Jewart’s Gymnastics started in a basement on Emerald Drive in Ingomar, in 1969. Actually, it didn’t have a name at that time, but it did have a purpose; to teach dancing lessons to the neighbor kids. There was a pre-school program and several classes for elementary school-age kids. The goal was to have a school that gave kids the best things that I had learned from 12 years of dancing lessons, four years as a Slippery Rock Gymnast, and three years of teaching physical education for the Los Angeles City School District. The standard was to be “the best,” meaning that it would be really fun, it would teach with the best technique, and it would be creative. The kids would “show off” their skills to get recognition. It was an unwritten mission statement that has lasted for 50 years.
It was 1972, the year that Olga Korbut dazzled the world with her innovative routines, that we expanded to the Dance/Gymnastics School under Adzema’s Pharmacy and that my brother Paul join me. Our enthusiasm about starting a gymnastics team and bringing something new to the community gave us excitement and a common goal. Our successes in competition whet our appetite to grow the business.
The “gym” under the pharmacy was 1400 square feet. It had brick pillars in the center of two rooms and 10 foot ceilings. We needed a bigger facility, so in 1976, we added a second location on Route #8 above Anderson’s Car Wash. We hired our brother, Nick and Allison Hoburg to team-teach with us. Mary Jayne Sirianni Terak was our next employee. In 1980, we built the 7000 square foot gym on Wildwood Rd. We were expecting the Olympic Games to give us a lot of publicity as it had in previous Olympic years, but the US boycotted the Moscow Games.
Fortunately, our new facility was a great drawing card and we weathered the boycott and the recession. In 1984, with the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, we added 4000 feet to the side of the gym and built the “gym Sue George eventually became our pre-school director. We also built the “gym house” for Paul. The strong support of gym parents helped us continue expanding the gym for the next 12 years. And as the enrollment grew, we brought in my brothers, Brian and Nick to head our developmental and boys programs and boys team. In 1990 when Paul married Kathy Hart. We moved into the 90’s with a real office manager, a computer and an answer machine. The gym took a significant step to become a more serious business.
The 90’s brought the addition of the second generation of Jewart’s to work at the gym. My sons Randy, Alex and Ben certainly added innovation and a challenge to the status quo to the business. In 1992, during the Barcelona Games we completed our next addition. We expanded the rear of the gym to set up a second vault runway and the boys’ area and added the Lucky Star gym and dance room downstairs. The rockwall pit area was added in 1993 and in 1994 we moved the pre-school gym upstairs and put in our awesome cave climbing area. A long-awaited addition to Climb North was built in 2011.
The Twenty-first Century arrived. Lainy joined the staff full-time in 2001 after graduating from Pitt. Katie retuned from Colorado in 2009 and joined her siblings as a Northstar Coach. Currently, former Northstars, Jeff Malone, Kinsey Basco, Jesse Marweg and Tiara Chadran round out the coaching staff. Currently, Jamie Stark directs our rec program, including our Lucky Stars and X-Cel gymnasts. Ariane Restelli is our pre-school director, Justin Mech manages of Climb North, and Vanessa Varndell is in charge of our tumblers. The rec gym managers along with their staffs handle the 900 + kids a week who enter the rec gym each week. Our speciality instructors bring variety to our programs. Chris Pechar oversees our T and T program. Bulgarian Champion, Kamelia Velkova heads our rhythmic program. Scott Carslaw, our former Boys program director now runs Steel City Ninja. Our most recent program, developed by Katie’s husband, Patrick Hilko is The Wild Woods: A Forest Kindergarten.
The growth and evolution of Jewart’s Gymnastics has been due to the commitment our family has to the kids we coach and the joy we find in developing youngsters in the sport of gymnastics and more. Case in point, our son Ben owns and operates his own gym in the Portland, OR area, Jewart’s Northwest with his wife, Amanda. The support of the parents of the kids we have worked with, have inspired and influenced our decisions more than they will ever know. The final key has been the wonderful staff and the former gymnasts that have worked with us over the years that have been instrumental in helping us carry on our mission. Our heartfelt thanks to other former Northstar gymnasts who have contributed to our success over the years: Sue George, MaryJayne Siriani Terak, Michelle Lichina Packer, Michelle O’Connor, Alison Hoburg, Amy Armour, Nicky Eisel, Jesse Wilson, Courtney McCauley, Kim Gillespie Smart, Louie Liguori, Candi Robbins, Ashley Andreone, Jamie Badali, Daphne Young Aglietti, Amanda Wilson, Gillian Carr, Carlena Bonomi and many others.
Lastly, the big 5 - 0 has finally arrived. 1969-2019. Wow! Our additional 14.000 square foot team training center and the remodeling of the original gym is the crowning jewel of many years of commitment to our gymnasts and our family. This past year we took the big leap and replaced the roof on the original gym. No more buckets! The growth of our programs has kid competing in 5 different Olympic Sports: Men’s and Women’s Gymnastics, Rhythmic, T and T, Sport Climbing. Personally, I am trying to increase my practice of Tai Chi so that someday, I might be able to help others benefit from its healing qualities of this ancient discipline. We are ever growing and trying to find new ways to bring our mission to the families of the North Hills. A 50 Anniversary is a just reward!
Over the years, we have been honored by, the University of Pittsburgh, Katz School of Business as the 1999 Family Business of the Year. Mrs. Jewart is a Hall of Fame athlete from Slippery Rock University, recognized for pioneering gymnastics. She is also a distinguished recipient of Pennsylvania’s 50 Best Women in Business, an award winner from the Women and Girls Foundation for “Leveling the Playing Field” for women, and a top 25 Women in Pittsburgh honoree. As a family and as friends we are proud to be a work in progress: Proud to be leaders in bringing the world of gymnastics to the Pittsburgh area: Proud of the opportunity to coach such great kids. As Wayne George posted on the gym wall many years ago, “The Greatest Kids in the World Gym Here.” After another sustaining season of competitive excellence for both our boys and girl’s gymnastics teams here in Pennsylvania, we are excited to continue the legacy that Mrs. Jewart and her brothers started almost 5 decades ago. Let’s Go Northstars!”