Anna Gishler with the Polarettes practises vaulting in Whitehorse on Nov. 9, 2017. The club reopened its doors May 19, beginning its first phase of a three-phase approach to getting the club running again. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)

Gymnasts return to Polarettes

Club reopens, summer camps also approved

Yukon gymnasts are back in action with the Polarettes Gymnastics Club in Riverdale being the first gymnastics club in the country to reopen since being closed in March amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The club reopened its doors May 19, beginning its first phase of a three-phase approach to getting the club running again.

Under the Return to Play policy the club has come up with, it is experienced competitive athletes over the age of 10 that are back to the club in Phase 1. Groups are limited to six and it is training for basic gymnastics only so that coaches don’t need to spot athletes.

“It feels absolutely wonderful to have the competitive athletes back in the gym. They are ecstatic to be back; this gym is their second home. We had our first practice on (May 19) and saw the biggest smiles and giggles,” head coach Kimberly Jones stated in a May 20 email.

Phase 2 of the plan is expected to begin June 1 and will see competitive athletes over the age of eight back to the club while Phase 3 is anticipated for June 15 with recreational athletes over age eight and all competitive gymnasts to return.

In all cases, groups will be limited to six and coaches will not be spotting athletes.

It was also announced May 26 the territory’s chief medical officer of health has approved the Polarettes plans for summer day camps.

“We are working as fast as we can to get information out to our members and community, but we are waiting for a few little things to take place before we can officially say YES we are running camp,” Jones stated in an email to families. “We are really working hard to get camps going so that Yukoners can return to work! Our camps going to be a little different this year, we’re going to be outside a lot more, and operate in small ‘Camper Crews’ instead of operating as one large camp, but guaranteed a lot of fun!”

Jones said the club began looking at ways to reopen a couple of weeks before the plan was approved. She said she’s been fortunate to brainstorm with officials at other clubs across the country about logistics, cleaning measures and other factors that had to be considered.

“Then I spent hours looking through the Yukon COVID-19 website and narrowed down the information that best applied to our facility and based our plan off the plan for Yukon childcare facilities, because we’re such a specific industry, we felt our best chance was to be proactive and show Yukon Health that we could open,” Jones recalled. “With the help of our board of directors, we approved the plan and submitted it to Yukon Health. After that it took about five days and two phone calls with Yukon Health to get their feedback! The process ran smooth and we couldn’t be happier.”

Being the first club in the country to reopen is an honour, she said, noting she’s had a lot of calls from officials with other clubs asking about cleaning and distancing measures in place as they get their reopening plans in place.

“The gymnastics community across Canada is a small community, and everyone across the country has been sharing ideas and collaborating.”

Contact Stephanie Waddell at stephanie.waddell@yukon-news.com

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