coach of the month

Introducing - Olivia McCluskey Coach of the Month - Nov 2017

Olivia McCluskey is being recognized as Wildfire’s Coach of the Month. Many of you know her from her position behind the front desk in Lake Forest the past few years. Others of you are lucky enough to have had a child pass through one of her Parent Tot, Embers or Junior Flames classes. Olivia is one of our most requested preschool gymnastics teachers. She teaches her classes and deals with the customers all with a patient, kind, and loving heart. She also is a great mentor for new, training staff. Olivia’s background is one of an elementary school teacher. Before moving to CA she taught grades 2-4 in North Carolina after graduating from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, with a degree in Elementary Education.

Olivia is married to Adam and together they came to CA in 2015 when Adam was accepted into Chapman University’s Physical Therapy program. Olivia came on board with Wildfire shortly after they settled in the Irvine area and she quickly made herself available to coach and help with the special events we offer. When an office spot opened she took us up on that as well. Olivia is one of the few staff members whose skills support all aspects of the gym.

Olivia was born in Florida and has a brother and sister. She said she loved being the middle child. He sister is 2.5 years older and her brother is 8 years younger. She spent a majority of her growing up years in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of her favorite childhood memories is building forts in the woods behind her best friend’s house. Olivia competed in gymnastics through sixth grade and then through her middle school and high school years, she played soccer and volleyball. She has now spent several years coaching volleyball and gymnastics and says that you learn so much more about a sport when you are on the coaching side.

Olivia says she dabbles with playing the piano and she loves all kinds of breakfast foods. Olivia and Adam have a 5 year old Maltipoo named Boston whom they love talking on neighborhood walks. In her free time, Olivia also enjoys taking yoga classes.

Now that you know all these little details about Olivia, we have to share with you that Olivia’s last day is right before Thanksgiving. Her husband will finish his PT program and they will head back to North Carolina. They have loved their time in southern CA but look forward to returning home and being reconnected with their families.

Olivia adds that she has loved working at Wildfire and has thoroughly enjoyed the customers. She said, “My fellow staff members are amazing and I love spending time with the children who make up my classes. It makes my day when the kids say they wish they could do gymnastics everyday.”

Olivia, you will be missed and today we honor you for not only being named coach of the month but Employee of the Year! Best of luck Olivia…safe travels…we ALL will miss you. Please come back and visit!

Introducing - Taylor Curran
Coach of the Month - Jan 2017

Taylor Curran is being recognized as Wildfire’s Coach of the Month. Taylor is a student at Cal State Fullerton majoring in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. She spent the past two years at Orange Coast College. Taylor grew up locally in Tustin and attended Foothill High School. She has 4 sisters and one brother. Coach Mike was Taylor’s gymnastics coach when she took classes at Wildfire. She also studied ballet for 6 years. In addition, Taylor spent much of her time away from school at the martial arts studio where she began this discipline at age 3 and went on to earn her 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. As busy as she was, she seemingly always kept one foot in the door at Wildfire having three sisters take classes and two go on to be a part of the competitive program. So when it came to looking for a part time job three years ago, Wildfire seemed like the natural choice. She stated teaching the embers and junior flames classes and discovered she really liked teaching technique and decided to open a Gym Team (our in house competitive program) for girls ages 7-10. She has found this type of coaching to be very rewarding; and, the girls love her!

Taylor has a great talent for drawing and painting and finds spending time doing art very relaxing for her. She shared this talent with us this past summer helping to decorate the gym for all of our summer camp themes. Portraits are one of her favorite to draw.

In her “free” time between school and working 5 days a week and birthdays on the weekends, Taylor loves to go to the beach, attend country concerts and line dance. She loves her pet dog and two guinea pigs.

When asked what she likes most about her job at Wildfire she told us, “Kids can make you laugh and make you feel better in an instant if you let them. If life is not so kind one day, I truly look forward to coaching and letting the worries of the day go and letting the love of the kids fill my heart. Coaching is a great stress reliever! Thanks Taylor, we appreciate you and your love of the sport and for passionately sharing your energy and enthusiasm with so many young girls.


Introducing - Russell Cable
Coach of the Month - May 2016

Russell Cable is being recognized this month for only his loyalty and willingness to help Wildfire, as well as the personal growth he has had at the gym. Russell truly loves his job and the children he works with and this is seen on a daily basis not only by the management but by his peers as well. Russell can’t get enough learning. He is always reading up and watching Youtube gymnastics training videos. He loves coaching and may someday want this to be a career for him.

Russell was born and raised in Santa Ana and has a younger sister. He attended Villa Park High School and then graduated through the independent study program of Orange Unified School District He was chosen as speaker of the 2011 class and received the Roger K. Slagle Memorial Scholarship. This academic achievement scholarship was actually started Russell’s graduating year by another teacher who said Russell resembled Mr. Slagle (a teacher who had recently died) and it was to encourage and help Russell start college. Russell found college to be a good fit for him after earlier high school years were a bit of a struggle. He kept his grades up and this spring he graduated from Santiago Canyon College with an AA in psychology and he is a member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. His future plans are to continue schooling at Cal State Fullerton University.

Russell enjoys activities such as handball, working out lifting weights, riding bikes and riding motorcycles but when he came to an open gym at Wildfire one time a few years ago he was immediately hooked on twisting and flipping. Russell met Coach Paris at Wildfire and was told the gym was hiring…and the rest is history. Russell told me, “I never thought I’d be teaching people in the sport I love! I so enjoy the “aha” moment when the child realizes they are stronger and more capable then they thought they were.”

