Jess Mavridis, 23, is a shining example of the power of her sport, coming full circle with the Y, with almost 20 years as a student, competitive gymnast, mentee, coach and now Gymnastics Coordinator at the Y Bankstown.
From her first day on the mat in Kindergarten, Jess was hooked, training, competing and eventually winning vault champion at Nationals when she was 12.
“The AIS stadium in Canberra was by far the biggest we’d ever competed in and I didn’t even realise I’d won … to see my name at the top against everyone in the state was an amazing feeling,” she said.
In the years that followed - whether she won or lost - the thrill of mastering a challenging skill cemented the place of the sport in her life forever.
“The most rewarding part about being a gymnast is showing that you can do the skills and showing all that hard work. It’s not like soccer or netball … those are great sports but in gymnastics you are progressing every single day, every month and every year from one skill to the next … it’s a never-ending cycle.
Jess has gained lifelong friends through gymnastics at the Y, creating a family unit who have grown up together into their 20s. When Jess was injured at 15, she was supported by the Y community and began the transition into coaching.
“I always wanted to be a coach … I really wanted to give that back to the community and give what my coaches gave me to other gymnasts. Through the mentor program I got to learn from one of the coaches and I really learnt a lot from her to become what I am today.”
As a teenager training 16 hours a week, Jess’s academic and social lives needed to be structured to fit in her training and later mentee program requirements.
“Having a structure to stick to really calmed my nerves. That’s what I teach my gymnasts now, school is number one and training is number two but this sport teaches you the skills to do all of that in one life.”
These same skills have allowed Jess to finish a university degree in Exercise Sport Science while working part-time as High Levels Coordinator at the Y, a personal trainer and swim coach. Now she has graduated, she has taken up a full-time role as Gymnastics Coordinator at Bankstown Y.
“At the Y our coaches put everything in, even though they’ve got fulltime jobs. They come here because they absolutely love it and coach even though they might be so tired … coaching just doesn’t even feel like a job.”
Jess’s past experiences in her students’ shoes have seen her become a role model for young gymnasts.
“Half of my group are doing the mentee program because they want to be like me as I wanted to be like my coach,” she said.
“I have been in their spot before. So it’s about passing it down and showing them that once you finish your career as a gymnast it’s not over, you go into the mentor program, become a coach… it’s a big cycle which is great for yourself, for others and the community.
“It’s really exciting to be part of the Y and I’ve been part of the Y for nearly 20 years. That’s something I’ll carry on for the rest of my life no matter where it takes me!”