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S: Letters to the COACH

BC: 11.18.2011

FC: Letters to the COACH and other great memories from a lifetime of coaching

1: For Alan- a wonderful coach, friend and mentor. Thank you for dedicating your life to having an impact on others.

3: Life is a Competition, Play to Win

4: 2011 State Champions Overland High School


6: Winning is nice--especially winning state championships and the like--but that is clearly not what you are about. All of your thoughts this morning were on what each girl did well and how you can use that to boost their confidence, make them proud of their achievement, and grow into the mature adult they have potential to be. It was on your coaching team and how you can tell them how they contributed to team success, at the same time pointing out how each of you--head coach, coaching staff, girls, and even parents--might improve in your combined effort to help young girls become accomplished women who make their world a better place to live. Those are the things that "winning" is about, and you seem to have always known that. Furthermore, you have dedicated your life, sometimes at personal and family expense, to make winners out of those with whom you work. May God continue to bless and keep you, and may you always manage to keep your priorities straight and your head firmly attached to your body in the face of noteworthy achievement such as you just received. With all our love, Mom and Dad

7: Excellence is the Standard

8: Dear Alan, Where to begin? You have taught me so many things throughout our time together, it feels almost impossible to try and write them all down in a single letter. (A) It would be a long letter, and (B) despite this long letter, I’d still be afraid I’m missing some more memories. Well, here are some thoughts from the top of my head: Dream, believe, achieve Just do it! Bear hugs String-&-washer exercise Positive affirmations Thanksgiving candied yams Spice tea Aim high, not “to-not-come-in-last” (you had a marathon story where your friend’s goal was to “not come in last.” Do you remember?) For someone like me who didn’t grow up reading Dr. Seuss’ books, every Dr. Seuss book reminds me of you and high school gymnastics and these thoughts make my day a little bit better There’s nothing wrong with a little bit (?) of competitiveness and training to win You used to tell me to speak more nicely to my mother Leaving work behind at the stop sign (I don’t know if you still do this, but you told us that you change your frame of mind from “coach” to “father/husband” at a stop sign that’s along your drive home from the gym) The wonders of pep-talks Leadership Tough-love (at times) Harry Potter (You and Amber used to talk about them all the time, before I got into the series. You also said you read them as a family, and that image has been stuck in my head ever since) Etc. etc. Above all else though, you taught me to believe in the shy, quiet, reserved, little-o-me. I feel that I could have easily fallen through the cracks, disappeared into the crowd of girls who had more power, more tricks than me but you taught me that I have something within me that defines me, that marks my name, that I can capture the crowd’s attention with and what was more, you taught me that this little something, with hard work, can be just as worthy of a score of 10.0. Through out those teenage years in America, unsure as anyone could have ever been of one’s self, your gymnastics taught me that I too have beauty to offer. And through the years since then, I’ve carried this lesson with me and made it my own. It reminds me to be compassionate, to remain empathetic, and to be patient with other people, as well as in life’s scenarios. I also believe that this is at the basis of what drives me to become a nurse today. So thank you Alan, for being a magnificent role model in my life. I hope you and your family are doing well. Sincerely, Ayako (Mit)Suzuki

9: Alan, it is hard to squeeze 20 years of thank yous into 1 short paragraph, but I’m going to try. As a gymnast, our main goal is to win and be the best we can be. I know that without you, I could not have gotten close to this goal. With your guidance, persistence, attitude, yelling, and especially your caring heart, I would not be the person I am today. My aching hip, knees, wrists and non-functioning big toe are all memories that I will gladly carry with me forever. I thank you for showing me how to overcome obstacles, and how to push myself beyond boundaries. Or should I say flip out of bounds? Our memories of running stairs, lock-ins, initiations, snow ball fights, twizzlers, starburst, etc are still fresh and frequently bring a smile to my face. I often talk about all of my childhood memories, and you, the coaches & the gym are often part of the greatest moments. You will always have a special place in my heart. I feel honored and blessed to have such an inspirational coach & great memories to share with my daughter as she grows up. I know I didn’t seem to appreciate you back then, but I truly felt lucky to have known you during the hardest times of growing up. Past, present & future, you save lives and instill hope and confidence in every life you touch. You are more than a coach, you are a father, a mother, a mentor, a psychologist, a doctor, a trainer. but most of all, you are a blessing! Thank you, thank you, thank you for believing in me, your encouragement, tough love and everything that you’ve done for my life! The effects are far beyond measurement. Sincerely--- Shina

10: Lead by Example, Character, Encouragement

11: Alan, Thank you so much for everything you've done for me. I really appreciate it. You have inspired me like no one else. You've taught me to be a leader and team player. I remember the first night of optional tryouts and I didnt want to try out but you made me anyway, and look at me now, I'm so much better because you pushed me to be the best I could be. Thanks for everything! Love, Megamind (a.k.a. Alli Olson) | Alan, You have had such a huge impact in my life! Thank you so much for everything you have done for me throughout my many years in gymnastics. Because of this sport I have been given so many exciting opportunities. I was able to travel to Europe for two amazing weeks and experience things I never would have been able to. That is a memory I will cherish forever. I remember you were the one who pushed me to try out for Optionals when I was in third grade. If it wasn't for you, it would have taken me so much longer to build the courage to move up a level. Ever since I first became an Optional I have always wanted to be in your group. I looked up to all the older gymnasts and I wanted you to be my coach. The past four years on the high school team have been some of the best years of my life. You have always been there to support me through everything and push me to be my best. I will never forget our prank wars, scavenger hunts, rides in Big Bertha, and long sweaty hours in the gym in Vegas. I have had so much fun in this sport! Thank you for everything you have done for me and this program. I really appreciate it! Love, Emma Olson

