Q + A With Katie Dunn

Q + A With Katie Dunn

We were thrilled to welcome Katie to the team as Program Manager and Head Coach of Artemis Gymnastics in January 2019. Hailing from Sydney, Katie brought with her over 18 years of coaching experience in gymnastics, trampolining, and tumbling, as well as an incredible resume of international judging expertise. Her passion and dedication to her sport – as an athlete, coach, and administrator – speaks for itself, and we’ve seen this come to life on a daily basis with the young children and athletes in her care.

18 months down the track… and moving into the recovery phase of the COVID-19 pandemic… I thought I would take the time to chat with Katie to learn a bit more about her sporting and coaching journey and her love for gymnastics and trampolining.

What do you love about gymnastics?

It is a really fun sport to do, and there are endless possibilities to how we can do it. I love the creativity that comes out of it – often the training videos are more exciting than competition! Being able to flip your body in any way you dream up is a very cool ability.

Tell us about your gymnastics journey? Where did you learn, and how did this progress to trampolining? Do you have any favourite moments or stories to share from your training or competitive experiences?

I did gymnastics as a kid and hated it, so stopped. ‘Stickability’ in any activity was not my thing. Inspired by some friends and watching Australian trampolinist Jai Wallace win a silver medal at the 2000 Olympics, I begged my parents to let me try trampoline at age 12. They made me research clubs, ring up, and enrol myself in class at the local RSL. Training was friendly and fun, with plenty to learn.  I did add gymnastics back into the mix later, but trampoline was my main sport for 11 years, and 20 years later I am still involved, much to my parent’s surprise!

How did your coaching career begin?

Through a moment of compassion! It was a busy afternoon in the gym, and I was training. I looked over to the busy recreational classes, and sympathetically said to one of my gymnastics coaches, “You guys look like you need help. I’d love to help!” He walked me straight to the Gymnastics Coordinator and she got me started as a junior coach coaching recreational gymnastics.  I started coaching trampoline a term later.

Why do you coach?

So many reasons! It’s fun, creative and exciting, and there is such a rich reward to perseverance and continual hard work. I absolutely love seeing athletes exceed their own expectations. Pushing yourself in the hope of achieving something that you’re not quite convinced you will be able to do – even if it does take months or years to get there. As a coach I especially love the problem-solving side – how can we best teach that athlete? Which drills do they need? What skills suit them?  Do I tell them upfront they’re learning X skill, or discreetly put those drills into training?

Do you have a coaching philosophy?

Coaching is a partnership, and I will work as hard as the athlete is willing to work. I also value longevity and want my athletes to enjoy and stay training! That reduces the pressure to get x skill by x age, or in x timeframe, or the importance of a single competition. 

What kind of environment do you aim to create in your classes?

A productive and efficient one. I want to make the most of every minute and for the athletes to be focused on their task and understand why they are doing it. Learn skills well, master them, and we can do amazing things with them!

What has been your proudest achievement to date as a coach?

Tough question! The first time my athletes won a National title and were selected to Australian teams in trampoline is always a pleasant memory.

How have you been spending your time during COVID-19? Any new skills or hobbies?

I am thankful that MGGS kept our team engaged and we have been busy! Plenty of planning to improve the Club, as well as working on a coach development program to boost the skills, knowledge and coaching process of our current – and future – coaches. We also launched an online gymnastics program which extended further than simply online training sessions, including a range of skill factsheet, video tutorials, inspirational stories from gymnastic greats, learning how to judge, and some at-home fun and challenges.

As our Return to Sport nears, we are focusing on athlete health and safety, making sure our plans are practical and appropriate, preparing class content, personal development activities and a small gym spruce-up!

Outside of work, I upped the exercise levels to keep myself sane and added ballet and strength work back into the mix.  I’ve also been sewing two coats to help keep me warm this winter!

What’s next?

I am itching to get back into the gym and start training! I have skill goals in mind for every one of our athletes, learners and participants, and want to make sure gymnastics is a positive and FUN part of their day! Although training won’t look the same with social distancing changing the structure of class – 1 person per station instead of groups of 3, and limited hands-on coaching – I think our athletes will become more independent, and as coaches, we will become more patient and creative with the learning process.  Both are wins in my mind!

 

… AND FOR SOME RAPID FIRE QUESTIONS…

If you could be any animal, what animal would you be, and why?

A Bolivian squirrel monkey. They are daredevils and fearless.

What is an interesting fact about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone? 

I’m an excellent cook and I almost became a patisserie chef.

What is your favourite season?

Spring!

Favourite AFL team?

Controversially, I don’t follow AFL.

Favourite sports to watch (aside from gymnastics)?

Athletics and diving

 

Artemis Gymnastics

Author

Sally Bailey, Executive Director, Artemis Programs