Following her successful stint with Old Saybrook's Shoreline Gymnastics, Ivoryton's Alexis Heiney returns this fall to begin her tenure as a junior coach for the program. (Photo courtesy of Alexis Heiney
Ivoryton's Heiney Ready to Give Back as Gymnastics Coach
Published August 28, 2013. Last updated 04:58 p.m., August 27, 2013
Only a junior in high school, Alexis Heiney is ready to step into the coaching realm and give back to the sport she's never let go of since childhood.
While she additionally dives for Mercy, the Ivoryton resident and gymnast is beginning her stint as a junior coach with Shoreline Gymnastics in Old Saybrook. Alex is nervous, yet simultaneously ecstatic to help mold the future of a program that's been a staple throughout her life.
"I did a lot of different sports growing up, yet I always went back to gymnastics and it helped me with other sports," says Alexis, who also played tennis and soccer growing up. "I was a little nervous at first, yet I got there and it's easier with the help of other coaches. It's really great to be around these coaches and give back to something I did for many years."
In developing a philosophy to her new mentorship, Alexis calls upon a golden rule for guiding her young athletes. She says she has to be equally active when her pupils are all over the mats and balance beams.
"I just remember how I was coached and that's how I want to coach them," says Alexis, who's scored a Level 4 Sectional title and was a part of a Level 5 team state crown. "I have to know I am working with younger kids and, with that, I have to keep coaching them every step of the way and never take a break."
As the calendar turns to September, Alexis will begin teaching sessions and basics of the sport while also beginning her school year and diving for Mercy. With her full fall slate, Alexis says it comes down to prioritizing and taking pride in your work.
"It will become hard with adding on school and diving," says the junior. "Basically, my day will be school, off to coaching, and then diving practice until about 9 p.m. I am very devoted and I love whatever I do so that helps me get through it all, plus time management."
The switch to the pool came relatively easy for Alexis given her background as she feels she had diving's essential skills down pat.
"It's been really great diving for Mercy," says Alexis, who finished 14th at the Class L State Championship last fall as a rookie. "I started it last fall and I am really into it now. I already knew how to flip and twist from gymnastics so it really was an easy transition."
Shoreline Gymnastics' owner Diana Marchese expresses that Alexis displayed strong attributes for the squad and expects her to do the same now on the coaching side of the spectrum, in addition to giving the kids a positive physical and emotional experience.
"Alexis was always a team player. She was always responsible, kind, and a hard worker," says Marchese. "When she left gymnastics, we were sad to see her go, but we knew she had great things in store for herself. As a coach, she will be starting in the fall teaching our one-hour classes and the basics of gymnastics, as well as spreading positive energy to those she meets."
Looking at the expectations for her first coaching journey, Alexis aspires to simply watch the kids grow under her tutelage, just as she did when she was in their shoes.
"I just hope I can make them work hard and progress as much as I did," says Alexis, who thanks her former gymnastics coaches in Maureen Pokorny and Justin Hall. "It will be great, though, to teach these kids what I have learned."