12: Dear Alan, Congratulations on another State Championship! I hear that you are stepping down from the head coach position. I am sure this was a difficult decision. I was very fortunate that you were head coach throughout my long history with the sport! Even though I am growing up, I will always miss gymnastics, the team, and you. The diversity of experiences I had, emotions I felt, and people I met gave me so much more than just a set of gymnastics skills; You prepared me for the world outside the walls of Meadowood and Overland. Boulder is just one of these new worlds. Here is a list of the all that I learned from gymnastics and from you! I learned how to be strong and face fear. Whenever fear got into my head, you always encouraged me to confront it. This is a skill few people have. I learned how to be a team player. I loved high school gymnastics! The team spirit that resulted from the Team Dinners, Freshman-Senior Teas, Banquets, and Vegas Camps (which you organized) made such an impact. We were not just a team we were a gymnastics family! I learned how to recover. I had my share of injuries: ankle, toe (that was a strange injury) and ACL, but with your encouragement I was able to regain confidence and come back each time, usually with a new accessory and a new nickname (knee sleeve = Darth Vader). I learned how to fight for my dreams. Tearing my ACL was unfortunate, but it gave me the opportunity to fight for gymnastics. You, the team, and of course Jim and Lisa (PT trainer) supported me in every step of the recovery process. I learned the value of relationships. As you might recall, I have two names, Christy or Courtney. Well, now that I think about it I am also known as Darth Vader, Snow White (Cayla), and the more traditional: Horber and Horbie, but for this story, I was Courtney. When I was 11 I decided to enter the world of USA gymnastics. The gym I chose was Gymnastics Plus. We both know how the story ends: I decided to come back to CARA and you introduced me as Courtney who had quite an elaborate back-story (my dad was a vampire). So why did I come back? Well the coach at GP never pushed me as much as you did. He didn’t know me as well. I came back because of

13: you and I am so happy with my decision. The way you introduced me as Courtney confirmed all the reasons why I chose CARA-AI over USA. Gymnastics was so much more than a sport because of the people I became close with: you, Jeff, Lisa, and the many girls I met throughout the years. I learned how to accept failure. Falls on beam were never good, but I always had to get back up and finish the routine. Of course, there were consequences that followed (conditioning, yelling, etc) but you helped me learn from my mistakes and move on. Failure is a part of succes which sounds cliché, but it is true. I learned that if you work hard, you can go to Europe. Of course there are other benefits of hard of work, but The Denmark Trip stands out in the crowd. Here is another cliché: the journey is more important than the destination. I definitely remember the three performances we gave during the festival, but I will never forget the dance practices, the plane rides, the many bus rides and tours, the hotels, the excursions, and the dinners. If I would have done any other sport or been a part of any other gymnastics team, I would not have had the opportunity to travel outside the US with a group of people I felt so comfortable with. We had this opportunity because of you! The Las Vegas Camps are another example of the unique opportunities we had a s a gymnast on your team. This is by no means a complete list, but rather a short summary. Whenever I think about gymnastics, you are always a part of the memory. Thank you for all the time and energy you devoted to us a nd to the sport! Love, Christy Horber

14: Dear Alan, Words cannot begin to express how much you mean to me and how grateful I am for everything you’ve done for me. Over the last couple of years you have been so much more than just a coach to me. I never thought that joining a gymnastics team would have such a huge impact on my entire life. I had been to so many different gyms and had so many different coaches, but I’ve never felt the strong sense of family that I did when I was part of the Aurora Illusions/OHS teams. As an only child, it was amazing to suddenly have so many sisters that I truly loved. This team has helped me in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I have gained life-long friends and grown so much as a person. None of this could have happened without you. You have been such an amazing father-figure to me, and even though I may not have always expressed it to you, it means the world to me. Especially since my Dad has not always been a huge part of my life, having you there means the world to me! The program that you’ve ran for so many years has been such a huge success and has made such a positive impact on so many lives, you should be so proud. Not many people care as much as you do about a sport and the competitors that participate in it. The fact that you push us shows how much you care. You push us to be not only better gymnasts, but also better people. You have helped me become more determined, responsible, outgoing, and overall well-rounded. No matter how many times I say thank you, it doesn’t do you any justice. Even now that I graduated and am technically not part of the team anymore, I still feel a strong connection to you and the team. No matter how much time passes, I will always feel some sense of belonging to gymnastics as a whole, and this team specifically, and I can’t say that about any other sport or group I’ve been involved with. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me! You have made more of an impact on more lives than you’ll ever know. And while I may never drive behind you ever again, I know you’d still always be there for me if I ever needed you. And when Karli and I become famous clothing designers (specializing in thongs of course), we will mention you in our speech, thanking you for the video and glitter that led to all our success. You are such an amazing coach, dad and person. I have learned so many life lessons from you that I will never forget! I know I’ve said it a thousand times before, but thanks again for everything! Love Always, Tera Meschko

18: Alan, Words cannot describe how much of an impact you have had on my life. Not only as a gymnast, but as a person, you helped me to face my fears and overcome challenges. Whether it was accomplishing a new skill on beam or accomplishing a goal in everyday life, you always helped me to believe in myself and to never give up. You taught me commitment, you gave me confidence and these are things I am grateful for. From the time I started at Aurora Illusions, performed in Denmark, and the amazing times in high school gymnastics, you have played such an important part in shaping who I am today. I remember so many times we won meets we never thought we had a chance to win, but because of you we dominated. I remember when we were so scared to do a skill but you pushed us to do it because you believed so strongly in our capabilities. Alan, you are one of a kind and an amazing coach. You are a person that not many people are lucky enough to know, and I am thankfully one of the lucky ones. You are an inspiration and someone who so many people look up to. I wanted to say thank you for committing so much time to us gymnasts and helping us to become who we are today. Love always, Kara Walsh

19: Dear Alan, You are a talented driven coach and it seems whatever you strive for you always succeed.This team has won almost every meet and competition and we could NOT have done it without you.You have made this season fun and the way you are makes everyone want to impress you.Thank you for being a great coach! -Maya Allen

