WASHINGTON STATE GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASTICS
The development of girls competitive high school programs was concentrated in three areas of the state at approximately the same time. One: Kennewick and Richland under Chuck Thuot and Rex Davis. Two: Spokane under Lyle Pugh at Shadle Park. Three: Seattle under Ev Woodward and Mary Sarver.
Chuck Thuot and Hubie Dunn (WSU) were gymnastics teammates at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. Hubie Dunn came to WSU in 1947. Thuot came to Kennewick High School the same year as an Industrial Arts teacher. Correspondence between the two indicated that Thuot wanted to start a tumbling program in 1952. A 1951 yearbook photo shows boys doing hand balancing and parallel bars; rings and trampoline in 1954; girls gymnastics in 1955 and a tumbling team.
Due to the lack of high school teams, the Kennewick gymnasts, in those early years, had only limited competition. For example, in nearby Wapato, Paul Hurd began a high school tumbling team. Records indicate that in March of 1956 all of these schools plus Sunnydale High School and Richland met in an unofficial meet where the competition was limited to trampoline and tumbling. Richland High School under the leadership of Rex Davis had their first girls' competition in 1960 and 1961.
Lyle Pugh attended WSU from 1946 to 1951 and was a member of Hubie Dunn's first men's gymnastic team. He began teaching at Shadle Park High School in 1958 and immediately started a tumbling and gymnastic program for boys and girls. Because there was no competition, he was limited to exhibition performance. Later, other area high schools developed teams and held competitions. His school shop made his balance beam and vaulting box. Floor exercise was performed on the wood floor and there was no padding on the beams and a wood "beat" board was used in vaulting.
Shadle Park's first competition was in 1961-'62 at the Inland Empire Meet. They won second place with competition in the following events; tumbling, fx, beam, uneven bars, vaulting and trampoline. In 1963-'64, they attended the British Columbia Championships and The Inland Empire Meet. In 1964-'65 they attended the Washington State Invitational State Meet. There were no team scores, just individual scores. The State Invitational Meet in 1968-'69 was the first year for team and individual scores. In 1969-'70 they won first place in the invitational state meet as a team. Lyle retired from coaching girls gymnastics in 1983 and was inducted into the inaugural WSGCA (Washington Coaches Association ) Hall of Fame in 1986.
Records show that there were several schools that were sponsoring gymnastic groups by 1955-'56 probably mostly boys but there was a group at Highline High School that also included girls in tumbling and apparatus. Ev Woodward was the coach and Mary Sarver, who coached at a near-by junior high school, also joined in those workouts. Mary Sarver had spent the year before at a gymnastic folk high school in Denmark. He was pleased to meet Ev Woodward as well as George Lewis at the Seattle YMCA. She gained help from both of these mentors. In the fall of 1958, Mary moved to Highline High School to work further with this program but that fall Ev Woodward moved to Seattle University where he taught and started a gymnastic program. Bob Sarver, a recent UW education graduate, came to Highline that same year. Bob had done his student teaching under Al Armstrong (Coach Mike Armstrong's dad) at Renton, was a former YMCA coach and teacher, and also taught at the first Gym Kamp.
Bob took over the Highline boys' program, which down through the years proved to be the powerhouse by winning seven state meets. Meanwhile Mary took on the girls' program. With the help of George Lewis, the Highline Girls Gymnastic Team, with 17 members, drove to Canada to enter a meet sponsored by the AAU. The school bought the team leotards and paid for the trip including housing and food. Another trip was to Cheney, Washington. (Perhaps the Inland Empire Meet.)
Because of the influence of traveling exhibition teams from WSU, schools on the west side, such as Everett High, started tumbling teams in the early 1950's. Birrell Dinnetz, Everett High School, coached the new varsity sport of boys gymnastics in 1960,and transferred over to the new Cascade High School in 1962. She was instrumental in girls gymnastics in the Everett area and was inducted into the UW Hall of Fame in 1992 and the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 1994.
There were many workshops, mainly held at the Seattle YMCA and Gym Kamp with many talented teachers coming to share and learn. Dale McClements and Mary Sarver were scheduled to put on a workshop at The University of Oregon but they ran into the Columbus Day Storm in 1962 - they couldn't get through Portland.