Russell shared that he was basically self-taught in the sport of gymnastics and it began with a trampoline his family had in their backyard. He has landed a back full-in, half out on the trampoline – basically that means he twists 1 ½ times while flipping twice. He loves “all you can eat sushi,” vacationing in Hawaii, and believes in the philosophy of “if you are going to do something, do it right.” Russell likes to make his gymnastics classes fun. He believes in the importance of discipline; be it in sport, work or life in general. If you haven’t seen Russell in action, check out the boys junior flames classes - you’ll be impressed.


Introducing - Veronique Leclerc
Coach of the Month - February 2016

Wildfire Gymnastics would like to introduce you to our Coach of the Month – Veronique Leclerc. Coach Veronique began coaching at Wildfire in May 2015. She came to us from having coached in Utah and was a fit for Wildfire right away with her great love for kids and a true passion for the sport.
Veronique grew up in St. Hubert, a suburb of Montreal, Canada. She has a younger brother and an older sister who both still reside in Canada. Veronique started gymnastics at the age of four. By the time she was seven she was in developmental classes and on a competitive team a year later. She trained at Richelieu Gymnastics in Montreal for 12 years. Veronique’s gymnastic successes took to out of the country to compete in places like Austria, France, Germany, Puerto Rico, and Malaysia as well as many meets in the U.S. Veronique’s favorite event was the uneven bars and in 1997 she competed in the World Championships in Switzerland representing Canada.
Upon graduating from high school, Veronique attended the University of Utah from 2000-2004 on a full scholarship and was an NCAA All American in 2003 with her second place finish on bars. Veronique double majored in Exercise and Sports Science and Anthropology.
Even though Veronique is from Canada and speaks French, her favorite kind of food is Indian – she loves curry anything. Veronique has a set of twins, Sage and Rami – almost 6 years old and a daughter Sunny, 9 years old.
In her “free” time, Veronique loves to read all kinds of books. She loves the out doors, running trails and camping. Veronique truly loves Wildfire and the favorite part of her experiences coaching here is when kids “ring the bell” and she sees the pride they have from accomplishing something they’ve been working on for a long time. She said each child brings their own unique personality to her classes and they make her smile every single day. Veronique teaches the tiny Embers all the way though Girls Academy and this year she has added coaching a Gym Team to her schedule. She enjoys the opportunity to choreograph and teach more advanced skills.
Just as Veronique loves working at Wildfire we love her back. She is very open to subbing classes when we need her and just smiles and says sure when we have to pull her off one class to help us out in another area. She works our PNO events and camps and birthday parties too. Veronique, Wildfire thanks you!


Introducing - Bobby Parish
Coach of the Month - March 2015

Coach Bobby P, as he is known at Wildfire Gymnastics, was selected as Coach of the Month for March 2015 due to the energy and enthusiasm he shows day in and day out for his classes. For Bobby this isn’t a job, it is his passion. He loves to teach children and his studies at Cal State Fullerton allow him to actually put into practice what he is learning at the university. This May, Bobby will graduate with a degree in Kinesiology focusing on Clinical Exercise Sciences and Coaching.

Bobby grew up in Yorba Linda. He graduated from Santiago High School and began coaching in 2009. Bobby participated in recreational gymnastics himself for 7 years. He was never too fond of outdoor sports so gymnastics, being an indoor and year-round sport, was a great fit for him. Bobby also advanced in Tae Kwon Do but wasn’t overly fond of the combative part of that discipline. That is when he knew gymnastics would be his focus. He loved everything about the sport and as he got older became very interested in the physics and technical aspects of how skills are done and taught. He knew teaching would be in his future.

Through Bobby’s seven years of recreational gymnastics, Bobby trained at several local southern CA clubs learning to coach along the way. He thought if he could break the skill down and teach the basics to youngsters, he could better understand the skills he was learning. The sport continues to be a “give back” to him. He helps kids master cartwheels, full turns, etc., and their smile brings him joy and that happiness that completes his day.

With finals and senior projects upon him now, Bobby doesn’t have much leisure time but when he does (after May 15th) he will be relaxing by listening to electronic dance music and hanging with his little Shih Tzu dog named Mooshi. He’d take in a public session of ice skating and then head out for dinner and eat his favorite meal of teriyaki chicken over rice and finish up with a dessert - a bowl green tea ice cream.

We asked Bobby what likes about working at Wildfire and his reply, “Everything…open door communication, fun environment and most of all Wildfire is a place where I can be myself.” And we love that you are who YOU are. Thanks Bobby and congratulations!


Introducing - Lisa Glauber
Coach of the Month - March 2015

Lisa Glauber was selected as Wildfire’s Coach of the Month for March 2015. Coach Lisa goes above and beyond each and every day as she is taking on more classes as the need arises. She is getting kids excited with their classes as she starts them off with energetic warm-ups. She is teaching technical gymnastics in a fun and safe environment and her students are learning and advancing levels. She connects with the kids at a very personal level because she has a daughter in the sport and can relate to the learning curves that go along with any sport. Lisa is proud to wear her “wildfire coach” shirt and we are proud to have her be one of our lead staff members.