20: Alan, I’ve done gymnastics all my life. From the time I could walk, until I had acquired enough injuries so that I pretty well couldn’t walk any more. From when I was 5 or 6 to the end of 7th grade, I didn’t know what it meant to have a great coach. In fact my experience with coaches sucked. I went from gym to gym being told I was too tall, not skinny enough, untalented, lazy, uncoachable, stupid, you name it. They made sure I knew I didn’t belong there. Everything about CARA was different. The girls, the program, the coaches, the whole atmosphere of the gym seemed different. It was like a whole new sport. I no longer felt like an outcast or unwanted. I finally had a place where I felt like people genuinely cared about me as a person and not just how good a gymnast I might be. All of the coaches actually care about more than just scores. And not only do they care, but you can joke with them and have fun as well. It is a completely different relationship. I don’t know how to describe it, but I loved it. It just felt right. This wasn’t just another gym, it was home. The girls aren’t just team mates. The coaches aren’t just instructors. They are family. I didn’t just find a place where I belong; I found a place where I can leave everything else behind, where nothing else matters. A place where I can let go and just be me. All of us are free to be the individuals we were meant to be. And all of these individuals come together, with all our quirks and craziness, to make one beautiful team. That alone was enough to keep me going no matter how bad things got. No matter how bad of a day I’m having, as soon as I walk in the door it’s like it never happened. I’ve learned so much more than an uprise or hand-full from you and from the CARA/high school team. Even if your speeches have the tendency to beat the dead horse, I know I have always found some part of it to be exactly what I needed to hear, both for gymnastics and for my life in general. Something always stuck. The tangent you went on in Vegas may have been a little depressing, but it gave me hope that things would get better. Everything changed for me that night and to think I considered not doing gymnastics that year. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t been on the team senior year, but I do know it changed my life significantly for the better. It is by far my most cherished memory, and got me through so much more than I could have handled on my own. And even though I miss it, it prepared me for life beyond high school and now I have somewhere to come back to and my second family who I know will always be there for me. Besides the learning and growing through gymnastics, I remembered why I did this sport in the first place. Gymnastics was fun again. It wasn’t something I dreaded anymore or did just because I was told I had to do a sport. I actually enjoyed it. You made it my favorite sport all over again. And even with all the injuries and bad coaches, I don’t regret doing gymnastics. I honestly believe that all the bad just made the good that much more amazing. For all that you have done for me and every girl who has walked into the gym, thank you. Love, Kerry aka Little Alan <3 P.S. I thought after I graduated I would be done with these letters. I actually had to stop writing a couple times just so I wouldn’t start crying like I did senior year.

21: Dear Alan, First off congratulations on winning the state gymnastics championship again. It was a nerve racking but exciting night and I don’t even have a daughter on the team anymore. I also want to take this opportunity to thank you for being an important part of Kait and Kerrys’ lives. When we first moved here Kait was leaving a program where a Russian coach kept telling her she would never be able to fly away or tuck or do two good back handsprings even though other coaches new she already had those skills. She was ready to quit. But after one high school practice she knew she wanted to keep at it and be part of a team. Kerry also had bad experiences with ex soviet coaches and a program that couldn’t make up its mind what its philosophy was. The last straw for me came when I would see you with the girls during competitions coaching even as they walked back up the vault runway while at Kerry’s gym the judges were asking the girls where their coach was. It took Kerry a little while longer to decide she’d had enough and she wanted to quit. Kait and I talked her into trying CARA and while there were still some tough times and times she wanted to quit, in the end especially after getting to High School she was glad she kept at it. She often told me that the gym was her second home and I believe that’s an important thing for a teenager to have. Both girls still tell stories of their time on the team and some of the crazy things you did and the stories of how your grandmother could run faster than they could. You seem to have had a lot of grandmothers. I even texted Kerry this wed. to tell her you were probably mad because the schools were closed and there was no practiced right before states. Both girls got their best grades during high school season. Just knowing that you saw their grades kept them at the books. They were more afraid of facing you than me. Thanks for that too. I have to admit though it will be refreshing for the parents to get a different beginning of the season speech. I think I could give the whole speech word for word. Though at least you finally stopped telling the Addy missing the bus story. And I’m sure the girls are looking forward to Lisa giving the after meet talks she can’t possibly talk as much as you do. I remember one of Kait’s meets in Lakewood when the parents were about to leave the girls with you because you kept talking and it was past our bedtimes. Talk about beating a dead horse. It will be strange without you as head coach but you’ve done a good job preparing Lisa. I know the program will continue in good hands. Have fun just coaching without all the extra responsibilities. You’ve earned it. Thank you again for all you’ve done. God Bless. Love, Karen Then

22: Alan, You have impacted my life in so many ways. I never thought by joining the high school gymnastics team I would be meeting not only one of the best coaches I’ve ever had, but a man that was there for me when no one else could understand what I was going through, a man that helped me out when I desperately needed it. Although, I chose to move away from the Aurora Illusions family I hope that you know that I love you so much and I can never tell you how thankful for everything you have done for me and everything you taught me not only through gymnastics, but in life as well. I know maybe to you it felt as though I was abandoning you and the program, but I have learned that sometimes in life you have to make choices and I made a choice to go to a program that needed my strengths (learned in part by you). I was a good coach when I went to you, but you taught me what things I needed to know to be an even better coach. Leaving you was hard the first time around in high school and I can assure you it was much harder this time around. It is hard to leave behind what you love, but taking my teachings to others in need is what was necessary. Your program is unbelievable because of what you created. You and Lisa are the best coaches anyone could ever ask for, and I was so lucky to learn from the best. I love you so very much and hope that I will always be able to have you in my life. You impact all who go through the program and I thank you for your impact not only on my life, but my family’s as well. Love Always, Allison Ritz (Griego)

23: Dear Alan, You are one of the most inspirational, motivational, and caring person I have ever met. You have taught me many lessons, motivated, and inspired many people. You care for everyone but most importantly, you are Alan. You are really funny and in gym when you are coaching you will joke around and have fun but you definitely know when its time to work. Because you make me work so hard you have made me a better gymnast and a better person. You taught me to speak up. I was a really shy person but after meeting you you showed me that being shy isn't going to help you get anywhere. During my short time with you I have also learned that you don't like flip flops and you have also suggested to stop wearing them. After all my injuries from flip flops I am still wearing them but maybe after a couple years of learning from you I will stop. You are one of the best coaches I have ever met. You are very funny but that's not the whole reason why you're the best. It's because you help and support everyone and you never give up. You helped raise money to support one of our gymnasts who had cancer. You were bound to help her. Also, you will get a girl who wants to get better at gymnastics and you will help her at her needs not what others are working on.You will help them get to where they want to get and won't ever give up. My favorite part about you is that you run a gym with a slogan "Dream Believe Achieve". It's my favorite quote ever. It is my role model, you are my role model. On my cell phone, my signature was dream believe achieve even before I went to this gymnastics. This is one reason why I feel that this place is the perfect place for me. One other reason why I love this gym is because you are one of the most awesome coaches. Don't ever give up your dreams and never stop being you. Thank you for everything you have done, not just for me but for everyone you have helped, cared for, and supported. Sincerely, Christine Yee

