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YMCA of Coastal Georgia ready to host gymnastics national championships
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Plans are falling into place as the YMCA of Coastal Georgia gears up to host the 2013 YMCA Gymnastics National Championship and Festival this moth. Over 1,900 athletes from 24 different states will gather at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center to show off their skills and compete for the gold. Representing the city of Savannah is the Islands gymnastics team from the Islands Family YMCA, a branch of the YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

This team has competed in more than 20 YMCA National Championships over the years and always looks forward to this annual meet. The young gymnasts train and prepare for this meet throughout the year.

Many gymnasts on the Islands team are returning competitors on the national scene, but for several, this will be there first time.

This isn’t the first time the YMCA of Coastal Georgia has hosted this event, serving as the host in ‘95, ‘99 and ’03. The Association is looking forward to continuing that same success this year.

“Although we’ve hosted this event in the past, I believe this one is a little more exciting,” said Carol Tanrath, Islands YMCA gymnastics director and technical advisor to YMCA of the USA National Gymnastics. “Not only are we bringing the boys’ competition here for the first time, but the meet is much larger this year."

“Everybody loves Savannah,” Tanrath said. “Some of the coaches have been here in the past and I think everybody’s excited about bringing a new generation of gymnasts to the city.”

Lane Vacala (age 11, competing level 8) said, “This year will be different from the other Nationals I’ve been to since it’s in Savannah. I can’t wait. Having everyone I know, including family and friends, here makes me feel like everyone is behind me.”

Added Dustyn Scoggin, (age 12, competing level 5): “Having everyone in our neighborhood watching will be cool; it’s exciting to have a fan club.”

The community is encouraged to come out to the event and experience the excitement firsthand.

“I think that people should come out to the meet so they can actually see what the sport is about and how hard it really is,” said Jessica Meiners, age 11, competing level 4.

Her brother Jake Meiners (age 12, competing level 6) added: “A lot of people think it’s not a big deal, but it is. There are a lot of good competitors coming this year.”

The competition will include the top male and female gymnasts in the nation competing in levels two to Championship (9 and 10) divisions.

Said Tanrath: “Our team is young and rising, but they are extremely positive role models in our community. It’s nice knowing that when our city is supporting these young gymnasts at this event that not only are we developing strong athletes from our community, but kids with strong characters. Our city has a lot to cheer for this year.”

There are a number of ways to get involved with this event. You can purchase tickets to attend the competition, or become a volunteer. A variety of volunteer opportunities are available for ages 15 years and up. Opening ceremonies kick off the event June 26 at Forsyth Park followed by the three-day competition taking place June 27-29 at the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with the volunteers within our community and see how much they support the youth in positive, healthy activities,” Tanrath said. “I know this event is going to be a success with the support of YMCA of Coastal Georgia, Visit Savannah, the Savannah Sports Council, volunteers and the volunteers from our Islands YMCA gymnastics parents’ group.

For more information, visit or call (912) 897-1192.