Lisa grew up north of New York City during a time when club sports weren’t real popular but high school sports were. She jumped right in (literally head first) because you see along with being a softball player (2nd and 3rd base positions), running the hurdles, competing all around for the gymnastics team, Lisa took very quickly to diving as well. Her coach started teaching her in 6th grade. So by the time she reached high school she was a varsity athlete on three teams - No season was she idle - for in the fall she competed gymnastics (uneven bars was her favorite event), in the winter was competitive diving and in the spring she played softball. Some natural athletic talent and lots of hard work paid off for Lisa as she earned a sport on University of Buffalo’s diving team. She was a successful NCAA diver and continued diving after college in the Masters Dive program. Lisa said the reverse 2 1/2 was her favorite dive to compete.

Lisa met her husband Carl in college. He too was a diver. They have three children, Jessica who will graduate in May from her parents alma mater (U.of Buffalo) with a degree in biomedical engineering, son Kyle who attends Saddleback College and Sanya, a freshman at Mission Viejo High School and a Level 10 gymnast at Wildfire.

Coach Lisa loves being a mom, she loves going to the beach, loves mint chocolate ice cream and salmon and she loves carrying on the tradition with her kids of going to Broadway shows in NYC. She doesn’t like sitting idle which is why in addition to everything she already does, Lisa is starting her own personal fitness training program with the focus on interval and circuit training. Check out I*M*Power Fitness. Classes coming to Wildfire!

Lisa loves gymnastics and is thankful to be able to give back to Wildfire in a way her high school coaches gave to her - coaching positively, making all kids feel good about themselves, and helping them develop into confident young people as they head off into their teen years.

Congratulations Coach Lisa. We are happy to have you as our Coach of the month in Lake Forest!

Brittany Eliason - September 2014

Coach Brittany is being honored for her continued service to Wildfire. She has grown and matured over the past three years and continues to seek out ways to better herself as a coach and teacher. She has really grown into the job and we wanted to recognize her for that.
Brittany has always had a love for sports…which has included a few years of dancing, seven years of gymnastics, several years of swim team and water polo and one year of high school volleyball. She loves to be outdoors and her present forms of activity include hiking and dirt bike riding. Matter of fact, as I write this, Brittany is on a weekend get away in Utah to spend time hiking and re-energizing as she thinks about the future and what her ultimate schooling goals are. She presently attends Santiago Community College. She would love to spend at least one semester studying abroad.
Brittany started her gymnastics career at age three following in her sister’s footsteps. Her favorite event was floor exercise. She loved how the sport gave her the push and drive to better her skills. She liked that she learned to become an independent worker because “how good she was going to be as a gymnast” was up to her and how hard she would choose to work. The drive and dedication she learned working out each day was able to carried throughout high school and now into her college classes. Then one day at age 10 Brittany suffered a torn Achilles tendon and it was recommended she find another activity to replace gymnastics.
Brittany is very close to her family and enjoys the companionship of her older sister and brother and loves being “auntie” to niece, Autumn. She also has three big dogs at home, a German Shepherd, Australian Shepherd and a chocolate Lab. An interesting bit of info that not many people know about Brittany is that for several years, when she was little, she was in a singing group and her favorite food is sushi.
Her favorite memory as a gymnast at Wildfire was the inside slip and slide during summer camps. Presently what she cherishes about working at Wildfire is the fact that she has made many good friends among the co-workers she is with 5-6 days a week. The job has taught her to be good at thinking on her feet, planning impromptu activities when the lesson plan just isn’t going right, to be creative and think outside the box as well as finding the positive in each and every day no matter how hard of a day she is having. She knows the kids count on her to have a smile and good attitude - that positive attitude is why Coach Brittany is Wildfire’s Coach of the Month!

Mikayla Moore- June 2014

Wildfire Gymnastics would like to honor Coach Mikayla as the June “Coach of the Month.” Mikayla has been coaching at Wildfire for the past three years. During this time she has grown into a very popular preschool coach. She loves working with the kids at Wildfire because she says they are so creative – “they say and do the funniest things. “
Mikayla is a student at Irvine Valley College. Her plans are to transfer to a four-year university in fall 2015 to major in animal biology with an emphasis in behavioral sciences.
In recent months Mikayla has been one of our “go to” staff members for help with parent night out, annual sleepover, tumbling clinics, open gyms and whatever else she is needed for. She gives of herself in a quiet, humble way with a smile.

Mikayla’s hobbies include a love for reading. She has a second part time with Pyro Spectacular where she has been trained to set off fireworks. She will be doing several shows over the July 4th weekend.

Mikayla received formal gymnastics training as a child and competed a few years as a compulsory gymnast, but her love of the ice exceeded the fun of tumbling and she became a competitive figure skater for 14 years. Nine of those years she competed in the “singles” category and the last 5 she competed in synchronized figure skating where she competed each year at the national level and represented her club and the USA in international competitions in Hungary and Austria.
A little known fact about Mikayla, is that she is published in Saddleback College’s Literary Journal
Congratulations to Coach Mikayla for her successes in many aspects of her life.

Stephanie Bernardi- January 2014

Wildfire Gymnastics would like to honor Coach Stephanie as the January Coach of the Month. Stephanie began coaching at Wildfire in October 2012, but she certainly wasn’t new to gymnastics and the hard work and dedication the sport takes at the competitive level. She trained at Gold Medal Gymnastics in Tempe, Arizona and was coached by Amanda Borden, a member of the 1996 gold medal team known as the Magnificent Seven. Stephanie’s favorite events were bars and beam.

