Cindy Kuntz has been the head and the heart of the Rugby Gymnastics program for nineteen years. Kuntz won't tell you that, but others who know her will. She tends to spread the credit around to all who volunteer in the program.
"I know she has done a great job and spent oodles of hours with it," said Paola Trottier. "Her entire family has put in lots of time; practicing, hauling equipment, and promoting it."
The program could not run without volunteer and parental support, according to Kuntz. The coaches are paid for their time in the gym, but everything else is volunteer time.
"It takes a lot of people to run a program our size," said Kuntz. "We get support from the Eagles, Community Chest and we do fundraisers to keep the program running. Volunteers are very important to our program."
Kuntz, a Rugby High School alumna has always enjoyed watching gymnastics. She started volunteering where needed when her two children were little. She's been on the board, taught the younger groups and coached the advanced levels as her kids joined and grew up with the program. Her daughter Tara, 21, and son, Eric, a senior at RHS, help with the program. Tara attends college at Minot State University, but helps when she is home. Cindy's husband, Mark, has always helped, as well. Cindy has worked as office manager at Johnson's Plumbing Service for twenty years.
"Stacy Friestad and I both coached our own children," said Kuntz. "It is really great to be able to spend time doing something you love and also get to spend time with your children. You get to see their struggles and you get to be there when they learn something new."
"Almost all of the coaches in our program have kids in the program," explained Kuntz. "We all start out volunteering and working with our own kids."
The coaching staff consists of Stacy Friestad, Lori Miron, Eric Kuntz, Jeaneen Boucher, Tami Mayer, Kurt Weaver (Devils Lake), Kalia Borgen, Grace Solberg and Tara Kuntz. When Cindy Kuntz first started, she, along with Jodi Brossart and Terry Grove taught the younger kids.
In fact, the Rugby gymnastics program consists of volunteers who help in all aspects of the operation. The program is a recreational one, open to all kids ages 3-high school. The main purpose of the program is to keep the kids active and improve on their coordination for other sports they may participate in later in high school. They run separate classes for girls and boys until they reach the advanced classes. In the last few years the numbers have increased.They ended this year with 40 boys and 120 girls in the program.
Parents are responsible to get the kids to all performances. The gymnastics program is truly a family activity.
"The Eagles and Farmers Union helped us purchase a trailer to transport our equipment," said Kuntz. "Mike Miron has volunteered to pull the trailer for the past two years. This has been very helpful."
Like any skill, in the gymnastics program, participants must practice, practice, practice. The gymnastics program's Tiny Tots are 45- minute- classes. All other groups with the exception of the show team, practice for one hour a week. The Rugby Gymnastic Show Team practices for 1 1/2 hours. The classes run on Mondays and Wednesdays from September to March in two sessions. Classes take place in the upstairs of the Memorial Hall.
"Rugby has developed so many good gymnasts on the show team over the years, I couldn't even name them all," said Kuntz.
All of the kids shine in the Annual Spring Gymnastics Show held in March each year. The volunteers move all of the equipment to the high school gym for the show. It is a two-hour performance and each group performs.
"Lori Miron came up with the idea of having a theme for each group and it's just fun to see the smile on their faces when they are out on the floor performing," said Kuntz.
After 19 years with the program, Cindy still gets a lot of joy from the kids.