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Stacey Croston was 10 years old when a visit to a friend’s house changed her life forever.
The two girls’ afternoon included a spirited gymnastics session in the backyard. And while neither had any training, their homemade moves – especially Stacey’s – were impressive enough to catch the eye of her friend’s parents.
“Her dad took me home and immediately went to talk to my parents,” Croston recalled with a laugh. “I thought I was in trouble … but he was talking to them about how they should enroll me in gymnastics.”
The rest is history: Croston’s parents did indeed enroll her in a class, and she excelled immediately. Three decades later, she has made a career in the sport she loves.
Her passion for gymnastics led to her first coaching job at age 18. She coached a USA Gymnastics Club in her home state of Virginia for 21 years before moving to the Lowcountry in 2012, where she led a club team on Daniel Island.
Last month, Croston made one more career move, this time to the City of Goose Creek Recreation Department. She is the new Head Gymnastics Coach, and has been tasked with rebuilding and guiding the program into the future.
Recreation Superintendent Cheryl Heiselman said that Croston’s passion made her the right choice for Goose Creek. “We are so excited to have Stacey leading our gymnastics team,” Heiselman said. “Her enthusiasm and experience set her apart.”
When it comes to the future, there is cause for optimism.
Soon, Croston will have a new, 11,000-square-foot gymnastics center at her disposal – and her enthusiasm about the facility is hard to contain. “I am so excited,” she said. “It’s going to be great … it will be the state-of-the-art facility in this area.”
The gymnastics center is the focal point of a 35,000-square-foot Activity Center under construction on the city’s Municipal Center campus. The gymnastics area will include seating for 300, locker rooms, and modern equipment.
The facility, which will replace the existing Casey Center, is set to open in 2018, and will put Goose Creek in position to not only grow its own gymnastics program, but to become a drawing point for area competition. Croston envisions hosting local, state, and even regional meets.
First, though, she is focused on energizing and transforming the city’s gymnastics program. She has already increased the number of kids enrolled from 90 to over 170. “With the staff we have now, we could be at 250,” she said. “I would love to be over 300. We’re trying to build the competitive side as well as the recreational.”
Programs are available for boys and girls of all ages. Competitive teams are in place for ages 4 and up, and a wide array of classes is offered for all ages and skill levels. Gymnasts receive individual attention; the student-to-coach ratio is 6-to-1 for the younger kids, and 8-to-1 for the older.
When she’s talking to parents, Croston said gymnastics is an easy sell: “It teaches you discipline and respect. Not only is it great for fitness, but it’s a great starter for any sport for hand-eye coordination alone. It will take you anywhere.”
Croston credits her staff of five assistant coaches with keeping the program afloat in the weeks leading up to her arrival. In her short time on the job, she has implemented a host of changes, including a more structured approach that includes the use of skill charts, progress reports and lesson plans.
“The staff has been really open to the changes,” she said. “They have jumped in, and they really like the guidance.”
When she’s not on the job, Croston enjoys exploring the Lowcountry. “I would go to the beach every day if I could,” she said. “I love the area.”
For more information on the city’s gymnastics program, call (843) 572-1321, visit www.goosecreekrecreation.com, or stop by the Casey Center at 101 Old Moncks Corner Road in Goose Creek.