Stephanie was born and raised in Gilbert, Arizona. Her mom and dad are both elementary school teachers and she has an older sister who is currently in medical school. Stephanie chose to complete her college education at Chapman University and will graduate in May 2014. She is majoring in Integrated Studies with a minor in history with a short term goal of being a high school history teacher; and, in a few years, go on to pursue her Ph.D. and become a high school principal.

In her leisure time Stephanie loves writing, crafting, yoga and being outside. She is a vegetarian and she loves smoothies and makes one just about every day. Her favorite childhood memory is playing softball every summer and having her dad as a coach and almost once at every practice she and her best friend would get in trouble for turning cartwheels instead of catching fly balls.

Stephanie said she has loves being able to coach all ages and levels at Wildfire. What makes her the happiest is seeing her gymnasts gain confidence every time they master a new skill.

Stephanie was chosen coach of the month because she took it upon herself to help out the Gym Team program that lost a lead coach and team player in December. Stephanie is always ready and available to help where ever a staffing issue exists – be it for one day or an entire month. She gives of herself in a quiet humble way with a smile. That is how she conducts her classes as well. She steps in and makes a difference.
Congratulations Coach Stephanie. Wildfire appreciates you and thanks you for being a role model among your peers!

Cassie Wharton - Nov 2013

Wildfire Gymnastics would like to honor Coach Cassie as the November Coach of the Month. Cassie came to Wildfire in November 2012 and has given her heart and soul to the gym ever since. We quickly learned she was multi-talented and had many skills we could use on and off the gymnastics floor.

One of Cassie’s many skills is graphic design and she has been the backbone of the flyer department for many months now. Because of that talent, she will be heading off to school at SAC State in the new year. Sadly her last day will be Dec 20th. She is taking big sister, Coach Jamie, with her as well.

Cassie started dancing when she was 2 years old, but she had way too much energy for tutus and ballet shoes so mom enrolled her in a gymnastics class at age four. She was hooked and started competing at age 7 and remained in the sport until age 17. During those 13 years Cassie won multiple state championships titles on beam, floor, vault and all around.

Cassie began her college studies at Cal State Fullerton as a mechanical engineering major and since CSUF had dropped it women’s gymnastics program by then she stayed in touch with the sport as an assistant/student teacher for the gymnastics classes offered to the PE majors.

Cassie presently teaches preschool classes and girls academy classes at Wildfire but her real love lies within the Gym Team she coaches on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. She loves teaching these girls and watching their progress as they mature and grow in self-confidence. She also enjoyed the opportunity to choreograph floor and beam routines for them.

We are all sad to have to say goodbye to Cassie as she will be greatly missed for the person that she is - a very talented young lady with a heart of gold and organizational skills many of us dream about. We all wish Cassie much success as she pursues her goal of dual degrees in structural engineering and interior design. Disneyland too will also miss her footsteps, for as an annual pass holder, she has spent many Wednesdays (her day off work) with Mickey and friends at the Magic Kingdom…most often accompanied by Jamie, her older sister.

Paris Davis - Sept 2013

Wildfire Gymnastics would like to recognize Coach Paris as the Coach of the Month for September 2013. Paris was very instrumental with helping all summer with Wildfire’s camps. He arrived early to set the gym up and greet the early drop off kids each morning (and this year we had 9 weeks of summer camp up from 5 previously). Paris also has been a big help to Wildfire’s owner, Rick Watson, when it comes to repairs, beam recovers, cleaning and so much more. Paris is readily available with a smile and willingness to step right in and do what needs done to get the job completed. As Wildfire is planning to undergo a big remodel during the upcoming winter holidays, Paris is excited and ready to paint, lift, screw, drill, build, carry etc. to spruce up and modernize his home away from home. Coach Paris has been teaching at Wildfire since 2005 and doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.
Paris loves gymnastics, especially tumbling and trampoline – that is the area of the sport in which he competed for a club in Michigan in his early twenties. Paris represented Team USA on several occasions and likes to share the good feeling of reaching goals and challenging students to give that little bit more when they feel inside they want to quit.
Paris has a heart of gold when it comes to serving Wildfire. This summer he was hit by a car while riding his bike to work and when we was asked if he was okay – he promptly told the woman yes I just need to get my bike fixed and be on my way...bruised and banged up, Paris, the wounded warrior, showed up to work because he said teaching makes him happiest and without seeing the kids he’d be at home feeling sorry for himself. Just this month he changed a date night around because our make-up classes were short staffed.
“Coach Paris – thanks for helping us this summer and always. We know your heart and soul is here and we want you to know you are appreciated!”

