doing birthday parties, field trips, and lock-ins. I loved working there, and was very good at what I did. After graduating high school I moved into the fire station as a resident firefighter and continued to work special events. About a year after moving into the fire station I was hired full time at Fire District 1 Of JoCoKs. Unfortunately, due to my schedule and wanting to put all my efforts into my full time job, I made the decision to leave the gym.

Working birthday parties when I first got to Elite. This Star Wars party was a blast!

After a year or two, I realized that I missed working birthday parties. I went back and asked for my old job back. They weren't hiring any party staff at the time, so I went home and googled "birthday parties in Johnson County." Elite was the top result, so I made the trek to Elite and asked for a job doing birthday parties.

Immediately, I was hired and trained to do birthday parties. After a few months I started working the front desk in the evenings on days that I wasn't at the fire station. About six months into my time at Elite I was asked to take over the party program temporarily and I did. I ended up running the party program for about a year.

Dinner with the team after going to my first gymnastics meet ever. Coach Sierra's face pretty sums up how she feels about me even to this day.

During the time I was running the party program, I was out to lunch with Kristi, the general manager, and she asked me if I had any interest in coaching. I explained to Kristi that I had absolutely no gymnastics experience or skill. I will never forget what her response to me was, "We can teach you gymnastics, you are great at working with kids and that can't be taught."

And so it began. I worked on and off with the different groups learning about the sport and the different skills. Gerald taught me how to spot and most of the time I did alright. However there was one time that our current GM Sierra kicked me in the head... She was still a gymnast at the time and I was still learning to spot when she asked me to spot her on a cast handstand up on the platform. She told me I was standing in the wrong spot but I was confident I was doing it right. Well, I was wrong and nearly got kicked off the platform. It was almost as bad as the time I thought I could do balance beam and ended up in the hospital getting shoulder surgery.... check out the photos below to see why I'm no longer allowed on any balance beams!

Taryn Vanderpool & I standing where JFK was asassinated during our trip to JO Nationals in 2010

That was fourteen years ago now, and here I am as the Assistant General Manager and team coach. I have done just about everything at Elite from teaching recreational classes, coaching the competitive team, supervising and leading birthday parties, lock ins and field trips - I even taught a swim class once. I have traveled all over the US with the team and their families. The Elite family has become my extended family, and for that I will be forever grateful.

I have loved my time at Elite and I truly believe that it has helped shape me into the person I am today. I hope there are many, many more years for me here at Elite!

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