24: Dear Alan, Thank you for everything. You have dedicated your life to helping us grow as gymnasts, and as individuals. Considering the fact that I was a part of Cara from ages seven to seventeen, I have many fond memories that include you, and the programs you ran. Just the other day, Ashley and I were talking about the bus ride to Las Vegas. Both of us fell asleep while we were supposed to be listening to you. You were even using our names in a story you were telling, and we were snoring away. That same trip, my partner in crime and I were late to everything. We were late to meet before practice once because we HAD to get starbucks. You must have loved us a little extra because we barely even got in trouble for that one. We were even in separate rooms that year because you knew we were "double trouble". Not only did gymnastics create memories I will have for life, it also was a safe haven from at times, a pretty horrible household. You were always a supportive father figure when I was going through the most difficult of times. You helped to keep me on track, and become the happy, healthy person I am today. Without Cara, I could have easily hung out with the wrong crowd of people and been sucked into a destructive path of life. The high school gymnastics program started some of the best friendships I have today. Suzy, Brooke and I were inseparable my freshman year. I remember one time we faked having car trouble so we could go to chipotle. Which was one of the funniest memories I have. We even rubbed our hands against the tires to make them dirty when we finally got there. Later that same year, Brooke tripped on a mat during picture day, do you remember her jumping up and saying, "I'm Okay!!". Now, eight years later Brooke, Suzy and Ashley are going to be the bridesmaids in my wedding. Thank you for a place to build these friendships, create lifelong memories, grow into smart successful young women, and a safe place to be yourself through the good and the bad. You are the constant factor in all of the memories and hardships. So again, thank you, thank you for everything you do. Love, Kami

25: One Team ~ One Vision ~ One Goal

26: 2009 State Champions Overland High School


28: Alan, Through gymnastics you have provided me the means to believe in my confidence. You have inspired me to view life’s fears as dares. You are the reason I allow my failures to challenge my future. In seeing what you have accomplished and what experience you have shared with others I know that my strength has no limits; the world cannot hold me down. It’s difficult to look back at memories of high school gymnastics, to look back at what I used to have, until I realize that I am the holder of these memories. I can keep them, chase them or make use of them whenever I choose to. I cannot even begin to imagine what my life would be like if I never had gymnastics as an outlet; if I did not have you to talk to or listen to (mostly listen to). Your influence is a huge reflection of who I am today. The years that I had the opportunity to have you as my coach will forever remain close to my heart. No matter where life takes me, no matter how many other influential people I meet, you will always be remembered. Your legacy is branded into many lives. Luckily for me, I am one of them. With love, Hannah Hettich

32: Dear Alan, I just wanted to thank you, once again, for making such a huge impact in my life. I enjoyed my four years of high school gymnastics so much, and you were obviously a huge part of that. When I first joined the team in freshman year, I was, as you so often like to remind me, a “deer in the headlights.” However, that didn’t stop you from pushing me to my full potential. When I came in, I was terrified of my giants, and had been having mental issues for years. However, once you got me doing them again, I never had another problem with them, and I’ve never forgotten that it was you who helped me get there. You also got me going again after my elbow injury, spotting me on even the simplest of skills, like backwalkovers and kips. If it hadn’t been for you, I don’t know if I ever would have gotten all of my skills back, and I certainly wouldn’t have progressed as quickly. I came into that last season not expecting to be able to compete at all, much less at state, but you got me there. So thank you, Alan. You are a great coach because you genuinely care about everyone, and always made sure that everyone worked hard and felt special and important. You also have a great way of lightening tension by making everyone laugh, and telling jokes or just funny comments. I remember one day, when I had been coming in to practice early and you were helping me on my Yurchenkos, you asked me the question “What sports, besides gymnastics and swimming, do you not wear shoes in?” We came up with several answers, I don’t remember what all they were now, but the whole team spent the practice randomly coming up with those, which was a really fun thing to do. I don’t know why, but when I sat down to write this letter that was one of the first memories that came into my head. Another thing you would do is, while we were running those millions of laps around the floor, randomly decide to play football with us. Or, sometimes, not tell us that we were playing and just chuck tape at us while we were facing the other direction. While I suck at football, it was a fun distraction from the running, and also funny to watch all the other girls attempt to catch it, too. Basically, what I’m trying to say is, that you are an amazing coach and person. I am so happy that I decided to do high school gymnastics, since it allowed me to meet you and all the other wonderful people on the team. Thanks so much for everything, Alan! Love, Kim

