Children as young as 3 and 4 learn gymnastics

Published 12:01 am Tuesday, May 1, 2018

NATCHEZ — For Kim Strawbridge and HattieRose Marshall, the greatest reward of coaching at Natchez Gymnastics is seeing a child accomplish their goals.

“I’ve seen some work on a skill, and work on a skill, and they couldn’t get it,” Marshall said, “Then when they got it, tears of joy . . . nothing better than seeing tears of joy and excitement.”

Before moving to Natchez, Marshall lived in New York and worked as an educator for 11 years and has been involved with gymnastics for more than 30 years. She said seeing the light bulb go off, when students accomplish something, is the greatest.

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Marshall said when it comes to coaching she hopes her athletes enjoy what they’re learning and develop an understanding of discipline and work ethic. 

Marshall said she likes seeing students work hard to accomplish their goals.

“If you fail the first time you have to get back up and try again,” Marshall said. 

Students are currently working on their routines for a spring program.

Children as young as 3 and 4 years old are enrolled in the preschool class.

Strawbridge said gymnastics has many benefits for children of such a young age.

“It helps with hand-and-eye coordination, balance, body control body awareness,” she said. “It also has been proven that it helps them when they go upside down, to help distinguish the letters “b” and “d” it works opposite sides of the brain.” 

Strawbridge said her biggest hope for her students is that they leave feeling good about themselves. 

“It helps their self-esteem, helps them to learn how to bond with friends,” Strawbridge said.

Strawbridge has been coaching gymnastics there for 28 of the 35 years Natchez gymnastics has been open.

“As long as God will provide this for us, we will keep offering it.” Strawbridge said.