MVP of the Week: All-around the apparatus —and the province

New head coach Erin Hipkiss looks to build upon medal winning Prince Rupert Gymnastics Club

She has coached in all corners of the province, leaving her mark on several gymnastics clubs along the way. Now, Erin Hipkiss is looking to bring the success she has enjoyed to Prince Rupert, and further bolster the winning spirit the club has established.

Hipkiss is the new head coach of the Prince Rupert Gymnastics Club. She has prior experience with the team, having worked with them under former head coach Bill Tyrwhitt. Starting this year though she will leave her own mark, with her own coaching style, on the competitive team.

“I fell in love with this facility,” Hipkiss said when she first saw the club. Secluded in the back of the museum, the gym’s architecture and view of the water make it a picturesque training area.

“There’s something super special about the kids up here,” Hipkiss added. “When I got offered to come up here again and possibly take the job, it was definitely intriguing. I’m glad I took the job, and I’m looking forward to this season.”

Hipkiss is already hard at work, holding a week-long intensive camp in the lead-up to the new year in order to make sure her girls are ready for the competitive season. She has dozens of athletes to manage, all of varying ages, but finds time to work the floor so each group receives attention.

Like many sports today, Hipkiss is also harnessing the power of technology in her role. She will film routines and exercises on a tablet, and play it back for the girls so they can study what went well, and what part of their technique needs refining.

Erin Hipkiss tracks her students’ form through her tablet. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Hipkiss has held many jobs in the gymnastics world and has been involved with the sport most of her life. Growing up in Quesnel, she says her mom was the person who set her on her current path.

“I was running up the walls when I was a kid, so my parents put me into a parent-tot program,” Hipkiss says of her origins with gymnastics. Starting at age three, Hipkiss was competing by age six, and high level by the time she turned 12.

Hipkiss credits gymnastics with helping her in her everyday life during these years.

“It gave me a lot of self-confidence, especially going into high school,” she explained. “Being confident in myself and being able to move any way I wanted to, it’s such an empowering feeling. Especially for young girls.”

Erin Hipkiss gives out instructions as her student gets ready to attempt a routine. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Hipkiss took her first major coaching job in Fort St. John as a recreational coordinator and assistant head coach of the town’s competitive team. Following her time there, she went to North Vancouver to work for the renowned Flicka Gymnastics Club’s elite program, during which time she helped guide athletes to the national team.

A job in Fernie followed, which is where Hipkiss recounts some of her best memories.

“Fernie was amazing because I got to integrate my snowboard training,” Hipkiss said. “It was really awesome to bring those programs to the athletes out there.”

Hipkiss was especially proud of how the adult programs were able to flourish in Fernie, and she hopes to see the same success with adult athletes in Prince Rupert. She plans to offer drop-in nights where participants can come check out the sport and learn a skill.

Most recently Hipkiss coached out of Squamish with one of her mentors, Lisa Brougham. When the opportunity to coach her own team became available, it was a chance that Hipkiss jumped at. After participating or coaching gymnastics in the central, northeast, southwest and southeast parts of the province, the role here in the northwest will have put her in all regions of B.C.

Erin Hipkiss uses technology to review methods and techniques with her athletes. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Hipkiss has hit the ground running. Following the conclusion of the camp, she’s off on a flight to Squamish to retrieve her belongings. After a check-in at her former facility, she’ll be on her way back to Prince Rupert and the start of the season.

The city has come to expect a lot from its gymnastics program, with several medals won at high level competitions in recent years. Hipkiss believes she is more than up for the challenge, but she stresses that her focus is on developing well rounded athletes who leave her program.

“There’s so much to love about the sport, but I love the healthy habits that it’s instilled in me. I can’t sit still, I always have to be walking on my hands, I have to be riding my mountain bike, I have to be active,” Hipkiss said.

Erin Hipkiss tracks her students’ form through her tablet. (Alex Kurial / The Northern View)

Hipkiss lists determination and ambition as the two most prominent character traits gymnastics has bestowed upon her.

“That’s the one thing I want kids to take from the program, to develop that sense of self confidence, self awareness, and take all of those traits that I’ve learned throughout the years and take them into life.”

“I’m really focused on developing happy, healthy and strong independent kids that come through my program, rather than just gymnasts that are just out to win gold medals,” she added.

Hipkiss is looking to take her new opportunity to get back into competition herself. Aside from the competitive team, Hipkiss and her fellow coaches will run a number of recreational gymnastics classes, meant to get people interested in the sport, and to stay active.

No matter your level, Hipkiss says there is a place for everyone here in the gym.

“Gymnastics is a sport for life. It means movement,” she says. “As long as you keep moving in here, you’re a gymnast.”

Alex Kurial | Sports Reporter
Alex Kurial 
Send Alex email
Like the The Northern View on Facebook
Follow us on Twitter

gymnasticsMVP of the Week

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

‘Water Quality Advisory’ lifted for Prince Rupert

Some Prince Rupert residents are still under a ‘Boil Water Notice’

Liberals and Greens yet to announce North Coast candidates

North Coast candidates have until two weeks before the election to name contenders

Cullen confirmed as B.C. NDP candidate for Stikine despite party’s equity policy

Former Tahltan Central Government President Annita McPhee said the process made her feel “abused”

Planned upgrades didn’t go as planned

CityWest said a fibre-line break caused outages to all customers

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read