Kara has been working at BIG since September of 2009, but has been around the sport of gymnastics since the age of five and has a great deal of coaching experience. She competed from the age of seven through 22. She became a level 10 gymnast at the age of 12. She was a two-time, Level 10 National qualifier. At the age of 14, she became an elite gymnast for four years. She was also a member of the Elite National team. She received a full athletic scholarship to the University of Illinois-Champaign, where she majored in Marketing. At U of I, she was voted Most Valuable Player, Most Consistent Beam and was also, two-time team captain. She is in the record books for receiving a 9.950 on Floor, a 9.925 on Beam, and 39.375 in the All Around. She was also named to the All BIG TEN Conference Team, two times.
Karen has been coaching gymnastics for over 18 years now and loves working with all of her students! She teaches classes starting at Parent/Tot up through Pre-Developmental Team classes. Karen started as the Recreational Director when BIG opened in 2006 and not only trains coaches and does scheduling for classes, but is the go-to person for everyone at the gym! She is certified in CPR and has worked at many other local gyms in the area.
Coach Lauren has worked at BIG for over four years and works both in the office and in the gym as a Recreational Coach. She teaches many different classes ranging from three and four year olds to Big Shots and grade school classes. Lauren works as the Publicity Chair for the Booster Club and as the Marketing Director for the gym in addition to her office and gym duties. She is also the Meet Assistant for BIG's Annual BIG Dream Classic meet. Whether or not Lauren is in the gym or in the office, you can normally find her at BIG; it is like her second home!
Coach Brittany is a graduate of Aurora University and has a degree in Elementary Education with an endorsement in Language Arts. Brittany loves working with kids and ran her own preschool class at the Genesis Academy. She also has experience teaching Sunday school as well as leading after-school programs at schools in Downers Grove. Brittany is the director and teacher of our new Little Learners Program and is excited to help prepare kids for their next step in their educational career. Brittany coaches recreational classes of all ages and is a great addition BIG!
Dana has been coaching gymnastics for 9 years. She started out as a gymnast herself and competed for 13 years. She was a 3 time Level 10 National Qualifier. She started coaching at BIG in 2006 and coaches both compulsory and optional girls. She is also our in-house choreographer. She has choreographed routines for high school, college, and competitive club gymnasts. Before BIG, she coached Level 8 -10 State and Regional Champions 2002-2006. She attended coaching classes at the Olympic training center and has trained National Team members. Dana is one of our most talented coaches and one of the most talented choreographers around! She has invented two skills that are now in the National Code of Points (Concannon 1 and Concannon 2).
Mike coaches everything from recreational classes to our GIJO and USAG teams. Mike has experience coaching many children activities and flourishes in a teaching environment. Mike graduated Parkland College in Champaign, Illinois in 2008 with a degree in Special Education. Mike has a lot to bring to our program bringing experience in from other sports. He has coached speed training and hopes to bring that into the training of our gymnasts. In addition to his coaching experience, Mike has also worked at Park Districts in Champaign while he was at school. He looks forward to meeting all of your gymnasts., and to bringing his extensive knowledge of sports and children’s activities to our gym.
Blaize is currently a member of THE Ohio State Men's Gymnastics program. This is one of the top Men's collegiate programs in the nation! Blaize grew up going to an extremely competitive gym in Indiana, DeVeau's Gymnastics. He has coached for several years, at Ohio State as well as at his hometown gym. He is well versed on all the events, and will be excellent help with Vault, Bars, and Floor. Blaize is extremely excited to join us for the summer and looking forward to helping out with spotting and coaching everything and anything!!!! We can't wait to put him to work!
Coach Alli first caught the gymnastics bug when she was 2 years old in a mom-tot class. She was a daredevil toddler with far too much energy and she’s been in love with the sport ever since. She competed in club gymnastics all through middle school and into high school. She eventually retired as a level 7 due to complications with her spine, but that didn’t stop her desire to compete and perform. She walked onto the varsity diving and cross country teams in high school and then the varsity track and cheerleading teams at her college, William Jewell. Immediately following graduation, Coach Alli began coaching at her old club gym and has not stopped coaching gymnastics to this day. She loves working with and inspiring children to learn and to grow as athletes and people. She is so excited to become a member of the BIG team!!
Melissa comes to BIG with over 30 years of dance experience. She has trained with The Elmira-Corning Ballet (New York), The Northwest Ballet Company, The Minnesota Dance Theatre, Lou Conte Dance Company and The Ruth Page Dance School. Melissa has also taught tumbling and dance for the Minneapolis Park District and local preschools. She currently teaches recreational classes and team dance at BIG. She looks forward to sharing her love of dance and gymnastics with all of her students.
Coach Danye has been involved with gymnastics since the age of 5 years old. She received a scholarship to compete for the University of Illinois where she was teammates with our Head Coach Kara. Coach Danye is a mom of two and loves working with kids. Danye loves being a part of the gymnastics community and is excited to coach our Xcel girls.
Coach Kara started participating in gymnastics at the age of 3 years. By the time she was 11 years old she was already a level 9 on the competitive USAG team and was attending Nationals! She has now been coaching gymnastics for over 9 years and dance for 6 years. Coach Kara has a Bachelors degree in Biology from UIC and is currently working on her Masters degree in Education. She is currently one of our fantastic Xcel coaches and is looking forward to seeing the girls progress.
Coach Katie has been competing for BIG since 2006 and has been a gymnast since she was 3. She is currently a senior at Naperville North high school as well as a Level 10 here at BIG. Coach Katie was a Level 9 National Qualifier her freshman year of high school. She coaches all compulsory levels on all events. She loves the sport and loves helping her teammates become better gymnasts!
Coach Kristen has been involved in gymnastics since the age of three. By the time she was in eighth grade, she was already competing as a Level 9 gymnast! Kristen also competed for her high school, Hinsdale Central where she set the all-around record at 38.275. One of Kristen’s greatest accomplishments is her 9.875 vault score! Coach Kristen coaches everything from preschool classes to compulsory floor for team. She is a very valuable member of the BIG family!
Coach Jordan is one of the most recent additions to the BIG family. She has quite an extensive background working with children of all ages. For the past five years, Coach Jordan has been a swim instructor and has led lessons for children ages one - 16 years old. She was also the go-to instructor for parent-tot classes. Coach Jordan has coached cheerleading squads and camps for girls 1st grade - 7th grade. She has taught religious education for 1st, 2nd and 5th graders for the past few years. We are looking forward to having Coach Jordan as part of the team and for her to bring her knowledge and experience to our classes. She will coach everything from parent and tot classes to tumbling.
Coach Sami has been a dancer for over 16 years! In high school, she was a 3 time State Champion in Kick and Pom Dance. She was also one of the primary choreographers for many of the routines. Currently, Coach Sami is one of our recreational instructors as well as a birthday party coach and camp assistant. Sami loves working with children and cannot wait to incorporate her past experience into her classes.
Coach Nina began with the sport of gymnastics 14 years ago. She was a competitive gymnast for 10 years retiring at level 9. Coach Nina loves working with children and is teaching everything from preschool to Xcel.