New business bounds into new site
Don Carter watched proudly as one of his students won gold at a national tumbling and trampoline championship last week in Kansas City.
“We pride ourselves in training students who are national champion caliber gymnasts in tumbling and trampoline,” he said.
That is the kind of gymnast Carter hopes to train at his new facility, Skywalkers Trampoline and Tumbling, in Marion.
“My goal is to offer this area the big time gym, without having to go to a big town to get it,” he said. “The new space will allow us to grow and expand and train athletes at the same caliber as those we already train in other areas.”
His gym above St. Luke Auxiliary Shop will move soon into the warehouse part of the former Arlie’s building in Marion’s industrial park.
The new site will allow for new activities such as more competitive tumbling teams, adult fitness classes, and more dance classes. It also will have something 7-year-old student Trevor Schafers said he would appreciate: air conditioning.
Carter has more than 50 students signed up for tumbling, and 10 to 20 in dance classes, which were added June 1.
He said the support from the community had been amazing.
“The building we are in was just a stopgap,” Carter said. “After the support and encouragement from the community, I decided I did not want to move the gym out of Marion even if I found the perfect space elsewhere.”
The gym will be equipped with a tumbling floor, a bounce floor, two trampolines and a 50-foot tumbling trampoline.
“These aren’t your normal trampolines,” he said. “These are $3,000, high powered trampolines. You get off one of those things and get on a normal trampoline, and you do not even feel like you are jumping.”
He hopes that the gym will attract students from other towns.
“Right now we have a few students from Hillsboro,” he said. “I chose this area for the gym because there are a few decent sized towns here. My hope is that students from Hillsboro, Peabody and even Herington will come and use the gym.”
Diane Jeffrey, Marion cheer coach, has been helping Carter since the gym opened in February.
“He is doing great with the kids,” Jeffrey said. “He is very interactive with kids of all ages, and we are so fortunate to have this gym in our community.”
Carter said he had never seen so many strong kids come out of one area.
“I’m a good coach and I’ve taught classes where it takes a year for even one student to learn a back hand spring,” Carter said. “Several of my students at the Marion gym got it after a few weeks. I had several in one class complete it at the same time, and about 10 are nearly there.”
Local students already are training to compete in high-level competitions next year. One of those students is Emily Schafers, 13, of Marion.
“Gymnastics is something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “When Mom found out there was a gym starting in town I really wanted to sign up. I’m flexible so I do really well.”
Carter said his Marion students were just as good as students at his Wichita gym.
“We have a group of exceptionally strong kids, and I’m excited to see them compete,” he said.
Trevor and Emily’s mom, Kelley, said she had seen her kids’ confidence grow.
“They both like to swim,” she said. “Now they get in the pool and do flips off the diving board they have never even attempted before. It’s fun to see.”