34: Dear Alan, I wanted to let you know, if I haven't already, what a big impact you have had on my life. I remember the first time meeting you when I decided to try out Meadowood after almost having given up on finding the joy for gymnastics I once had. Even though I was very nervous and unsure of my decision to give the sport a second chance, something about your welcoming nature and encouragement gave me the confidence to move forward. Even when I never would have chosen to jump into the Vegas trip that first summer, you were there to encourage me. Not so that I could become a better gymnast, but so I could learn to enjoy the sport and make friends. Since then I have always deeply appreciated your ability to care for me beyond my performance in a meet, but as an individual who needed a friend and supporter. But our friendship has not been without challenging times. As I remember back to my bars accident in 2005, I recall being deeply upset that I had ruined the entire season and that there was no hope of regaining everything that I had worked for up to that point . Though all of your loving care during my recovery was much appreciated, what spoke the most to me was your lack of fear in calling me out of my circumstances and into the strength you knew I had inside. Without your challenging words of encouragement I may have spent the rest of the season wallowing in self-centered frustration, instead of getting to experience the most redemptive season of my career. As much as I loved the sport of gymnastics for all the years I did it, and still miss it even now, acrobatic skill is not what I think of when I consider the greatest gain over the course of those thirteen years. Instead, words like dedication, persistence, leadership, endurance, and perspective come to mind. Many of these lessons I owe to my time working with you. At the State Meet my senior year, after having already been disappointed with an ankle injury that season, my substandard performance on bars was the last way I wanted to end my career in gymnastics. Though I have re-lived the frustration of that moment many times since, I learned a greater lesson that day that is worth much more than a medal. I learned the humility of pushing past my own disappointment to focus on the encouragement of others. I learned that one day’s victory would not define me as much as a lifetime of character. I learned that the legacy that I wanted to leave was joy rather than perfection. Thank you for all you have done to pour into my life, I certainly would not have been able to learn many of those lessons without your influence. Though I understand that you are not completely in agreement with what I am doing with my life right now, I do thank you for all the ways you have supported me in the past and the ways you continue to do so today. Thank you! Love, Cynthia Omega

36: Dear Alan, It has been four years since my gymnastics career ended but you have made an impact on my life that I will remember forever. When I first started gymnastics I came in at the beginning of competition season and as you may remember that first season I struggled trying to learn routines, I was eight years old. I was very shy and let’s face some of the older girls were less than friendly to me () and so I stayed quiet. I remember my freshman year of high school, we had just gotten back from our camp in Vegas and you were talking with Chelsea Hunter on bars and you told her how funny she was and how much you liked her, and I wanted you to think I was funny and to like me too. Suzy Shock and the other girls on the team helped me come out of my shell freshman year (mistake?) and I got to know and become such good friends with everyone on the team, including you. I treasure the relationship that we developed, even if you pushed me, because you understood me, and you knew what I needed. One of my favorite memories (aside from you telling me that you are glad that you made me cry because with Christy injured you hadn’t gotten your daily showers) is the day after pictures when you made The Conditioning List to Kill (not so funny then). You told us the day of pictures that after pictures we could stay and practice or go home and we all made the wrong decision (and every year after that we yelled at the freshman to make sure they stayed after pictures!). The next day was hell. You made us condition for so hard that Cynthia threw up in the trash can by the floor. But that was what I love about you as a coach; you pushed us to make us better and stronger, both mentally and physically. And I could write a book about all the memories I have of you: like how we would get you telling stories so we didn’t have to practice, or how we would talk with you while we were stretching, or how we would try to push you into the foam pit, or how you would talk trash about people, or all the countless memories we formed in Vegas and Europe But it would take me forever to list all the memories I have with you because you were such a big part of my life for over a decade.

37: At our banquette my senior year when Christy and I were giving our speeches I said that you were like a second father to me- and I know that I am not the only person who feels this way. You have touched so many girls’ lives in such a special way that you are like a father to us all. You have taught us to be tough, to never give up, to treat our teammates and coaches with respect, and (my personal favorite) that life is a competition and we should play to win. I have gone to Europe, Vegas countless times, you have taken us indoor skydiving, and I have made so many wonderful memories and friendships that will last me a lifetimeall because of you, and I can’t thank you enough. You not only supported me in gymnastics but in my other sports as well (I will never forget you and TJ coming to my fast-pitch softball games!). You also took an interest in my life (and the other girls’ lives) wanting to know how things were going at home, at school, with boys, and anything else that came up. And that is just one of the great things about you; you care about each person individually. You have impacted my life Alan in such an amazing way that you will always be in my heart and a part of my life; no matter where I am in the world the lessons you taught me (like positive self talk) I still use every day, and every day I use the tools that you have given me I think of you. Thank you for supporting me not only in my gymnastics but in my life as well. You are, without a doubt, the best coach I have ever had (and you know how many sports I played!). Thank you for investing you time and energy into me, and never giving up on me. My freshman year you told us that our team was like our family, and like always, you were right- and you were the most important part of our family. Thank you Alan. Love always, Cayla Bushman

38: Alan, I have known you since i was three years old. So pretty much my entire life. You were there for me during hard times at gymnastics, and hard times out of gymnastics. You are a great guy and coach . The harder you pushed me at practice the better i did , so thank you for that. Some of the things you taught me , i do now with Makayla. You push her the same way that you pushed me , and i love that. CARA and high school gymnastics would have never been the same without you . I love having a daughter to pass on the tradition of her mom and Aunts. Thanks again for being a great coach ! Tracy Rusk (Bridge) | Dear Alan, I have learned tons from you! One of the many things I have learned is how to have an enthusiastic sprit at practice. You always have a resilient stamina! Vegas was a blast and there was too many memories to count. I can remember numerous times when you encouraged me to do my best. Not only have my teammates impacted my life but you have also. Lastly, you have taught me lessons that can be used inside and outside the gym. Kalee Noe


41: Dear Alan, I just wanted to say thank you so much for always being so supportive and motivating throughout all of these years. It really meant a lot to me that you were so positive when I hurt my back and how you still made me feel like a part of the team. Your personality and sarcasm helped tremendously through the emotional times of being an injured athlete. I will never forget the nickname “Ilene” that you gave me when I found out I had a leg-length discrepancy. You also me realize and understand that there really is more in life than just doing gymnastics. I still to this day remember the night that you called me into your office and wanted to talk to me (after noticing that I was very hesitant to talk to you about quitting). You not only knew how hard it was for me to say “I’m done” but also knew how much of a passion I have for the sport itself. I want to make sure you know how much I appreciate you for not only making it easier on me by already knowing what I was going to say...but also for giving me the chance to teach pre-team and team and continue to develop as a coach. By doing so, you have allowed me to re-live my passion for gymnastics through other children and also opened my eyes to a career that I don’t think I will ever give up. You have made the gym such a fun place to work at and an exciting learning environment for the gymnasts. I wanted to thank you for all of your dedication, along with all of the time and effort you put into the Aurora Illusions program, and High school gymnastics program. I don’t think it would be the way it is now without you. Thanks for all of the great memories and laughs. Oh and all of the hard times you gave me like going to Nebraska for school. I really hope you know how much of an impact you have made on my life and how much I really do appreciate you. P.S. Remember all of the times you tackled me into the mats, and threw my shoe...well it’s my turn to get you back now. HAHA Thanks for everything! Kira Fleck

