The Quesnel Technics Gymnastics Club’s Christine Kline was honoured by Gymnastics B.C. as the top coach in Zone 8 on Friday (Nov. 15).
The third-year coach came to the club from Langley in 2016 and has become a key cog in the success machine the club has become.
Last year was a busy one for Kline, who was also competing at a high level, while coaching for the club.
“I had to figure out how to be a good teammate and a friend and cheer [the other athletes] on when they’re competing but then at the same time mentor them and coach them and be there for them emotionally,” she says.
“It was hard at first to switch my mind from coach to teammate and back, but the girls and I get along, so it’s great.”
Kline took a few coaching courses while with her old club down south, but it was not until she moved to Quesnel with her family that she took teaching the sport she loves seriously.
“I just jumped in and became part of the club, and people were super accepting,” she says. “I really like the smaller club atmosphere because everyone knows everyone.”
Club manager Elizabeth Floyd says Kline was eager to accept any challenge from the get go.
“We started her coaching recreational gymnastics, and she did great with that,” Floyd says, adding the role was no walk in the park.
“When you give a 17-year-old kinder-gym classes with parents [watching], it’s pretty intimidating but she’d do it and she was good at it and she’d always challenge herself.
“As she progressed, lots of things were out of her comfort zone, but we needed it to happen and she would take it upon herself and go, ‘OK, here I go, I’m jumping in,’ and it would always be a success.”
Over time, Kline expressed interest in coaching the competitive athletes, which requires a far deeper commitment.
“To coach competitive, you have to put a lot more in than you do as a recreational coach,” Floyd says, “but Christine was always putting everything she could into making every class she coached the best and never wavered from it, so when she joined the competitive coaching team, it carried over.”
Floyd says coaches have to take from their experience as athletes, but they must also attend many clinics and “watch thousands of hours of YouTube videos.”
What was most impressive to Floyd is the steep trajectory at which Kline is improving in a difficult field.
“For a coach to come into competitive and only have a year or two of experience and to be able to competently and successfully get these athletes to excel at a high level is rare,” she says. “What takes some coaches 10 years to gain in intricate knowledge of developing athletes to a high level, it took her one.”
For Kline, the gym is so much more than a place to hone skills.
“Growing up in the gym, it was always a second home to me, and the coaches and the athletes there were always my second family,” she says. “Whenever I was upset about something, I could go and blow some steam off at the gym, and everyone was super supportive.”
She cannot recommend the sport enough for young people.
“I think gymnastics is incredibly important for younger girls, as it teaches them so many life lessons that they can apply long term,” she says. “The skills they learn in the gym — like hard work, discipline, teamwork and how to get up when they fall — they can take outside anywhere with them.”
Floyd says the club’s future is bright with Kline on the team.
“I see Christine as an invaluable asset to our club,” she says. “As long as she’s here, I know that our competitive program will grow and our athletes will be incredibly successful both locally and province-wide.”