Bobby Meyers - May 2013

Wildfire is happy to announce Bobby Meyers as the Coach of the Month for May 2013. Bobby joined Wildfire in November of 2011 and we are happy he chose to become part of the Wildfire family. Bobby coaches tumbling, boys and girls academy classes and boys junior flames classes. He has an infectious smile and his love of teaching kids shines through on a daily basis.
Bobby presently attends Cypress College and after a few years of taking classes he decided to switch his major to Chemical Engineering. He rediscovered his love of chemistry and physics and is re-energized to start fresh with core classes in this field. He also finds that a lot of gymnastics coaching is based around the physics of movement of the human body. “Coaching, having fun, and seeing theories in action – can’t be a job like this,” Bobby said.
Bobby was born in Alberta, Canada, but grew up in the Buena Park area. He has been involved in sports most of his life, primarily as a baseball player (left field All Star) and a triple jumper, long jumper and short distance sprinter on the Cypress high school track team. As a freshman in college, he tried out for the diving team and made it but had to get used to going into the water headfirst. Bobby grew up bouncing on his neighbor’s trampoline so he was used to landing on his feet. Bobby’s favorite dive is a Reverse 1½, but admits that there have been many scary moments in diving when he and the board got a little too close. Along the way he has had more than his share of splats and hitting the water pretty forcefully.
In talking to Bobby, I find that he just likes to be active both physically and mentally. Bobby is also very passionate about his hobby of juggling. Boredom one day turned into non-stop practice with three tennis balls. A few hours later he was juggling 5 balls. Always in pursuit of learning more, Bobby likes to attend juggling conventions to improve his self-taught techniques with balls, rings and clubs. In his leisure time, Bobby enjoys running and just kicking back and watching TV shows. “I like to stay busy but also enjoy total rest and relaxation.
An interesting fact about Bobby is that as a 10 year old his mom enrolled him in the Young Marines. He continued with the program until he was 18. He went through boot camp training as a recruit and advanced to Lance Corporal while learning about teamwork and respect. He went through weapons safety and survival training. The program definitely improved his self-confidence and leadership skills, which have helped him through high school and college.
Bobby said his job at Wildfire is the most fun job he has ever had because it doesn’t feel like work. “The kids are very entertaining. I have stories to share after almost every class. If I come to work a little down, the kids’ energy and enthusiasm for gymnastics is a great pick me up. They make me laugh. “
Congratulations Bobby. Wildfire is proud to honor you this month!

Kyle Gayner - March 2013

Wildfire is happy to honor Coach Kyle as our Coach of the Month for March 2013. Kyle has been a great asset to Wildfire since joining the staff in August 2012. Kyle’s passion for gymnastics and her love of kids makes gymnastics coaching a great fit for her. At Wildfire, she does any class we ask of her with more vim and vigor than the younger ones.
After a year of ballet, tap and acrobatics at Dorothy Jo’s Dance Studio on PCH in Corona Del Mar and a few attempts to try to be like Mary Poppins and fly, Kyle’s mom enrolled her in gymnastics through Corona Del Mar Parks and Recreation. Quickly she advanced through their levels and went on to be a member of the original SCATS Gymnastics Club in Long Beach. She has fond memories of vaulting by starting her run outside, then down the church hallway past the pews and landing on a mat in a Sunday school classroom. She also reminds us, in her day, the beams were not padded, the floor had no springs and girls beat the bar with their hips.
Kyle had much success with the sport even though one of her early coaches told her she’d be too tall and too heavy for gymnastics. She had fun proving him wrong as she went on to be an elite level gymnast and in 1972 was the first woman to connect two front aerials on the balance beam. She later became the 1975 USA gold medalist on beam. Kyle said she got so good on beam because all her other teammates didn’t like beam so she never had to share that piece of apparatus. Kyle has many fond memories of her time competing, especially being able to travel and compete throughout much of the United States and Europe representing the USA.
When her own competing days were over, Kyle turned to coaching and for many years headed up the program at Marlborough High School in Hancock Park and a YMCA in Los Angeles. She also ran her own mobile gymnastics business for 17 years and taught many preschool and school aged kids in private schools throughout L.A. and Orange counties.
An interesting fact about Kyle is that she and our program director, Nancy, roomed together in 1975 at a training camp in Miami. Nancy was from PA and Kyle from CA. It was quite a reunion when they saw each other after 37 years. And, FYI…Kyle is still as flexible as ever. And flexibility doesn’t just apply to back and legs, Kyle is flexible as a teacher - able to coach any age or any level. Coming to Wildfire each day makes her feel right at home. Speaking of home, she shares her home with a few pug dogs and 1 wiener dog…a true animal lover…and did we mention she has a pet snake too? Oh, and if you come to PNO she might make you a balloon hat or two. Congratulation Coach Kyle! You are APPRECIATED!

ANNA PINSON - January 2013

Introducing Anna Pinson, Wildfire’s Coach of the Month. What a remarkable young lady this coach is. Anna is a high school senior who has been coaching at Wildfire since the summer of 2012. Anna coaches in the preschool program and loves her Parent Tot and Embers classes. Anna has a special gift for working with the high-energy child.

Anna has born in San Diego and moved many times during her life thus far. She actually found moving to be fun and never had a hard time making friends. Anna liked seeing how different parts of the country lived. Boston was one of her favorite cities. She presently lives in Orange but looks forward to going to school somewhere in the northwest. She plans to attend Santiago Canyon College for a few years first as she decides what she wants to major in. Anna loves being creative and is considering perhaps graphic arts, something in music or possibly teaching. We think she’d make a great teacher – she has so much patience and natural love for children.

Anna has been involved in all kinds of sports. Like many, she started with gymnastics and got great sports foundation. As she grew taller, she moved on to soccer, cross country, and track. She loved anything that had to do with running. She played forward striker and lived for scoring, assisting, or blocking goals.

In Anna’s spare time she plays piano and she is more than just good I am told by her sister, Brittany who also coaches at Wildfire. She also uses her creative talents to draw and paint.

When asked what she likes about Wildfire, she replied, “I love the positive energy – from coach to student and from coach to coach. Everyone is helpful and supportive of each other from the heart – not just because they have to since we all work together. This is a very tight staff. I have made many new friends – young and old we all get along.” Then she added, “But what brings me back each day with a smile is hearing the kids say, ‘Coach Anna watch me!’ I give them a thumbs up – they make me smile!”