42: Alan, I can’t believe you have coached me gymnastics for over 14 years. You not only taught me determination, you gave me the sills to persist in life’s game, and for that I will give thanks for you and look back that I had the privilege of calling you my coach. You not only saw more in me, but more then I thought I could ever do and be. You taught me discipline, in who and what the mind and body can do when you set goals and dreams to achieve. Beyond an Athlete’s schemes, beyond normal endurance, beyond myself and ever since then I am a greater woman, because you taught me never to quit or give up. Always reach for your goals and Dreams, cause if we can Dream we can believe, and we can achieve!! I am so thankful to have had a chance to know you as a coach and as a friend. I wish you the best of luck in the many years to come and hope you will always follow your heart and dreams. Please also tell Chris and your family Thank You as well for being apart of my life. Dream, Believe, and Achieve!!!! Love Always, Michelle Bridge | Hey Alan! Well to start I think you’ve done a great job with the gymnastics program. It has had a great impact in my life and so have you. I know what it is like to have a negative coach and how it can affect your passion for the sport. So thank you for being a fantastic coach and always being there! It really made a difference, even after I stopped gymnastics. You taught me to always try harder and to truly be confident, which has really helped now that I dance. You were the one who pushed me into trying out for Optionals and I am so glad that you did. I like how you care about all of the girls not only as gymnasts but as individuals as well. I will always remember that one practice when it was just Emma and I and we worked on tumbling and I improved so much in just that one practice. Even though I only competed in high school gymnastics freshman year, I did gymnastics all my life up until then and it showed me what I really wanted to achieve. I love gymnastics and I always will.Thank you so much! Love, Jenna Behm

43: Dear Alan, I am so glad that I met you when I moved to Aurora. You have taught me that I shouldn’t be afraid of doing certain skills, including jumping to the high bar. My favorite memory is when you grabbed my ankle and threw me to the high bar because after that very push I wasn’t afraid anymore. I was finally was confident in myself to jump. You are such a great coach because you are always there for us, you make me want to do better, and you don’t let us quit on ourselves. Thank you so much for all of your years of coaching me. I can be a handful! Love, Sammi Orsini | Alan, Where do I begin? I guess all I have to say is..."You don't even know me!" Okay, maybe you did know me more than I would ever let on. I can not believe it has been 16 years since I graduated (yes you are getting old), but it really does not feel like that long ago. Seeing you at the meets has been fun for me to see you from the outside looking in. Although we had our ups and downs I can see how much you care about the girls and how much you cared back then. Thank you for pouring your life into gymnastics and more importantly, into the lives of gymnasts for so many years. Cynthia Pillow (Craven) | Dear Alan, Thank you so much for taking time out of your life to help me become a better gymnast and person. You have taught me not only skills in gymnastics but life lessons.You taught me to believe in myself and others, to always be there to support my team.You have brought me so close to the coaches and the girls.The gym is my second home. You have helped make me the person I am today i can not thank you enough for everything you have done for me. I have so many memories about the gym i will never forget. You are one of the best coach's i have ever had and im thankful to be able to share part of my life with you. Im glad you put up with me because I can be hard to handle. Overall you have inspired me to strive for my dreams and to not be afraid to make mistakes along the way. Thank you so much! Love, Chloe

44: Dear Alan, I am not even sure where to begin. When I was asked to write this letter to honor you I began to think back to when we first meet. It was over 8 years ago! It was during one of Ashlen Cline’s meets and I came with her sister Amanda. I was still in middle school at the time and as soon as you found out I was a gymnast, the recruiting process began. It wasn’t until my sophomore year at Cherokee Trail that I decided to compete for you. It was one of the best experiences of my life. You had a way of making that team like a family. It didn’t matter that we all came from different schools, we all had one goal and that was made apparent at practice everyday. During my sophomore year state meet for CGI, I tore my ACL. I can honestly say you were the one who helped me to overcome the fear of getting all my skills back. And that was not an easy task considering the fear I had for some of those skills! “I like Bars, I can do Bars, I like Bars, Just go for it Danica, I like Bars” I can guarantee those are words you will remember for the rest of your life. I am now telling my some of my C.A.R.A. girls to say those words. Speaking of C.A.R.A. I would also like to thank you for that experience. C.A.R.A. is nothing like USAG and I was lost when me and my roommate Megan took over the program in Greeley. You helped out so much with all the questions I had regarding the gymnastics league and all the rules. It shows a lot about a person’s character when they are willing to help their competition succeed. I know all of the Windsor girls look up to your team, you were always so welcoming to them and made them feel important at all of the meets we attended together. It really meant a lot to me to see you make those girls smile. Now we will be making the Aurora Illusions team smile together! I am so excited to be coaching for you again. All of the skills that you and your staff had taught me transferred to my work with gymnastics in northern Colorado and I also want to thank you for that. I have been able to spread the love of gymnastics that you gave to me to countless other younger and older girls. You have been such a role model for me. You were there for me through the good times and the bad. You pushed me to reach my full potential as a gymnast and a coach. I can truly say I would not be the person I am today without the influence you had on me. I am very excited for the years ahead to see how our relationship grows and the positive impact we will have on future gymnasts. Alan thank you for being you! Love, Danica Eisaman

46: A True team knows your weaknesses, but shows you your strengths. Feels your fears, but fortifies your faith. Sees your anxieties, but frees you spirit. Recognizes your shortcomings, but emphasized your possibilities.

