Sydney Cassels runs up from her starting mark on the floor and launches off the springboard into a front flip, softly landing feet first in a new sea of blue foam.
The 11-year-old member of the North Valley Gymnastics Society is grinning as she emerges from the blueness and pulls herself out, ready for another crack at the club’s new foam pit, finally filled with blue foam after a successful, nearly two-year fundraising campaign.
“It’s really fun,” said Cassels, a club member for five years. “Sometimes, now, you’re not afraid to land. It will help get me a lot further in the sport.”
The society started a Fill The Foam Pit fundraising campaign in January 2018, selling the foam blocks for $5 each.
“We asked the community, friends, and families to sponsor your gymnast and buy a foam block until we filled the pit,” said society board member Melissa Locke. “We fundraised hard until now for that.”
The club raised $21,500 which paid for the foam blocks and floor matting. Donations came from as far as Belgium.
Christening the pit was longtime club manager Kathy Stevens, who was with the society from the beginning before turning the reins over to current head coach Naomi Rokus. Stevens completed a successful forward flip into the pit.
“The pit allows the competitive kids to be able to practice their high-density skills with soft landings safely, and gives them the confidence to do their routines on the floor,” said Locke.
“The pit is an extremely vital safety element so the team can train at a competitive level, and it’s fun. Adult drop-ins are on Friday.”
With drop-in numbers, the North Valley Gymnastics Society hosts more than 600 gymnastics enthusiasts per week.
The club, which successfully renovated its new facility on 31st Street in 2018 and 2019, continues to fundraise for new equipment.
“We just wanted to say thank you to the whole community who got behind us and supported our facility and pit,” said Locke.
Competitions for the club gymnasts begin in November.