While some competitors dread the day they will walk away from their chosen sport, Tianna Gill always had her plan in place.
Even before she had stepped away from competing in gymnastics, Gill has begun the transition to coaching.
She began in the sport as a competitor when she was nine or 10 years old and had some friends involved in the sport. Up until then, Gill had been a skater.
“I wanted to try something different so I tested it out and really enjoyed it,” she explained.
“I loved it every time I went there (to Langley Gymnastics Foundation). It was definitely my sport — I found it and fell in love with it.”
On Saturday, the now 23-year-old was recognized with a PLAY Gymnastics coach of the year award at Gymnastics BC’s awards banquet at the Hilton Hotel in Burnaby.
The awards are for coaches who exemplify the PLAY principles, which are that gymnastics is for everyone and an important foundation for physical literacy, health, fitness and an active lifestyle.”
Gill got into coaching 10 or 11 years ago, even before she was done competing.
“It was hard giving it up, but coaching helped make the transition easier,” she said.
She now coaches athletes at the recreational level — the same level she competed at — between the ages of two and 13.
“Her passion and dedication to the club’s Gymnastics For All programs is undeniable,” wrote her nomination letter from LGF for the award.
“She coaches all levels of recreational gymnastics where she constantly demonstrates her keen ability to ‘meet her athletes where they’re at.’ The gentleness Tianna shows to her youngest participants helps them feel safe and trust her.
“Her natural ability to sense when her older athletes are scared or unsure helps them find the courage and confidence to work through challenges and achieve success. As a mentor coach at Langley Gymnastics, Tianna is a great example to the junior coaches and Coaches-In-Training.
”Above all, she is deserving of this award for her ability to help anyone, regardless of skill, build confidence in their own abilities.”
Gill had no idea she was nominated for the award until she received a letter in the mail informing her she was a recipient.
“It means a lot to me because it is the sport I love and I am doing it with kids,” she said.
“I enjoy having an impact on kids, challenging them and watching them succeed.
“The smile on their face when they get a skill they have been working very hard for for a long time is the best part of my job. Their face when they light up makes my day.”
Gill spends on average about 21 hours per week coaching, juggling that job with her studies at the University of the Fraser Valley as she works towards her degree in psychology.