The Washington state men’s gymnastics championship meet is coming to Clark County for the first time in more than 20 years.
This is the ground breaking opportunity members of the host Vancouver Elite Gymnastics Academy have been striving for since they moved into the Camas Armory building in 2004. It has become home base for gymnasts, dancers, musicians and cheerleaders.
“People from all different walks of life come here,” said founding coach and co-owner Randy Fox. “VEGA started with 10 kids 10 years ago. Now, there’s well over a thousand. That’s all from word of mouth and our loyal community.”
A total of 218 competitors from 22 different clubs will converge for the state meet Saturday and Sunday, at the Clark County Event Center, 17402 N.E. Delfel Road, in Ridgefield. VEGA sends 13 gymnasts, ranging from levels 4 to 10 and ages 6 to 18.
“I am personally thankful that we get the opportunity to showcase gymnastics in our area and promote the sport,” said director and coach Zdravko Stoianov. “The consistency of everything pays off after supporting boys and girls gymnastics for all these years. We hope our kids have a great experience, and that they bare the fruits of their labor.
“Our main goal is to continue to expand,” he added. “We’re bursting at the seams here, but we’re not going to stop growing.”
This is the first of two qualifying meets to get to the national championships. Regionals are April 13 to 15 in Portland, Ore. Nationals are May 7 to 9, in Long Beach, Calif.
Trace Jacquot, a 17-year-old Level 10 gymnast from Hockinson, hopes to return to nationals for the second year in a row. He looks forward to kick starting the journey in his own backyard.
“State is going to be one of the most exciting meets, especially since we’re hosting it,” Jacquot said. “We want to perform to the best of our abilities. Just hit every routine and support each other throughout. We want to make people remember it.”
Jacquot has made VEGA a priority for the past six years, despite living about 15 miles away.
“I couldn’t ask for better teammates or a coach,” he said. “Every reward and medal I get is representative of VEGA.”
Ryan Dieztman lives within walking distance of VEGA. He enjoys being a part of this revolution of gymnastics and performing arts in Camas.
“We started out with just a trampoline and a couple of beams, and now we have all these coaches, gymnasts, dancers and cheerleaders who come here every day,” Dietzman said. “We’ve just grown in every aspect there is to grow in.”
Through all this expansion, the VEGA way has not changed. These coaches are shaping better gymnasts by increasing their physical attributes of power, strength, flexibility, grace, poise and presence, but they are also inspiring better people.
“It feels like a family,” Dietzman said. “Not only am I building a brotherhood with my teammates, but I also have a lot of love for the coaches. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.”