Lori and Bart Roskoski are co-owners and coaches at Flips Gymnastics in White Bear Lake. The couple have owned and operated Flips since 2002. Currently, there are 1,100 young athletes enrolled in programs at Flips. From preschoolers through members of the elite level team, Flips has something going on for everyone interested in gymnastics.
“We just want to get kids into gymnastics,” says Lori Roskoski. “We want to help them become the best gymnasts they want to be.”
Along with the recreational gymnastics popular with most of their students, they have coached and trained elite level gymnasts for years. This year, they have a team of six girls who have set high goals for themselves. They’ve all been part of the Flips Gymnastics program since they were in preschool.
Ella Zirbes, 13, from Stillwater and Lily Pederson, 12, of White Bear Lake have both been invited to a national developmental training camp. They have graduated from the second level of training—called Hopes—and are moving up to junior elite status. Jordyn Lyden, 13, from Woodbury, Grace Weisser, 10, from Maplewood and Tatum Drusch, 9, from White Bear Lake have all been invited to a national invitational developmental camp. Rayna Engelmayer, 12, of White Bear Lake is recovering from an injury but is expected to be back with the team soon.
“These girls have definitely had more success more quickly than any group we’ve ever coached,” Roskoski says. “In February, they will be going to two of the four national qualifying events.” A strong score at one of those events could qualify any, or all, of them for the American Classic competition this summer in Utah. Ultimately, all the elite level competitions are heading toward that one big prize: a spot on the Olympic team.
Roskoski worries that recent negative national stories about gymnastics and gymnastics coaches may have given the sport a bad name. “I want parents to know that most of the gyms in the country have nothing to do with that,” she says.
The kind of hyper-competitive atmosphere that elite level gymnastics is often associated with is not what the Roskoskis want Flips to be known for. They are proud of their elite training programs, but Roskoski says she encourages kids to choose the kind of gymnastics that they want to pursue. There isn’t any pressure.
You don’t have to have Olympic dreams to be serious about gymnastics. Roskoski says there are 150 girls at Flips on other teams. They train 20 hours a week--less than the elite level competitors, but still a serious time commitment. Many of those girls will have a good chance to win college scholarships as members of university teams.
Obviously, 20 hours a week for a teenager means a big commitment from the family, too. Parents are pressed into service for driving to and from the gym and competitions and making sure that rest and nutrition are getting the attention a young athlete may not always remember they need.
“We have such great supportive parents,” Roskoski says. “They really stay involved and it makes a difference,” reminding everyone that teamwork isn’t just something that happens in the gym