Mary Sarver worked with Dort MacLain at the University of Washington and wrote an article for the first Division of Girls and Women's Sports Guide for girls concerning gymnastics. Also she worked with Eric Hughes and wrote a chapter in his book Gymnastics For Girls. She was also a participant at the first Gymnastics Conference in Norman, Oklahoma. Mary judged in the 1962 Nationals. She left Highline High School in 1961 and then taught part time at Highline Community College for 20 years and taught gymnastics and dance there. She came back to coach with Bob Sarver at the high school from 1972-'83. Later she became a co-director of Gym Kamp for many years. Mary was inducted into the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 1998 and the USAGWA Hall of Fame in 2002.) (Mary died in Jan. 2004.)
Photo at left: 1969 Bellevue HS Seniors: Laurel Bliss, Dana Hoelting, Priscilla Taylor (Hickey), and Hisako Habara
The outstanding club gymnast at that time was Dale McClements.
Other coaches at this time were D.A. Outs, Sammamish; Judy Vedderat, Bellevue; and Melra Bohen, Bothel. Melra coached at Bothel High School in the 1960's. She was the High School Association president in 1967, and was inducted into the WSGCA Gymnastics Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986. (Melra got Donna Lucero into judging in the early 1970's.); Maggie Trimble, 1948 UW grad , went to Auburn High in 1952. She had tumbling for girls and coached Brad Loan 1967-68. (There was no boys gymnastics program at Auburn High.) Maggie attended Gym Kamp, early Play Day meets, and she also judged. She was the High School Association president in 1968 and was inducted into the inaugural WSGCA Gymnastics Coaches Hall of Fame in 1986. (Side note: she was noted by Mary Sarver as being loud and a tomboy - "quite a character".)
Janet Johnson Peterson taught and coached at Kent-Meridian HS in 1957. She went to the "Y" with George Lewis, and learned judging with Sam McClements. She competed in tumbling for eight years.
Judy Vedder Thompson graduated from Roosevelt HS. She was in the tumbling program and had graduated from UW in 1960. She taught at Bellevue HS from 1961-64. She coached at Kentwood High and also worked with George Lewis.
Judy Robare began coaching in gymnastics at Lincoln HS in Seattle in 1968. She also coached at Ballard until retirement. (1969-'93) Judy was inducted into the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 2000.
Jerry Penney was a men's assistant coach at WSU for Head Coach Bob Peavy in 1969 and 1970. He also competed there and created a move on the Parallel Bars called the Penney German Uprise. Jerry ran the "Christmas Clinic" at Sammamish High School in the 1970's. Some of the women's gymnastics coaches at this clinic were Dale Shirley, head coach of the Academy of Olympic Gymnastics, and coach of the UW Women's team; George Lewis, head coach of Gymnastics Incorporated; Carolyn "Ping" Holmes, Assistant Coach at Gymnastics Incorporated and former national champion; Laurel Anderson Tindal head coach at SPU. Jerry was the head coach at Sammamish for many years, and was coach of the year in 1986 and was inducted into the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 2001 and the USAGWA Hall of Fame in 2011.
Pat Hatmaker was a big part of the Seattle area gymnastics picture in the 1970's -1990's. Pat taught at Issaquah HS beginning in 1963 and was the head coach of gymnastics starting in 1975 and head coach at Issaquah Junior High for 15 years. Her teams competed at State Gymnastics Championships seven times with individual competitors nearly every year. Pat worked in the development of judging in girls' gymnastics, and was a founding member of the Northwest Gymnastic Judging Association. She coached the girls' team at Issaquah High for 35 years. Pat was named the High School Coach of the year in 1995 and was inducted into the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 1998. Inducted in the first USAGWA Hall of Fame 2002. Very funny lady. Pat died in 1999.
Pat Guttormsen was instrumental in establishing girl's high school gymnastics in southwest Washington. Pat was a Brevet rated judge who encouraged women to become judges including Barb Graisy. Don Freeman was involved with boy's gymnastics and then he coached girls.
