A firefighter from Wrexham has become one of the leading figures at his daughter’s gymnastics club, nine years after being introduced to the sport.
43 year-old British Gymnastics member, Col Jones is a Crew Manager for North Wales Fire and Rescue Service and in 2010 he started bringing his daughter, Izzy to Abbey Road Acrobatic gymnastics club.
After a number of sessions, Col was asked by some of the coaches if he could help out and from that point on, he was hooked.
“When I worked shifts, I used to take Iz there a lot,” Col began to explain. “Whilst she was a recreational gymnast I would help now and again and do the odd strength class with the older gymnasts. As Iz progressed I found myself at the club a little more often and so started to help during other classes.
“Now I have two daughters who are both in partnerships and compete. I coach there at least four days a week sometimes four hours a day and I try to get involved with all the classes so I can see the development of the gymnasts and get to know them all.”
Col has completed his UKCC Level 1 and Level 2 in Acrobatic gymnastics and is hoping to complete his Level 3 in the near future.
The nature of his roles may be very different, but Col believes that there are skills he has gained from firefighting that have helped with his progression in coaching.
“There are many skills in both roles which are transferable. Communication is a key in both and also good organisational skills help. As a Crew Manager I plan, allocate and deliver training to the Watch as well as dealing with operational incidents. I also liaise with other agencies and all types of members of the public. I need to communicate my ideas and thoughts in a manner that all can understand, very similar to coaching gymnastic skills. Everyone learns different and it’s important to change or vary your style accordingly.”
Col has always been interested in health and fitness and admits if he hadn’t become a firefighter, he would have become a PE teacher. Now that he is involved in coaching, Col is starting to experience the best of the both worlds.
“I get to help mould the way in which young people think. I see young people come into the club at the age of five, build their own personality in the gym, become confident young adults and gain life skills whilst having fun. Seeing gymnasts work together laugh and have fun makes it all worth it.”
Col is just one member of the gymnastics coaching workforce who are helping to create fun and safe environments for people to enjoy our sport. They are role models who are delivering education about the sport and providing people with life skills they can take with them outside the gym.
“Gymnastics is more than just about being able to perform moves. It creates an environment of self-discipline, trust and self-belief. I believe its paramount to have good coaches who have good principles and thus provide the ideal environment in which gymnasts and the coaches of tomorrow are able to develop. If you spend time with young people, then you owe it them to be the best you can be to help them become the best they can be.”
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