TNT Gymnastics opened a new season in a spacious new location on Tuesday in downtown Mauston.
The youth club is holding practice sessions at the old Clement’s Furniture Store at 249 East State Street. TNT, which has four gyms spread across southwestern Wisconsin and northeastern Iowa, has seen its numbers grow since coming to Mauston in the summer of 2014. For the past three seasons, the club practiced in a cramped balcony at Grayside Elementary School.
“It was pretty small so we tried fitting in as much equipment as we could with the space we had,” said TNT Mauston Instructor Danielle Mueller. “The past couple sessions we have had 70-80 kids in the gym.”
The Mauston Wrestling Club is in the process of purchasing the old furniture store and TNT will rent the space from the club. The club’s winter/spring season began on Tuesday and will run for 16 weeks, ending on May 23. The gymnasts will meet once a week to practice for a couple hours. For the winter/spring season, about 100 gymnasts have joined TNT’s Mauston club. The club has class sessions for tots (ages 3-4) to the advanced level, which includes high school-aged students.
Mueller said the new location will help keep practices fast-paced, fun and engaging, which is one of TNT’s biggest goals.
“We had about 74 last year so our membership has definitely grown,” Mueller said. “We also want to grow the competitive team in Mauston. We were set to one level, but now we can move up to other levels because we have the equipment to do it.”
The club has several competitions scheduled for the season, including a home meet on Saturday, Feb. 18 at Mauston High School. TNT also has meets scheduled in Milwaukee, Madison and Dubuque, Iowa. This year’s state meet will take place in Elkhorn in March.
Mauston High School doesn’t have a varsity team, so TNT allows young girls interested in gymnastics to learn the sport and compete at a high level.
“We have a super hero theme so first-place winners will get a cape and all the medals are super-hero themed,” Mueller said of the Mauston meet. “It will be a lot of fun.”
Trinity Delaney and Julia Kitch, both 12-year-olds from Mauston, are excited for another season with TNT.
“I’m really excited because we have a lot more space to practice and to get everything down,” Kitch said. “We have a lot more space to flip around.”
Kitch, who has competed in gymnastics for about six years, is pleased to have a nice facility in Mauston. Prior to that, Kitch traveled to Reedsburg to compete.
“I love that TNT because it is kind of disciplined and it gives you something to focus on,” Kitch said. “It’s competitive and I’m a competitive person.”
This season, Kitch is looking forward to showing off her skills at the Harley-Davidson Invite in Milwaukee. The meet, in February, will feature many club teams from across the state.
Delaney, who is entering her third season in gymnastics, is looking forward to improving a few techniques this spring.
“In gymnastics you have many different events; you have vault, beam, bars and floor, so if you don’t like one event, you have three other events to try,” Delaney said. “You get to work on agility, flexibility and strength, so that makes it kind of fun.”
Delaney, who counts Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson as one of her idols, enjoys TNT and plans to continue with the sport through high school. She’s tried other sports, but always goes back to the mat.
“I tried soccer, tennis and basketball and none of them I really liked, at first,” Delaney said. “When I tried gymnastics, I liked it right away and said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to stick with this for awhile.’” I really like the coaches here and they offer two different types of skill levels, which make it more appealing.”