History & Life Members

Life Members

The following people have been awarded a life membership at our club for the many years of dedication given up to help run and support the club.

James Horn – 1995
Colin McMullien – 1996
Jane Bylsma – 2005
Barbara Horrell – 2008
Michele Poole – 2008

History

1972 – Colin McMullien, a successful gymnast, began coaching a handful of boys at the YMCA.

1976 – The club attracted increased membership through a newspaper advertising campaign, and moved to Southland Girls’ High School’s gymnasium. The first committee was established, with Ken Swain as President and James Horn as Treasurer.
The parents, coaches, and gymnasts set up the gym each evening and pulled down the equipment after each session.

1988 – The club became an incorporated society and remained at SGHS until a small fire caused by a heater damaged part of the locker rooms. The club moved back to the YMCA on Tay Street for a time, and the search began for a permanent home.

1991 – The Southland Gymnasium Association (SGA), was formed to purchase a building owned by the Catholic Dioceses. Founding members were Cliff Dawson, Eric van Rensberg, Keith Adams, Ken Swain, Neville Low, Tony Irvine, James Horn, and Roy Barlow. James Horn acted as secretary / treasurer and was the driving force in putting away a considerable sum of money that enabled the club to undertake the project.
The facility was soon found to be too small to accommodation growing numbers, and an ambitious plan was made to extend it.

1992 – Thirty members of the committee and parents showed their commitment to the sport by personally guaranteeing the mortgage of $120,000 from Trust Bank Southland. Keith Adams, Cliff Dawson, Tony Irvine, James Horn, and Neville Low each guaranteed $5000, Stephen Jenkins guaranteed $4000 and over 20 others, including coach Colin McMullien and Brian Golding, backed the project to the tune of $2000.

2000 – Previously, Southland gymnasts who qualified to compete at the National Championships had to win a place in the combined Otago-Southland regional team. IGC members were the prime movers in persuading New Zealand Gymnastics to allow Southland to break away from Otago, and Gymnastics Southland was set up at the end of 2000.

2001 – IGC successfully negotiated the employment of a fulltime coach, Vladimir Saraev, a successful women’s gymnastics coach in the former USSR. Vladimir took up his position as Director of Coaching in March, and remained for three years.

2004 – Nikki Bylsma became the first IGC women’s gymnast to represent New Zealand, competing in Hawaii in January 2004. Vladimir resigned on health grounds in February 2004. Aside from a brief absence in 2001, Colin McMullien still continued as men’s coach.

2005 – Part way through the year, Jane Bylsma took up the position of Director of Coaching for the club. She was a PE teacher who began her involvement with the club as a parent coach, and over the previous 13 years became a qualified coach and judge.

2007 – Mortgage from 1992 was finally paid off in full, and the gym bought a brand new sprung floor. Investigations were started to assess the feasibility of developing an even bigger facility that will accommodate the increasing demand for recreational gymnastics, including preschool and school programmes.

2011 – Collin McMullien retired from coaching, and Head Coaches were put into place to oversee the club’s four main gymnastic disciplines. Julia van Eeden became Head of Aerobics, Tracey Maclennan was Head of Gymnastics for All, Ranan Feit took up as Head of Men’s Artistic Gymnastics, and Jane Bylsma stayed on as Head of Womens Artistic Gymnastics as well as Coaching Director.

2012 – India Henry made the New Zealand National Team and represented New Zealand in Hawaii competing at STEP 8. The MAG programme had two boys compete again at Nationals for the first time in many years.

2013 – Karisa Webster made the New Zealand National Team and represented New Zealand in Australia competing at STEP 8. The club also underwent a huge restructuring in the way of how its policies and procedures ran. This was a big step towards becoming more professional.