KITSAP AND OLYMPIC PENINSULAS
High School gymnastics teams were established on the Olympic Peninsula during the late 1970's. The Olympic League High Schools including Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Central Kitsap, North Kitsap, Olympic, Port Angeles and South Kitsap. Bremerton had a boys team until the mid-eighties. South Kitsap dropped their girls program in the mid-1980's when they transferred to the Narrows League. By the late 1980's, the programs at Bremerton, Central Kitsap and Olympic were eliminated leaving Brainbridge Island, which currently competes in the Metro League - as of 2012. with Capital and Olympia. The North Kitsap School District added a team at Kingston High School when that school opened. With the reorganization of classifications as of 2015, Port Angeles, North Kitsap, Kingston, Capital and a co-op North Thurston District team compete in the West Central District in the 3A-2A classification.
Jan Urfer, began coaching in high school and junior high in 1978. She was the assistant coach at Port Angeles High School from 1979-1991. She became the head coach in 1991. P.A. has won consecutive Olympic League Championships from 1978-1987 and 1989-2000, and qualified to the State Championships 5 times. She was the Director of Clalllam County Family YMCA Recreational Gymnastics program. (1979-1991/1994-2001.) President of WA. State High School Gymnastics Coaches Association from 1990-1994. She has been a Board Member since 1984. NCFICA Region 8 Coach of the Year 1998. Jan was inducted into the 2001 WSGCA Hall of Fame. She retired from high school coaching in 2005 and retired from teaching in 2007. Jan currently (2015) is a USA Gymnastics National judge, the Executive Director of Klahhane Gymnastics a non-profit gymnastics club in Port Angeles, and serves as the Xcel Representative on the USA Gym WA State Committee.
Sehome High School from Bellingham holds (as of 2012) the most girls' state championships - in the nation! Starting in 1973, they won first a total of 24 times with most of those coming under the leadership of coach Nola Ayres. Sehome also holds the record for most consecutive state championships with 13 wins. Nola was one of the most prolific coaches in the nation. Sehome had a 402-8 record until the year 2000, the year Nola retired. Nola went on to get her doctorate in Sports Psychology and is also a National USAG judge and became the NAWGJ (National Association Of Gymnastics Judges) Washington State Judging Director from 2000 until 2012. She was inducted into the 1999 WSGCA Hall of Fame, the USA Gymnastics WA Hall of Fame in 2006 and the WIAA Hall of Fame in 2006.
HIGH SCHOOL STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
On the State Level, Auburn High hosted the first meet in 1966. Besides the floor ex., beam, bars and vault events, trampoline and tumbling were included. The first two meets in 1966 and 1967 were invitational meets, and no team scores were kept. They were, however, in 1968 when Ingelmoor High became the first state champs under Karen Patoile Wisen who coached there from 1968 to 1976. She had three State Championships. The 1970 meet was held at Shoreline High. (Shadle Park won.) Karen became a Brevet judge and was inducted into the WSGCA Hall of Fame in 1998 and the USAGWA Hall of Fame in 2004; USGF/USAG Regional Technical Director 1971-1979 and 1986-1994; Goodwill Games, Seattle, 1990 Technical Director and a Charter Member of NAWGJ.
In the late 60's and early 70's, the state meet was a two-day affair with compulsories on the first day, and optionals on the second. About 300 athletes competed. The compulsories were eliminated in the late 1970's. Ingelmoor came back in 1970 and 1971 to win the championships. Sehome, under Nola Ayres, took 2nd in 1971, traveled to Green River Community College in 1972 to win the first of many state titles. In 1973, WIAA took over the State Championships. They held the first "official" state meet at Bellevue Community College. Sehome won that meet, which was their second state title, but first OFFICIAL State Championship.
Tumbling and Trampoline were dropped in the early 1970's. Doing so drastically cut the number of gymnastics participants in the state.
Port Angeles hosted the 1988 State Meet. Sammamish High held it again in 1989. In 1990, the State Meet was moved to the Tacoma Dome. In 1992 the first day of preliminaries was held at Sammamish high and the finals at the Tacoma Dome. In 1993, both days were held at the Dome where it has been ever since.
