Gymnastics coach pick of the Bay

By Anendra Singh

No grumbles about how daylight saving robbed her of an hour of sleep yesterday morning.

Jane Sheldrake was at the Omni Gymnastics Centre in Napier for her classes a few winks after winning the Wattie's Volunteer Coach of the Year title on Saturday night.

Asked how many hours she spends coaching children from the age of 2 up to adults each week, the 64-year-old retired schoolteacher replied, "Oh, I hate to think."

Sheldrake won the award at the HB Cricket Association Pavilion, Nelson Park, over nine other finalists - Fiona Teddy (Napier Old Boys' Marist, rugby), Joy Kitto (Central Gym Club, gymnastics), Judy Hill (Swim Gym, swimming), Megan Adams (Frimley School, canoe polo), Rebecca Patterson (Central Sports Netball Club), Jeanette Oliver (Waipawa United Netball Club & Central Sports Netball Club), John Malcolm (Hastings Girls' High School, clay target shooting), Tania Agnew (Buckingham Guards, marching) and Terry Huffam (Hastings Rovers, soccer).

She and the other finalists were treated to a game of ITM Cup rugby across the road from the pavilion soon after the ceremony.

Sheldrake retired from Port Ahuriri School in 2002 to boost the hours spent at the Omni centre, where she started coaching in 1976 after flirting with sport as a pupil at Napier Intermediate and Solway College in Masterton.

"It's a wonderful recognition of work over the years," she said of the annual award Sport Hawke's Bay presents to volunteer coaches in the region.

"I've put an enormous amount of work in and there was support, especially from my family, to allow me the time to do that."

The Omni centre has 420 club members with a team of 22 volunteer coaches. Sheldrake is also a New Zealand judge, a commitment she will fufil during the national championship in Blenheim from tomorrow.

A minority code in this country, Sheldrake says she opted for gynmastics as it's "the most important sport of all fitness for other sports".

Sheldrake said most major codes often had elite athletes who had gymnastics as a foundation for development.

"They are also putting their children through it now," she said, adding it offered people balance, flexibility, strength, courage and excitement.

The last high-flying gymnast from the Bay was Renee Baarspul, who missed out on a Commonwealth Games stint after picking up an injury during the trials.

She also played for the Hawke's Bay Tuis rugby team and now works for the Napier Aquatic Centre.

Two other gymnasts from the Bay have travelled to trials in Auckland with Games and Pacific Alliance ambitions.

Sheldrake lauded the gymnastics community for making her job enjoyable.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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