Anna is indeed an asset to Wildfire. Her classes are growing, kids love her and she is so willing to take whatever we throw at her. This young lady exemplifies one of my favorite phrases “Be a winner not a whiner”. Wildfire won when we hired Coach Anna!

JAMIE WHARTON - December 2012

Wildfire is happy to honor Coach Jamie as the December 2012 Coach of the Month.
Jamie was selected to be recognized because of her willingness in recent months to
go above and beyond her normal day-to-day job duties. Jamie has a true passion for
kids and gymnastics and if your child has had her as a coach you can attest to the
positive energy she gives to each child she coaches.

Jamie was born and raised in Auburn, CA – a city with a larger cattle population
than human population. At age 18 she moved to Mexico to work with her pastor
who was serving there. Jamie lived with a non-English speaking family and totally
immersed herself in the Mexican culture. After a year away from school she was
ready to begin college. She stayed local to home and supported herself during those
early college years by coaching kinder classes at Extreme Gymnastics, where her
younger sister, Cassie, trained. Later she was asked to coach pre-team and levels 4-
6 for Stellar Gymnastics.

In 2007, Jamie moved to Fullerton to complete her undergraduate work in history
at Cal State Fullerton. She received her BA in 2009. She worked in educational
activism throughout her undergraduate and graduate career. She is presently
working on her MA in public history. Her future goals are to work as an educational
activist and help bridge the gap between schools and their local historical

One interesting fact about Coach Jamie is that she is a Disney fanatic. She loves
visiting the park and finds it a fun place to unwind after school and work. Rumor has
it that she is prolonging her MA degree just so she can keep visiting the park – kind
of like Peter Pan – never growing up. Family and friends are important to Coach
Jamie and that is why she loves her job at Wildfire…everyone is friendly and caring.
The kids make her laugh with the cute things they say each week. Thanks Jamie for
the love you give back to Wildfire!

It is our pleasure at Wildfire to introduce Coach Tony as Wildfire’s Coach of the
Month for October 2012. Tony was selected this month because he is a coach we can
always count on. He comes to Wildfire each day with a positive attitude and gives
his classes 100%.

Tony is employed full-time by L.A. Fitness as an Internal Auditor. He started there in
2006, the same month/year he came to Wildfire. Tony was previously an instructor
for the Little Gym with the 3 and 4 year olds and a cheer coach for Beckman High
School. Here at Wildfire he splits his coaching time between girls’ academy classes
and our coed tumbling classes. He has been coaching since he was 18 years old and
doesn’t foresee ending anytime soon. He loves that he can work with adults during
the day and interact with the youth in the evenings. He says they keep him young.

TONY ORTIZ - October 2012

Tony was born in East Los Angeles and came to Tustin with his family when he was
8 years old. He still enjoys playing his clarinet, which he started playing in 4 th grade
and continued through high school and college in various bands. Other hobbies
of Tony’s include running, which he says is a great stress reliever, being a part of
a Thursday night CCG (coaches cooking group) and attending concerts and shows
when he can. Most recently he went to see IRIS (a Cirque du Soleil show) and took
his younger sister for her high school graduation to the Jennifer Lopez/Enrique
Iglesias concert.

Here at Wildfire, Tony’s classes are typically full, with waitlists. He helps with
Friday night make-ups and our bi-monthly Parent Night Out (PNO) program. One
of Tony’s highlights at Wildfire was when he recently presented a student her 9-
year anniversary trophy the same day she got her round off, back handspring, full
twisting layout on floor. Tony has coached this student for many of those years
and watching her progress to this point makes him feel like he really does make
a difference in students’ lives. Tony lives life with an attitude of gratitude and is a
genuinely caring individual. We are grateful he continues to coach at Wildfire and
he is happy to be here and watch the young people grow up, graduate high school
and come back to see him.

ERICA SCOTT - August 2012

Coach Erica was selected Coach of the Month for August as she was an integral part of
Wildfire’s fun summer camps and made herself available to sub and take on extra duties as
needed to help the gym through the summer months.

Erica is a junior at Chapman University where she is a communications major with an
emphasis in broadcast journalism. She hasn’t quite narrowed down her career goals, but
being behind the microphone and being in on the action, is something she has always
enjoyed. Erica said she is leaving all options open. Recently she took on an internship with
a sports agency and is looking forward to that but will miss coaching Thursday through
Saturdays due to the internship commitment.

Erica grew up on the east coach in a small town outside of New York City with three
older sisters. The city of Orange, CA reminded her of home, which played a big part in her
decision to move across the country to CA for college.

Erica participated in gymnastics through age 14 and said her favorite event in gymnastics
was floor exercise because it was just “fun!” Erica was a member of the gymnastics club, ISG
in Scarsdale, NY. Upon leaving the sport of gymnastics she immediately became a member
of her high school lacrosse team where she played midfielder. This past spring, Erica
helped Chapman University win their first NCAA Championship in women’s lacrosse. With
her own sports participation over she decided to turn her love of sports into coaching and
lucky for us she was one of our Craig’s list applicants. She has endless energy, which might
account for why she also loves long distance running. She averages 30 to 40 miles a week.
For leisure fun she loves to read, play the piano and hang with friends. She loves the CA
weather but thinks the pace of life is a bit slower than what she is accustomed to in New

Thank you to Coach Erica for a great summer and we look forward to having her on staff
for the remainder of her college years.


