2012 Allstar Trip Wrap-Up
by John Geddert
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Panama City: A Hidden Jewel
Each year we schedule and plan an international experience for our Region 5 All Star Team. Each year we stumble on a plethora of educational information about the city, country, people and or culture of our chosen destination.
I really do not think that anyone expected Panama to be as it was. To our delight this country, more specifically Panama City, is the hidden jewel of Latin America. Most expected a small impoverished city, with sub standard living conditions. We experienced something on the opposite end of that spectrum. We saw a beautiful, well constructed, BIG CITY with a skyline that can challenge the best. We were greeted, housed, fed, entertained and treated like royalty by some of the most genuine and caring people that we have every had the pleasure of meeting. The 2012 All Star Team Trip ranks at the top of our list of experiences.
Our trip included a 3 day training camp with several countries (Columbia, Puerto Rico, Venezuela and host Panama), where our coaches shared valuable developmental gymnastics information with the attending coaches and athletes. The Region 5 athletes served as assistant coaches and worked with the campers to improve their gymnastics skills and knowledge. After camp, our coaches presented lectures on the 4 events, Dance and Conditioning, which were very well received.
One of our goals associated with these international opportunities is to share the wealth of knowledge that we have been blessed with here in Region 5. Judging by the outpouring of positive feedback we accomplished this goal. Judging by the heartfelt handshakes, endearing embraces and a few tear filled eyes at goodbye we accomplished far more than anyone could imagine. It is truly inspirational to assist others with the learning process that can be overwhelming in this technically demanding sport but more than that to sincerely connect with people puts the experience on an entirely new level
Part of the festivities included a Gymnastics Gala where the campers put on a show for the local community and gymnastics sponsors. The host Club (No Limits) put on a great display including stage lighting and music. Our girls performed combinations or watered down routines to the delight of those in attendance. Head coach Andres Llanos and his business partners are to be commended for providing such a unique experience for our athletes and coaches. Through the entire week this organization went above and beyond any and all expectations. They were gracious and giving hosts, and our entire delegation sincerely appreciated the efforts. Our athletes and coaches were treated like rock stars!
The grand finale was a celebration banquet, which once again was pure class. We got a taste of some local cuisine, music and some dancing. The girls and coaches exchanged gifts and furthered the bonding experience throughout the night. By the end of our 3rd full day together it was very apparent that our motto “making friends around the world … one country at a time” had become reality.
The next day we visited the Panama Canal which is one of the greatest engineering accomplishments of all time. Several of our delegation experienced a VIP tour which is generally reserved for heads of state, celebrities, kings and dignitaries. We got an up close exposure to the locks and their operational procedures. Certainly one of the marvels of the modern day world, the Panama Canal “once in a lifetime” experience, will be remembered by all.
Our last day and a half was spent in true reward fashion at an all inclusive beach resort on the southern side of Panama. Some well deserved pool and beach time, sea shell hunting, jet skiing, fine dining and Karaoke (some pretty good singing talent in this group of athletes) filled the itinerary. The Pacific beach resort was breath taking and provided the perfect ending to a perfect week.
We had an exceptional group of athletes and coaches for this trip. The athletes (Grace Williams, Kamerin Moore, Bailey Gardner, Anna Hill and Rachel Haines from Twistars USA, Payton Richards and Marissa Oakley-Phenom, Jessica Peszek-Deveaus, Nicole Gendussa-IGI, Tenielle Funches-United, Mary Jane Horth-Gym World, Sydney McGlone-Universal, Nicole Artz-Champions USA, Alyssa Shermataro- Olympia, Amanda Wellick-Legacy Elite, and Melissa Zurawski- BIG, ) all represented their clubs, states and region with class. The coaches (Todd Gardiner-IGI, Jessica Holtz-Phenom, Dave Anthony-Universal, Glen Willmeng-United, Tom Strange-DeVeaus, Tami Jacobs- Champion USA, Lori Koch- Olympia, Dana Poncin and Kara Kapernakas-BIG, Joan and Greg Ganim-Gym World and Yuejiu Li- Legacy Elite) and Judge (Kittia Carpenter- Buckeye) worked their tails off so as to provide our hosts with as much gymnastics information as possible in the limited time available. Thanks to the entire delegation for making this trip an incredible experience for all.
Every trip has it’s unsung heroes. For this trip that would be our volunteer chaperones, Michelle Hill and Kristin Moore. These two moms stepped up to offer their assistance and filled the demanding roll very well. Some might think this is a glorious position and we would like to think that they both enjoyed themselves, but this role is work 24/7. Not only do they get to play the role of nannies, nurses, chefs, shoppers, sitters, body guards and more, they get to do so at their own expense. Thanks Kristin and Michelle you both were wonderful!
A common denominator in most of our regional events over the past 5-6 years is the name Kristin Moore. I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge her efforts in the organizational details, communication updates, providing information, securing airline tickets and more. Once again she was amazing and the major reason for the smooth sailing associated with our trip to Panama. THANKS KRISTIN!
As always the final thanks goes to the Region 5 Committee, under the sterling leadership of Bobbi Montanari and the Region 5 Gymnastics Membership for their undying support of this generous reward system that we have. Region 5 is simply incredible and YOU are the reason! Thanks!
Region 5 JOPCC