USECA honors Tony and Paula Gehman
This year, two very dear friends, both of the gymnastic community and myself, have retired from active coaching. Of course, I am speaking of Tony and Paula Gehman.
I think the first time I really met Tony was at a Class 1 State Championship in 1980. He was coaching with Paul Bohrer, “The Sarge” at North Stars Gymnastics and I was working with Dave Feigley coaching at Bridgettes. I honestly don’t remember who won the meet – just that it was a tightly fought contest, one of those where you still feel good about how your kids performed.
We battled back and forth at States over those early years and at some of those big invitationals, too. (This was back when you were actually invited to bring your club and compete – it was a mark of distinction that you were invited.)
Tony was always interested in improving his knowledge, so we talked technique quite a bit, too. In time, as circumstances permitted, I went to work with him at North Stars and spent a total of 17 years with him and Paula.
You can’t talk about Tony without Paula. Paula is a force of nature, both tough and kind, and I must say one of the funniest people I know. She has a tremendous wealth of knowledge and insight into not just the sport itself, but also the kids she’s coached.
They really have been a team to be reckoned with over the years. Always competitive, always doing their best for the kids and the sport. Yin and yang, one balancing the other and both helping each other, and the sport they love, forward.
Tony and Paula have produced several USA National Team members (and Jr. International Champion Anne Woynerowski in 1991) as well as dozens of top Level 10 gymnasts (from Elaine Alfano to Joyce Wilborn, Debi Demasi and Gina Basile to Lisa Gianni and Traci Sommers to Alicia Boren, Rachel Lukas, Jamie Pisani, Noel Couch, to name a few) that have also gone on to strong college careers.
Tony and Paula have always been advocates for their athletes and the sport. Tony’s knowledge of body mechanics is incredible. Most of all, Tony and Paula are always willing to share their knowledge. Anyone was welcome to their gym, visiting coaches and especially judges.
Tony was always the one to go out to make his point. So it comes as no surprise the amount of work he has done for the sport outside his own gym.
Tony was both the USECA and USA Gymnastics Coach of the Year in 1991 and was also voted the Junior Olympic coach of the year in 2008. The club has won the “JO National Club of the Year” twice. He was the author of the “Round-Off Entry Training Guide”, which was used as the standard in the early 1990’s. He also was a national team coach and wrote an excellent breakdown of the critical exercises for beginners to advanced gymnasts.
As the president of the United States Elite Coaches Association from 1991-2001. He was the USECA’s representative to the USAG board of directors and thereby represented the view of the coaching community as well.
Tony has coached gymnasts in competitions in Russia, France, Korea, England, Cuba, Colombia, Peru, Bulgaria and a few others. In 1991 he was co-head coach for the Pan American Games and has had several girls compete in the final Olympic Trials. In 2017 Tony was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
And I have been happy to call them friends over these many years. “Good Luck” in your retirement! (Yeah, sure, I’ll see you at a camp soon!)