Gymnastics club to move into former Walmart
The Fairfield gymnastics and trampoline club has found a new home in the former Walmart building.
Jeff Ide, who runs the gymnastics club, announced he had worked out a deal with the owner of the former Walmart allowing the gymnastics club to use a portion of the building. Ide said he has already moved a few mats to the building and that all of the gymnastics and trampoline equipment will be moved there in two weeks.
The former Walmart is located near the intersection of West Burlington Avenue and South 20th Street. The building is owned by Jim Leahy of Blue Fish Clothing in Fairfield. Ide said the agreement he worked out with Leahy allows the gymnastics team to use the space that used to be Walmart’s garden center. He said the building, with its 23-foot ceiling, should provide his team with plenty of space to do all the routines it would do during competition.
Former assistant gymnastics coach Jeff Lannon died this year, and his wife, Mea Lama, wanted to do something to honor his memory. Lama worked with her brother, Jim Leahy, and Ide to find space in the building for the gymnastics club.
Ide estimated that the space dedicated to gymnastics and trampoline would be 35-feet-by-110-feet. The best thing about the move to the former Walmart building is that all the equipment will be in one room.
The gymnastics and trampoline team practices at the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center. The trampoline and a few other pieces of equipment are in one of the racquetball courts. The rest of the equipment is in a narrow third-floor room in the old school.
Ide said that, not only is his team squeezed for space under the current configuration, the division of the kids into two rooms prevents him from supervising all of them at once. When he is with one group of kids in one room, his wife, Jeanne, is working with the kids in the other room. Now both of them will be able to survey everyone at practice.
“We’ll have twice as much coaching capacity,” he said.
Most of the gymnastics equipment the club uses once belonged to Ide before he sold it to the city. He said the plan is to continue using that same equipment at the new location.
He hopes the city will be able to build a gymnastics building, and if it does, the equipment will go there. However, if the city decides not to build a gymnastics building, the plan is for Ide to purchase the equipment from the city.
Fairfield Park and Recreation director Derik Wulfekuhle said the gymnastics and trampoline club will no longer be a park and rec program once it moves to its new location. Ide said he was very appreciative of the work Wulfekuhle did for the gymnastics and trampoline club.
“He has been outstanding,” Ide said. “He has helped us build this program to be what it is today.”
Ide anticipates the move will cause only a minor disruption to the team’s practices as it prepares for state and national competitions. The first state trampoline and tumbling meet will be at the end of April in Ottumwa. The Amateur Athletic Union’s state trampoline meet is in Waterloo in May, and the state gymnastics meet is in Grimes May 3.
The two national events the club will compete in are the United States Trampoline and Tumbling Association, which is the week of June 26 in Louisville, Ky., and the a national AAU gymnastics meet the third week in July in Des Moines.
The team will hold a public meeting to discuss these issues further at 7 p.m. Thursday on the second floor of the Roosevelt Community Recreation Center.
– By Andy Hallman, Ledger news editor