Kay Canedy, a high school Judge and past State Judging Director, died in 1987, and a special presentation was made in her honor at the state meet that year.
In the last 30 years, only two gymnasts have laid claim to winning all four events and the all-around. Taunia Rogers of Inglemoor did so in 1982. (She almost succeeded in doing so in 1981. She won every event except the unevens.) Taunia ended her high school career with seven titles. In the 3A division, Katie Dinsmore of Lakeside (Spokane) won all events in 2002. Katie did win 3A state vault three times, but not in a row. The dates were 1999, 2001 and 2002. Katie ended with eight state titles.
Bridgett Finkbonner, Sehome, scored the first perfect 10.0 in Washington State High School Championships in floor in 1999. It was by far one of the most flawless and beautiful routines seen at state. The acrobatics soared, and the dance was expressive. Bridgett used the music from the movie, "Last of the Mohicans." She also won two events and also all-around.
The only gymnast to win the state all-around title three years in a row was Catherine Williams of Puyullup 1990, '91, '92.
Tamara Diles, 3A, Newport, won vault and floor ex. three years in a row, 1999, 2000, and '01. Tamara was also exceptional in track and field, and broke the state record in girl's pole vault in 2001 and went on to compete for WSU in track.
Another of our high school judges, the "Smiley Judge", Corrine Olson, died suddenly at age 43 in 2013 and was honored at the 2014 State Meet. Read more about our WA high school judges on the Judges page.
Read more results including Event winners on the Girls High School Champions page.
WSGCA COACHES HALL OF FAME
WOA (WA Officials Assoc) HALL OF FAME
Donna Lucero, 2010.
Washington State Gymnastics Coaching Association Hall of Fame - Judges Inductee
Marge Eilers, 2011
COACHING ASSOCIATION PRESIDENTS
GIRL'S STATE TEAM CHAMPS
1999 was the first year that gymnastics is divided into 4A and 3A/2A divisions at state.
COACH OF THE YEAR
ASSISTANT COACH OF THE YEAR
JUDGE OF THE YEAR
HIGH SCHOOL TECHNICAL DIRECTORS
Washington Judges who have judged the National High School Meet
Read more about our Washington State High School Judges - click here
Over the years, there have been two organizations, the NHSGCA and now the NHSGA.
THE SEATTLE TIMES TOP HIGH SCHOOL GYMNASTS OF THE CENTURY (1900'S)
Linda Fisher: Sehome 1976
Kris Fleming: Bothel 1978
Taunia Rogers: Inglemoor 1982
Catherine Williams: Puyallup 1992
Kerri McKay: Sehome 1993
Farrah Fabien: Newport 1995
Celeste Montalvo: Sehome 1998
Bridgett Finkbonner: Sehome 1999
FIRST WIAA HALL OF FAME CLASS
"The WIAA Hall of Fame is designed to honor individuals and or teams/programs that have made contributions or accomplishments to high school sports and activities that deserve statewide and historical recognition." The first WIAA Hall of Fame induction ceremony tool place on April 21, 2004 at the Seahawk Stadium Club Restaurant.
Sehome High School Gymnastics
"Sehome won its first state title in 1973 and continued with 13 straight state championship seasons. The Sehome gymnastic program suffered its first state competition loss in 1986, but in 1987 they began another winning streak. From 1987 to 1993, the Sehome gymnastic program won seven consecutive state championships, a mark that is the sixth best streak within the national high school records. After 1993, the Sehome girls gymnastic program won four more state championships bringing the total to twenty-three. The gymnasts at Sehome have won a total of thirty-two individual state championships in the following events: three vault, eight uneven bar, four balance beam, ten floor exercise, and seven individual All-Around titles. The Sehome teams under Nola Ayres, coach for 25 years, compiled a 384-1 dual meet record and the Mariners, at one point in history, had an overall record of 402-8." (From the 2004 WIAA State Gymnastics Championship Program.)
In 2006, Coach Nola Ayres was inducted into the WIAA Hall of Fame.