Sunday, December 7, 2014

Brookie - Our Little “Tink” Gymnast

Brookie - Our Little “Tink” Gymnast

When we opened our gym over 24 years ago, my wife Kathy, and I knew that we needed to do
more than teach and coach technical gymnastics skills.  We both had teaching degrees and we both knew in our hearts that the children we would be coaching needed more than gymnastics….we needed to teach them things that were soft “people” skills too: family life, leadership, teamwork, critical thinking skills, problem solving, honor about all...all things they would need to grow up and become a productive citizen, a loving wife if they chose to get married and most of all a wonderful rounded person that can deal with anything life throws at them.  And oh yes...the most important lessons we would need to teach them was all about Character First...why leading with Character first was so important.

So, our journey like many of your life’s journeys began long ago, started in June of 1990.  Against all odds, and people who told us we would not last more than 6 months in Rice Lake, we have been coaching and operating our gym for over 24 years now….soon it will be a quarter of a century.  People say that you need to be passionate about what you do to make a living….well Kathy and I were passionate, and still are, about making a difference in the lives of the children we coach and teach.  Winston Churchill also said we make a living by what we get but a life by what we give.”  We have given our lives to the children that have been at our gym.

Many of our gymnasts knows us as Gym Pa and Gym Ma….and of course they were (and always will be) our Gym Daughters.  Our gym was once their home, and still is, it will always be their home….and many come back to visit often and even coach for us.  As the years go by, many gym daughters come back home to the gym to a new set of team kids or classes and experience the gift of being able to pour themselves into the lives of the younger gymnasts, much like Kathy and I and many of our other coaches did for them.  So, life really is about family and this case our little gymnastics community.  

You see, we decided, when we opened so many years ago, that Family needed to come first….so many children do not have a Father or Mother and some have neither.  There needed to be a Home where kids could come and play and learn about health, physical fitness, gymnastics, but also about life, and have a Mother or Father figure to look up to.  Today so many parents may be physically in the home, but seem to be absent in heart.  That is why we always say at “Deutsch’s it is always a Family affair.”  And over the years, we have literally coached thousands of children from the time they were preschoolers until they grew up and it was time to leave their Gym Home.  That is what this story is about...our Gym Family...and most importantly the journey of one of our little gymnasts, Brooke Baures who we so affectionately called Brookie when she first came in the gym and who I later gave another nickname to.

I always try to give nicknames to my gymnasts (gym daughters) when it is appropriate.  One of our gym daughters was so small and petite that I was actually afraid to spot her at first, because her body frame was so tiny and fragile.  So, I could not think of a better nickname than Tink, since she was so light and Tinker Bell at Disney.  
Tink came from a great family that had a wonderful Mother and Father that she was blessed with.  So, over the last 15 years or more, Tink ( Brookie Baures) has been one of our gym daughters, and we have had the privilege and pleasure of helping grow her from a little gymnast that liked to muscle up her kips on bars to a National USAG Gymnast, and most recently a Nationally ranked All-American National Collegiate gymnast.  She was the gymnast who would never leave the gym at the end of practice each day until she gave me (her Gym Dad) a great big hug…..even when she was in college….she still came a gave me a hug whenever she came home to our gym….what a special privilege.  What an amazing journey her life was!

And it was a journey….a wonderful journey...fraught with tears, and smiles, and wins, and losses, and successes and disappointments.  So much of life is measured by the external things we deem important, but over the years, we were privileged to coach and teach Tink on so many more things about life than just gymnastics….including:  6 Pillars of Character Counts, life with boys (who don’t grow a brain until they are 21, I would always tell her), family, leadership, teamwork, being willing to fail and try again, lots of project X’s, trips to gym meets, inner tubing outings too numerous to count and much more.  She was like a daughter to us.  Thank you Mom and Dad for trusting her with us...for believing in what we were doing to help you grow up your little girl.  It was a privilege to have had the honor of being called Tink’s Gym Pa and Gym Ma.

So, today on this very sad and hallowed occasion, we mourn the death of Tink, but we also celebrate her success in life.  Having read literally dozens of posts on facebook, and received many emails from other gyms and coaches, it is obvious that our wishes came true for Tink.  So many people talking about her leadership, and teamwork, and attitude, and love for life regardless of the successes and/or failures.  Tink was truly learning to treat success and failure both the same.  Most importantly, she learned that she could do and be anything if she just believed.  Her favorite quote was one I taught her in the gym over the years, “whether you think that you can, or you can’t, you are usually right.”  Henry Ford said that.  When she first heard that quote, she didn’t get it at all…..she asked me what it meant, and so over the course of several years, we taught her the importance of how right thinking (attitude) was key to believing in ourselves and achieving our goals in life.  Our greatest achievement with any of our gym daughters is when we can help them learn that if they believe in themselves and keep at it, they can accomplish anything they set their hearts and minds on.  Tink learned that and she taught many others the same thing.

Kathy and I will miss you so much Tink!  We will see you again soon!

Love with big hugs from both of us,
Your Gym Pa & Gym Ma