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Gymnastics Unlimited Co-Owner To Coach Special Olympics

Eichman Named Head Coach of Santa Clarita Sharks Gymnastics Squad

Gymnastics Unlimited co-owner Lisa Eichman has been named head coach of the Special Olympics Santa Clarita Valley gymnastics team, which has started practice in preparation for competitions to be held this spring and summer.

"This will be our second year hosting the training for Special Olympics, and we're so excited about working with this truly special group of athletes," said Eichman, who co-owns Gymnastics Unlimited with her husband, Craig. "We were honored to provide the training facility for the team last year, and this year I am even more honored to become the gymnastics coach for the team."

Wendy Lorton, regional sports manager for the local Special Olympics organization, welcomed Eichman aboard as coach and said the opportunity for the athletes to train at the state-of-the-art local gym is a valuable one for the special needs athletes.

"Special Olympics Santa Clarita Valley is looking forward to the 2010 Rhythmic Gymnastics season," Lorton said. "We are happy to have a partnership with Lisa and Craig Eichman and Gymnastics Unlimited. We know that our athletes will benefit from having the opportunity to train with Lisa Eichman and her coaching staff in a great facility like Gymnastics Unlimited."
The Santa Clarita Special Olympics team, called the Sharks, competes in a variety of sports, and approximately 15 Special Olympics athletes are expected to make up the gymnastics team. Gymnastics Unlimited will host a meet May 30 in which the Sharks and other Southland Special Olympics teams will compete to qualify for the Special Olympics state games this summer.

Special Olympics is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that provides year-

round sports training and competition in various Olympic-style sports for individuals with intellectual disabilities. The local organization has approximately 500 athletes of all ages enrolled in a variety of sports programs.

In addition to rhythmic gymnastics - in which participants move rhythmically and manipulate an apparatus, such as a rope, hoop or ball - last year's training at Gymnastics Unlimited saw the addition of artistic gymnastics events, such as the bars and vault.

"The kids loved doing that - they became tenacious competitors on artistic events," Eichman said, adding that this year's training will again incorporate both rhythmic and artistic disciplines.

She said the most rewarding thing about working with Special Olympics athletes is devleoping bonds with the participants, and watching them achieve feats that at first appear extremely challenging.

"We became close - we developed a lot of personal relationships," Eichman said. "Last year, one of the girls started out in a walker because she had been in a coma for awhile. By the end of the season, she was able to do a vault. She competed in all events for artistic gymnastics. To see at the end that she was able to do all of this was really cool."

Additional information about Special Olympics Southern California is available by visiting the organization's website, www.sosc.org.