Posted 3/24/15 (Tue)
By Amy Robinson
Farmer Staff Writer
The Badlands Gymnastics Club is bringing in professional aerialist and acrobat, Jen Bricker, to perform at their annual Night of Stars show this upcoming weekend. Bricker will also be attending assemblies on Friday, March 27, at both the Watford City Elementary School and the Watford City High School.
“Night of Stars is an evening where all of our gymnasts, from babies to teenagers, get to perform a routine showcasing what they have learned all year,” says Kelcee Wold, Badlands Gymnastics Club Board of Directors president. “Along with them, we are so excited to have Jen Bricker performing this year! Her performances are sure to amaze the crowd and inspire our gymnasts.”
Born without legs, Bricker’s biological parents left her at the hospital. One would think she would be destined for a life of hardship. However, the hand of destiny brought her an amazing adoptive family, who gave her one simple rule, “Never say the word, Can’t.”
As a child, Jen was obsessed with gymnastics, and her idol was gold-medalist, Dominique Moceanu. In fact, watching Moceanu on TV, helped inspire Bricker to start competing herself. Seemingly against all odds, Bricker went on to compete against able-bodied athletes, and became a State Champion in power tumbling. As part of her amazing story, and as a twist of fate would have it, Bricker later learned that her childhood gymnastics idol, Moceanu, was actually her biological sister.
Always challenging herself, Bricker transitioned into an accomplished acrobat and aerialist. As such, she travelled internationally with Britney Spears’ World Tour, and appeared as the headliner at the prestigious Palazzo hotel in Las Vegas, and the Shangri La hotel in Dubai.
Bricker’s incredible story has been featured on multiple shows, including HBO Real Sports, 20/20 and Good Morning America. She is currently living in Los Angeles, and has added a successful speaking career to her list of accomplishments, including being featured in one of the well-renowned TED talks.
When Bricker arrives in Watford City to perform at the annual Night of Starts gymnastics show this Saturday, she is also hoping to inspire and motivate the elementary and high school students she speaks to during Friday’s assemblies, to believe that anything is truly possible. The assembly at the elementary school will start at 9:45 a.m. and the assembly at the high school will follow at 1:30 p.m.
This year, as the club’s 27th season comes to a close, the Badlands Gymnastics Club will present its peak performance in this year’s Night of Stars show, Badlands Big Top.
“The circus theme this year has made it really fun for the kids,” said Brandee Proffit, Badlands Gymnastics Club head coach. “I’ve heard some of the kids saying, ‘I’m going to be in the circus!’ They’re just so excited to perform. This year, every level has some sort of circus accessory – which has made it really fun for the kids. Kathy Klang did an awesome job with costumes and the decorating committee worked really hard. I think this year’s show will be really neat for the spectators to enjoy. For most of the kids, if not all of them, this is their special night.”
With close to 220 members this year, the gymnastics club has an exciting night lined up to showcase not only their talents, but their dedication to the sport of gymnastics. Badlands Big Top will feature routines and performances from the Mommy & Me group, to the Tiny Tots group, to the various groups of Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced/Skilled gymnasts. And each group will represent a different aspect of the circus, such as elephants, giraffes, zebras, ponies, hippos, monkeys, tigers, lions and lion tamers, dancing bears, tightrope walkers, pink poodles, clowns, jesters and acrobats. Special performances by Bricker and the Show Team will add magic to complete the night’s circus show.
Coaching this year’s 220 gymnasts are Head Coach Brandee Proffit and Assistant Coaches Kelcee Wold, Tosha Thrift, Amy Elliot, Stephanie Harris, Katie Tschetter, Ardyce Alveshere, Heather Anderson, Melody Schuetzze, Tia McGorman, Jenna Becker, Shandell Guthrie, Katie Winkleman, Ashley Glass, Stephanie Grooms, Katie Signalness, Whitney Goguen and Jeena Herbert.
“As a board member and coach, I want to contribute to the well-organized, professional and successful program that I was so fortunate to be a part of as a kid,” says Wold. “And as a parent, it’s fun and exciting to see your child work hard, overcome fears, and learn new skills.”
The Badlands Gymnastics Club, originally named the Watford City Twisters, is a parent-run organization, which was started in 1984 by Peggy Thom. The club met in the lower level of McKenzie County Bank until the fall of 1991, when the club moved into the McKenzie County Fair Building.
“I was involved in the Badlands Gymnastics program along with my family from 1990 through 2002,” said Wold. “My dad, Kelly, was my coach, along with Peggy Hellandsaas. We traveled the state competing and also performed at many local basketball games. I value the abilities and life lessons it taught me. Now I have my own kids involved and want them to learn the many skills gymnastics has to offer.”
The gymnastics club currently operates in two to three-month sessions, for a total of six months out of the year. The seasons are typically run from September through December and then again from January through March. New this year to the club was an additional class level, an ‘open gym’ time with two open gyms every Friday for the purpose of allowing access to the general public, the possibility for gymnasts to choose multiple class times as opposed to just one, the implementation of the USA gymnastics programs, skills and routines, and the addition of an inflatable 30-foot air track and a giant inflatable mountain and slide for students and children to use.
“A lot of new and exciting things have happened this year,” says Proffit. “We did a number of change-ups and restructuring. And thanks to community donations and generous businesses and individuals, we’ve been able to grow, add new equipment, and give back to our program.”
“It’s never too early or too late to start gymnastics,” says Wold. “The skills learned in the gym are so valuable at any time. Strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, listening, teamwork, following instructions, achievement and fun are just a few of the many wonderful things kids will learn.”
The Badlands Gymnastics Night of Stars program, Badlands Big Top, will be held Saturday, March 28, at 6 p.m. in the Watford City High School gymnasium. Tickets will be $8 for 12 years and up, $6 for ages four through 11 or $20 for families. Children three and under are free.