47: Coach Alan, Thank you so much for all the time you spend helping us get better at gymnastics. Every day you are there ready to work and coach! You have such amazing experience coaching. You have done this for so long, that you know what you are doing and what needs to be done. It impressed me the other day when you recognized what Ashlynn was thinking when she did her clear hip to handstand half. You said something like she was focusing more on perfecting the first handstand than the second part of the skill. Every one loves you; I am surprised at how many people know whom I am talking about when I mention your name! We think highly of you and know that you love what you do and really can coach well! You run both teams with ease; and are so passionate about our high school team! Thank you, Hannah Fliegel

50: Dear Alan- Even though I only had the chance to work with you for a year, I wholeheartedly believe it was the experience that changed my life. I think you have an amazing gift that is often underestimated; you are simply destined to work with kids/young adults, and I’m sure I speak for every single one of your gymnasts when I say that. You have an unparalleled ability to connect with any person you encounter and develop a meaningful relationship with them. Anybody can be a good coach, but only you sincerely desire to wake up in the morning and go impact someone’s life just by coaching them and being around them. Your crazy, completely unconventional antics are a true factor in the shaping of all of our characters. I mean personally, at the point in my life I was in when we got to work together, you were the only person who wouldn’t take my s**t and that definitely helped me in a lot of ways. My season as an Overland gymnast was more than memorable, but the ones I love most are with you and the girls. (I still have my “thumbs up guide” and a picture of Kaylee with a mortified look on her face in your kitchen holding a giant cucumber). These things don’t seem like a huge deal, but the way you can make all of us laugh it out is super powerful. I think the key to living a happy life is to be able to laugh at the dumbest things in the heat of a stressful moment; sometimes things get in our way and we may find ourselves in a dark place mentally or emotionally, but along comes Alan taping one of his athletes to the beam until she can “figure it out.” You teach us to not take things so seriously, which is something that not a lot of people learn. At the end of the day, life is too short to not have that knowledge. So thank you for all of the dedication and love you put in to what you do. I miss you and hope that you know that you are loved by every person you have touched, and we are all so thankful to have someone like you in our lives! Love Kennedy Richmond

52: Alan honestly I have know idea what I need to say because you already know how much I appreciate all that you have done for me since I can remember and that i will always love you as a coach, a supervisor and a father. I've gone through so much with you that it's hard to remember all of it because there are so many memories together.Like me getting into trouble for not showing up to one practice for the Denmark trip or choosing me to fit into the suit case as Laney Hawk dragged me out during our performance at OHS, or when you rubbed my head when i was sick and took the time out of your busy schedule to just help me out. Alan i can't even believe that i'm saying goodbye to gymnastics as a gymnast because I've always seen myself in that position and not just a coach. I know i will always have you in my life and i know that i can always go to you for anything, it's just hard knowing that i'm not going to be you and lisa's gymnast anymore, I'll be known as the former gymnast and or coach. Alan i'm so happy i got to spend so many years with you and let me tell you it has been one great ride, you will always be remembered and will always have a place in my heart. I love you. Caitlin Carl

53: Alan, You have been such a great coach and a great person. You have inspired me and the whole team to be great! I remember when I first became an optional and we were lifting weights and you gave me a little bag of pencils to lift. I thought it was so funny and I will never forget that moment. I have had so many more fun moments in the gym with you. You always want the best for the team. You do everything to make the team better, and that’s what makes you such a great coach. You have been such an amazing mentor and I want to thank you for everything you have done. Love, Brianna Manuel

54: The Power of 10: Creating Courageous Leaders Convictions Stronger than Words Vision Clearer than Doubts Sensitivity beyond Popular Opinion Self Esteem Deeper than Self Protection Discipline Greater than Desire for Leisure

55: Drive more Forceful than the Status Quo Poise Unshakable ro Panic Risk Taking Stronger than Playing it Safe Actions more Robust than Rationalization Maximizing Potential Over the Desire to Please Others

56: Dear Alan, I remember when you told me that gymnastics wasn’t going to just be about gymnastics and that my time here would teach me about the rest of my life. I pretty distinctly remember not thinking much of that. I thought you were just saying something standard so that I would stop obsessing over the present and look at what was going on in the bigger picture. After being gone from the sport for almost two years, it is remarkable that I hardly feel gone. It doesn’t seem like anything has ended and even though I don’t come to the gym any day of the week, and I am not part of a wonderfully dynamic team, this was still an experience that completely shaped who I am and even where I am. Sure I miss wearing a leotard with my best friends and working out, but I still have what counts. It is funny how as you get older, the things you hold most dear to you sort of whittle down—getting fewer and fewer, but more and more valuable. I came out of this sport knowing how it feels to be terrified and frustrated, poised and controlled, and some vague clue of what it meant to be confident, dominant, and aggressive. I came into Meadowood following the Cleere’s from Quest, with my slightly insane but good-intentioned mother, and not a whole lot else. I left your gymnastics program, but I didn’t leave you. Alan, you are still one of the first people I think to call when I am dealing with things I can’t deal with alone. I think I might even be more comfortable calling you now than when I was in high school. You are someone I can genuinely count on for useful advice, and there aren’t many people I can say that about. You have always been more than a coach, and I think that is why it still doesn’t feel like anything has ended. You aren’t my coach anymore, but while I was doing gymnastics you were a parent, a mentor, and a friend. These are all positions you’ve continued to fill in my life even after the gymnastics part was over, and I couldn’t possibly express how thankful I am for that. I don’t have a lot of functional adults in my life, I don’t even really know what it is like to have a stable home life, and I might’ve turned out kind of funny because of that. I was thinking the other night about what I want to do, and I don’t think it is architecture. I thought about anything that has ever meant something to me, and anyone who has ever done something worthwhile with their life. I know I want that. The first person that came to mind was you. Now I’m thinking about doing math and secondary education because on the off chance that there is some off-child that I can make feel like someone out there cares that they are grow up alright, I want to be there. This isn’t intended to sound corny, and it isn’t me feeling a half-hearted desire to give back to a community that gave so much to me. You were just like a parent to me, I am a product of my teachers and coaches, and I think I turned out okay because of you. I think you already knew all of this, but I guess all I can say is thank you again. I am thankful to know you, and I am thankful that none of this really ever ended. Love, Jessica Appelbaum

