The Story of Jewarts Gymnastifcs
Jewart’s Gymnastics started in my basement in 1969. Actually, it didn’t have a name at that time. But it did have a purpose; to teach dancing lessons to the neighbor kids. I had a pre-school program and several classes for elementary school-age kids. Tap, ballet and acrobatics were the roots. My goal was to have a school that gave kids the best things that I had learned from my 12 years of dancing lessons, my four years as a Slippery Rock gymnast, and my three years of teaching physical education for the Los Angeles City School District. To me “the best” meant that it would be really fun, only the best technique would be taught, it would be creative and we would “show off” our skills to get recognition. There was an unwritten mission statement in my heart.
It was 1972, when Olga Korbut dazzled the world with her innovative routines, that we expanded to the Dance/Gymnastics School under Adzema’s Pharmacy. When one of the girls broke my nose while I was spotting her back hand spring, I asked my brother Paul to join me. Our enthusiasm about starting a gymnastics team and bringing something new to the community gave us excitement and a common goal. Our successes in competition whet our appetite to grow the business.
The “gym” under the pharmacy was 1400 square feet. It had brick pillars in the center of two rooms and 10 foot ceilings. We knew that we needed a bigger facility, so in 1976, we added a second location on Route #8 above Anderson’s Car Wash. We hired Nick and Allison Hoburg to team-teach with us. Mary Jayne Sirianni (Terak) was our next employee. Sue George was hired as a part-time assistant.
In 1980 we built the 7000 square foot gym on Wildwood Rd. We were expecting the Olympic games to give us a lot of publicity as it had in previous Olympic years, but the US decided to boycott the Moscow Games. Fortunately, our new facility was a great drawing card and we weathered the boycott and the recession. In 1984, with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, we added 4000 feet to the side of the gym and built the “gym house” for Paul. The strong support of gym parents helped us continue expanding the gym for the next 12 years. And as the enrollment grew we brought in my brothers Brian and Nick to round out our staff and head our developmental and boys programs.
In 1990 Paul married Kathy Hart. This was a significant merger in the history of the gym because Kathy took over the job of running the office. It’s hard to believe that we had survived for over 20 years without that important office position but we moved into the 90’s with a real office manager, a computer and an answer machine. The gym took a significant step to become a business.
The 90’s brought the addition of the second generation of Jewart’s to work at the gym. My three sons Randy, Alex and Ben certainly added innovation and a challenge to the status quo to the business. In 1992, during the Barcelona Games we completed our next addition. We expanded the rear of the gym to set up a second vault runway and the boys” area and added the Lucky Star gym and dance room downstairs. The rockwall pit area was added in 1993 and in 1994 we moved the pre-school gym upstairs and put in our awesome cave climbing area.
Scott Carslaw came aboard in 1998 as assistant boys coach. Lainy joined the staff full-time in 2001 and Kamelia Velkova began working in 2002. Tim Bonomi joined us in 2004. In 2006 Katie returned from Colorado and joined the family business. Currently,our former Northstars, Jeff Malone, Jamie Stark, Kiinsey Basco and Amanda Wilson coach our teams. Dana Thomas is our Rec Director taking care of our Jewel team, Lucky Stars and tumbling classes. Ariane Restelli is our pre-school director and Justin Mech is Climb North/Facility Manager.
The growth and evolution of Jewart’s Gymnastics has been due to the commitment our family has to the kids we coach and the joy we find in developing youngsters in the sport of gymnastics. The support of the parents of the kids we have worked with, have inspired and influenced our decisions more than they will ever know. The final key has been the wonderful staff and the former gymnasts that have worked with us over the years that have been instrumental in helping us carry on our mission. Our heartfelt thanks to Michelle Lichina Packer, Michelle O’Connor, Nicky Eisel, Kim Gillespie Smart, Louie Liguori, and Candi Robbins.
Fabulous at 45! Wow! OUr new team training center and the remodeling of the original gym is the crowning jewel to many years of commitment to our gymnasts and our family. We now have 30,000+ sq ft. of gym space. We have been honored by the University of Pittsburgh Katz School of Business as1999 Family Business of the Year. Mrs. Jewart has been a distinguished recipient of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business, a Leveling the Playing Field Award by the Women and Girls Foundation in 2007 and the top 25 Women in Pittsburgh in 2009. As a family and as friends we are proud to be a work in progress: Proud to be leaders in bringing the world of gymnastics to Pittsburgh: Proud to have the opportunity to coach such great kids: And proud to be the 2013 Level 8 and Diamond State Champions and Level 9 Girl's runners-up and Level 9 Boys team State Champs. Thanks for reading about our history.