Hudson School of Gymnastics ready for 12th season
Seaok An hopes to make some young Hudson-area girl a gymnastics star.
She's on the lookout for pre-school girls with the right body form, strength, agility and perseverance to excel at the sport.
You never know -- the next Shawn Johnson, a gold and silver medal-winner at 2008 Olympic Games -- could be living in our midst.
An and her husband, Hwichul Kim, certainly have the credentials to dream big.
She was a four-year member of the national gymnastics team in her native South Korea. Later, she coached the women's team for the 1983 World Championships and 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.
An was president of the technical committee that selected the judges and set up the women's gymnastics competition for the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea.
She served as a judge at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, and at several more-recent World Championship games.
She was a professor of physical education and sports at the University of Kyung-Hee in South Korea before coming to the United States in 1999 to coach at a gym in Woodbury, Minn.
Kim joined her in the spring of 2000. He was South Korea's all-round men's gymnastics champion for 10 consecutive years. After retiring from competition, he coached and taught at a South Korean high school.
When the Woodbury gym where An was coaching closed, she and Kim opened the Hudson School of Gymnastics in a rented space in St. Croix Business Park.
They have since purchased a home in the town of Troy. In 2006, they built their own gym at 2760 Enloe St. in St. Croix Business Park.
They're very happy to be living and working in the Hudson area, An said in a visit to the Star-Observer office last week.
Their son, Jack, who married recently, assists them in coaching and operating the gym.
The school's competitive gymnasts had good success during the 2010-11 season.
Level 7 gymnast Olivia Dunlap capped off the season by winning the All-round title at the state meet in Rice Lake.
Dunlap will compete with the Hudson High School team this year as a sophomore.
"She is a very good gymnast. She will improve the high school team a lot," An said.
Level 6 gymnasts Jackie Balsiger and Kelsey Miller placed first and second, all-round, at season-ending tournament at Chaska, Minn.
The Level 4 and 5 gymnasts earned first-place team trophies at Chaska.
The members of the Level 4 team include Ashley and Halle Peterson, Lane Burke and Megan Michaels, students at E.P. Rock Elementary School; Kayla Belany and Kaitlyn Zignego, who attend River Crest Elementary; and Paige Hillman of Houlton.
Hillman and Ashley Hay of Somerset qualified for the Wisconsin State Invitational meet.
An is looking forward to a new season and discovering preschool girls who will contribute to the success of future teams.
Registration is under way for the first session of the fall programs that begins Sept. 6. Each of the five sessions in the coming season runs for eight weeks.
A variety of classes are available for girls and boys ages 3 and up. Fees range from $95 for one 40-minute session per week for three- and four-year-olds to $340 for two 85-minute sessions per week for intermediates.
The complete program schedule is available online at www.hudsongymnastics.com. You can also call the gym at (715) 381-8145 for more information.
A Hudson School of Gymnastics brochure lists 10 reasons to become a competitive gymnast. They include improved academic performance, learning to be a team player and to manage time, better physical fitness, and building character and self-esteem.
"At Hudson Gymnastics, our goal is to provide your child with a positive, nurturing, safe and energetic learning experience," the brochure says. "We aim to build strength, flexibility, endurance, self-confidence and a sense of achievement through a mastery of new skills, all while having fun with the sport of gymnastics."