If you have noticed energy about the gym this summer, it could clearly be that your child
has been in one of Coach Kailee’s classes. Kailee radiates “fun.” Kailee makes every child
feel successful. Kailee lifts up the other staff with her contagious enthusiasm not just for
gymnastics, but also for life! For these reasons and many more (like subbing every class
she has even been asked to do), Wildfire honors Kailee Kartchner as our “Coach of the

Kailee Kartchner moved, from Utah, in with her brother, Coach Eric, this summer to find
a summer job and save money before she heads to the Brigham Young University in
Hawaii on a soccer scholarship. She thought maybe she’d get a few hours here and there
at Wildfire, never did she believe she’d be working classes every day of the week, be a part
of the summer camp staff and help with birthday parties, tumbling clinics, make-up and
other duties as assigned like creating bulletin boards and arts and crafts (she has become
very skilled in teaching lanyard making). Needless to say, Kailee will be missed when she
departs August 4th, but she’ll probably be ready to put on the cleats and sprint up and down
the soccer field. When I asked her what she loves about soccer she replied, “Sprinting past
the opponent and leaving them in the dust.” Kailee has played on a soccer team as long as
she can remember. She plays forward and gets a rush when there are 13 seconds left and
she scores a goal. “Now that is a real high,” she said. One of her highlights was a hat trick
made with all headers. She is one aggressive competitor on the field.

Kailee always had a place in her heart for gymnastics too. She took classes as a youngster
and loved it. She said gymnastics gave her the fundamental skills of body movement and
awareness, which she feels early on, gave her an edge over others on her soccer teams. She
watched her brother Eric compete for many years. Later he introduced her to coaching at
Barefoot Gymnastics in southern Utah.

Kailee has 5 siblings and hanging out with the younger ones is still special to her. She loves
to run and play with them. Family is and always will be important to Kailee. She plans to
major in psychology and would someday want to study massage therapy and own her own

Her mom’s spaghetti and meatballs tops her favorite foods list. Add in pizza and she is set
for the week. She has been skydiving. Bungee jumping is the next item on her bucket list to
hopefully get crossed off. For an evening activity she loves to go to musicals.

Wildfire wishes Kailee all the best. We hope she doesn’t fall in love with Hawaii and decides
to return next summer! GO BYU-HAWAII!!!

Jen Leuvano – May 2012

We are so excited to announce Coach Jen as our honoree. She is not only an
awesome all around staff member at Wildfire, she is a beautiful person inside and
out. What makes Jen stand out in our minds is that she is a constant. She can be
counted on to give 100% each and every day she teaches the children. The majority
of Jen’s classes are Embers and Junior Flames in the mornings but she does a great
job with her Saturday Academy and make-up classes as well.

Jen started coaching at Wildfire 10 years ago when the doors first opened. After
six years of coaching she took a couple years off but soon realized there was a void
in her life due to the absence of kids and gymnastics. She now knows she’d rather
work two almost full time jobs and be happy and tired than be void of her love of
children and her passion for the sport.

Jen was a competitive gymnast through age 13. She loved to compete especially
vault and floor. “Those events were pretty easy for me as I was more of a
powerhouse gymnast; and, I didn’t care for bars because I hated having sore hands
all the time.” After gymnastics Jen turned her talents to competitive dance where
she specialized in lyrical dance. Jen grew up in the La Habra Heights area and
now lives in Yorba Linda with her sister and niece and nephew. She cherishes the
opportunity to be an aunt and loves to spoil the kids ages 7 and 5.

Jen’s second and main job is a server at Lazy Dog Café in Orange where she has
been for 5 years. They advanced her to manager a few years ago but she missed
interacting with the customers so she asked to return to a server. If you eat there,
Jen would recommend any of the “wok” dishes. Two jobs and a devoted aunt
doesn’t give Jen much leisure time so when I asked what she would do with a free
hour I thought she’d say read a book quietly alone. No, not Jen…her response
was, “I’d want to hang out with my friends.” Jen truly loves all people and their
unique qualities.

Another thing Jen loves is singing and playing guitar. Recently she auditioned for X-
Factor in San Francisco where she san “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” Jen got started
singing in church as a young girl and still sings each Sunday with the worship band
at Christian Life Fellowship. I asked Jen to tell me something no one would know
about her and she said she has 7 pet goldfish (3 are fancy fish with fan tails) which
all started with winning one tiny fish at the OC Fair. Now she enjoys watching the
fish and learning more about them.

Jen loves Wildfire for the reason so many of the staff do – they love the sport and
they love your kids. “The staff are more than my co-workers,” Jen said, “they are a
deep support system for me. I look forward to our Thursday night cooking group
when Coach Lauren and Coach Tony and I try new recipes and just “hang out.” I can

Mikayla Moore - April 2012

At Wildfire, we love to share about our coaches. We think we have some of the best
staff around and this month we are saying “thank you” to Coach Mikayla for the
great job she has been doing teaching our Embers and Junior Flames classes.

Mikayla has been teaching at Wildfire for the past year. She read an ad we placed
last summer and it wasn’t until I interviewed her did I realize she had a sister on
our staff. Mikayla wanted to earn the job herself and not be given it just because she
knew someone. That speaks to the kind of individual Mikayla is…very hard working,
responsible, takes initiative, and puts others before herself. Mikayla takes pride
in her coaching and as she has grown in the position, I have watched her mature,
become much more outgoing and willing to stretch herself outside of her comfort
zone. Oh by the way, did I mention Coach Breanna is Mikayla’s older sister?

Mikalya, born and raised in Tustin, is a student at Irvine Valley College majoring in
Biology. Her career ambition is to study animal behavior, specifically that of wolves,
her favorite animal. She also has pet rats. Her preschool had them and she babysat
one years ago and has owned and cared for one or more ever since.

Mikayla participated in competitive gymnastics at a young age but when she
attended her sister’s birthday party at an ice rink, she was hooked. She packed
away leotards and handgrips for ice skates and a warm jacket. (She also likes
doing a sport different that her sister.) Mikayla competed in singles skating for 11
years and now is a member of the Ice-Kateers synchronized team, which practices
at Anaheim Ice Rink. She continues to get up very early most mornings to get in
practice time. This past winter her team placed 6th at the Mozart Cup in Austria and
4th at USA Nationals in Boston. She considers traveling a perk the sport offers her.

Not that a student and skater has much leisure time, but when she has a few
minutes to herself she enjoys reading. As for food favorites, spaghetti tops her list.
Mikayla really enjoys working with kids and seeing how excited they get when they
learn something new. She enjoys the professionalism of the program and how she
and her colleagues are always able to share new teaching techniques and ideas.
Thanks Mikayla for your spirit and lighting the flame within so many preschoolers.

Alyssa Wright – March 2012

It is our pleasure at Wildfire to introduce Coach Alyssa as Wildfire’s Coach of the
Month for March 2012. Alyssa was selected this month because she has gone above
and beyond in many categories especially when it comes to subbing for her co-
workers. Alyssa stepped up to the plate and made everyone’s job easier for finding
subs sometimes is a very daunting task as most of the staff at Wildfire coach every
day they are available. Alyssa coaches all ages and levels so for us this month she
was the top All Around winner!

Alyssa came to Wildfire in the spring of 2011 after participating in competitive
gymnastics since the age of 7. She says she loved the “vault” event because she liked
to run hard and fly high. She competed through Level 10 at American Gymnastics
Academy in Long Beach, where she lives. Unfortunately, she had a career ending
injury to her knee in 11th grade. Alyssa found the positive in it all and turned her
gymnastics skills into competitive cheer and was able to remain active. Alyssa
attends Cal State Long Beach where she is an anthropology/forensic science major.

Alyssa has a younger brother and sister of which the latter also did competitive
gymnastics. She says her family got the gym bug early on and she knows it will stay
with her for life. She enjoys going to watch competitions and receives a lot of joy
and satisfaction using her personal knowledge and experiences to coach at Wildfire
where she says she has learned so much about kids and they make her laugh each
and every day.

A few interesting tidbits about Alyssa are: she is a Harry Potter fanatic, she loves
popcorn, her family visits Puerto Rico every other year (her mom was born there),
and she is a vegetarian. Alyssa enjoys her experiences here at Wildfire saying
that the staff is very supportive of each other and the gym definitely has a positive
atmosphere where the staff, athletes and students all seem like family.

Congratulations Alyssa…we are happy to call you our Coach of the Month and happy
to have you sharing your love of the sport here with all of us at Wildfire Gymnastics!

Elena Callihan, January 2012

Wildfire is pleased to announce Elena Callihan as our Coach of the Month for
January 2012. Elena has been coaching at Wildfire since March 2010 shortly after
her daughter began classes in our Embers program.

Elena was born in Bucharest, Romania, began gymnastics there at age 4 and became
a part of their national team from age 11-14 at which time she left gymnastics to
train and tour with their national circus. Although Elena had a fear of heights and
was skilled in many of the circus performance stunts her favorites were the Trapeze,
Russian Balance Bar and Spring Board. Her favorite skill was being launched from
the springboard to complete a double back flip and land on the Russian balance bar.
She toured all across Romania and throughout Japan and Italy.

Elena met her American born, husband, Mark, on line on the computer. He flew to
Romania where they were married and in 2006 they traveled to the United States
and settled in the Tustin area. Elena had always loved gymnastics and knew how
good the sport was for young children so she enrolled her daughter in classes and
the rest is history. We learned of her vast gymnastics knowledge and wanted her
to be a part of our staff right away. She was a bit hesitant and shy due to what she
considers her greatest challenge yet, the English language. But the students at
Wildfire quickly adapted and teaching 6 days a week has greatly improved Elena’s
communication skills. Although her own gymnastics training in Romania was very
strict and harsh, Elena is positive and encouraging. She is very technical with her
instructions and expects a lot from the students; and, in return they progress and
meet individual goals.

Elena loves being a mom to Noah, age 6 and Abby age 4. She is involved with their
schooling and finds that also helps her immersion into the American culture. When
she came to the U. S. for the first time she couldn’t wait to see American football and
a professional baseball game.

Elena has lots of talents and when I asked her about one that few people knew of,
she said she is a good sewer. While in the circus, she had to hand sew all of her
costumes and add all the beading and jewels. She said, “I learned through sewing to
be a very patient person.” Elena also works full time at Ralphs in Tustin. She doesn’t
have much idle time and if she could have a wish granted, it would be to have a few
hours to herself and every now and then, go to a movie. She loves Italian food, and
can speak and read Japanese. She misses home and her older sister and parents. She
is very thankful for computers as her family has not yet met daughter Abby except
through Skype. We love Coach Elena and hope she considers Wildfire Gymnastics
her second home!