58: Alan, You know how I feel about you. There are few people in my life that have been able to see me at my lowest points and see me at my highest points. Gymnastics is funny that way you can hit your highest and lowest points all in one day. It is an understatement to say that I learned a lot both from you and the sport. Events are placed in our lives that help shape the people we are supposed to become. I know I would not be the same person I am today without you. I hold the time I spent with you close to my heart. You are a coach, a father figure, a hard-ass, and a friend. It is rare that we can find life long relationships, and I think its safe to say that we have found ourselves one of those with each other. I wish I could say that I didn’t hear your voice in my head sometimes telling me not to do something. I am so glad I can still be part of the program as a judge so that I still get to see you and how your team is growing and evolving. Lets face it, you have a pretty good team on your hands. However, I would appreciate it if you would stop winning state championships now that I have graduated (it makes me jealous). I can’t imagine gymnastics without you, and I know you will find a way that your opinion about the sport will always be heard. I know I will always be able to find you when I need you, and you, like gymnastics, will always be part of my life. Caiti Glasgo

60: Dear Alan, Thank you for the many years you put into coaching gymnasts, including me. You have always been more than a coach; you’ve been a teacher, leader, and role model. You made gymnastics more than just a team sport, but instead a family. Your hard work and dedication has made amazing gymnasts and strong women that will continue to excel in life. I love that you took an interest in my life apart from gymnastics. You took interest in my schooling, social life, and family. Along with taking an interest in my life, you shared parts of your life, including your family. I loved when TJ came to Las Vegas during my first preseason high school camp. Also, I enjoyed the couple times I was able to babysit for you. It meant a lot knowing that out of the many girls that were capable of babysitting, you chose me and trusted me. My first memory of you was when I competed in my first compulsory 4 meet. I was not able to complete my back walk over. After I finished my routine, you came up to tell me I had a great routine, and that we would continue to work on that skill, so I would have it by the next meet. You gave me confidence and allowed me to believe in myself, which you continued to do throughout my gymnastics career. You continued to help me believe in my skills, such as my round-off dismount on beam and the ability to land my full on vault. My favorite memory of you was at a Loveland Invitational meet. You took me aside before the meet to pray with you and Lisa. It was so thoughtful to include me. I had never had so much confidence in myself and the team knowing that the Lord’s hand was upon us. The long hours of work you have committed to coaching shows your love and dedication to the sport. I hope you continue to change the lives of gymnasts and know you will always hold a special place in my heart. Just so you know, YOU ROCK!!!! Love, Chelsea Hunter

62: Alan, I know it has been a while since we have talked, but this letter is to tell you how my years in the gym and with you as my coach have greatly changed my life for the better. I remember being a level four and looking up to the older gymnasts, wanting to put on that optional leo and compete. The one catch with that dream was that you scared me half to death. I saw you work those girls so hard, and I wanted more than anything to be one of them and to make you proud. You made me a better gymnast and you took the time to help me on my skills even though I was far from the best on the team. You are amazing at making everyone feel wanted and part of the family. And we truly were a family. I knew you had my back both in and out of the gym. On that note, I want to apologize for breaking your finger. You were spotting me on a back tuck dismount on the beam and I screwed up but you caught me anyway, and it ended up breaking your finger. I still feel awful about it to this day, so I just hope that it feels okay now. Anyway, I just want to thank you for everything you have taught me. I know I left the gym earlier than expected, but please know it was one of the hardest decisions of my life thus far. I was leaving my second home and a coach that I knew loved me and had my back. You are an amazing man Alan, and an amazing coach. I may not be able to do a kip or a backwalkover on the beam anymore, but I still have all of the life lessons you have taught me. I will never forget all the fun we had in Vegas and in Europe. You gave me opportunities I never thought I could have, and I am so thankful to have you in my life. Jessica Wilbanks

64: Dear Alan, I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for me over the many years I have known you. You have helped me to become the person I am today by challenging me and giving me endless opportunities to grow. There are so many memories with you that I will never forget, like the inside joke we have about apple juice. Or all the pranks you hired me to pull on the other coaches. You made gymnastics more than a sport for me. You made the team become a family. The way you ran both the high school and CARA teams made the connections between the girls different than any other team. You challenged us to meet new people and make life-long friends. You made the gym feel like a home to me because I always felt safe there. You gave me a job that helped me realize that I want to work with kids. You have helped turn girls into young ladies. Most importantly, you gave me an adult I that I could always go to. Whenever I think about what adults have made an impact on my life, you are at the top of the list. You taught me things about myself no one else could and saw qualities in me that no one else did. Although I was never the best gymnast, I always felt welcome on your team. The way you have impacted my life has inspired me to impact the lives of others. I can honestly say, I cannot imagine how my life would be if you had not been a part of it. I feel truly blessed to have you in my life. I will never forget all that you have done for me and all the good times we have shared. I can only hope that someday I will be able to impact as many lives as you have. You are truly an inspirational man! Love, Karli Somers

66: Alan, Thank you for everything you have done for me the past 6 years. Wow, I never realized how long it’s been. Feels like just a few months ago when I first came to high school practice, the really shy and quiet Asian girl. I look back on the 4 years of high school that I trained with you, and I’m always so thankful for you but also makes me so proud of myself for all that I’ve accomplished. I remember going up to you crying one day after practice, thinking I haven’t improved one bit. Looking back on it, that was so silly.. Freshman year of high school I only had a back tuck on floor, not even a kip on bars, a back-walk-over on beam, and a front-hand-spring vault. Not to mention, I never had to do any sort of jumps so wolf jumps, pike jumps, all that were new to me. And I’ve never competed before my freshman year! Then training with you I got to fulls/1-1/2 on floor, back-hand-springs and round off fulls off beam, tsuks on vault, and let’s face it bars didn’t improve much but I got snapbacks and was able to do a full routine without stopping! My only regret with my gymnastics career is that I didn’t come to you sooner. Seeing all that I accomplished in high school makes me wonder how good I could have been if I had been with you my whole life. You’ve not only taught me gymnastics, but you’ve helped turned me into the person I am today. I have so much determination in my life and I credit that to gymnastics. I know after everything I endured in my career, injuries, pain, triumphs, and hard work, that I have the ability to do anything I set my heart to. It was because of that determination that I came back and competed after my rehab. And even now in college when classes are hard and I want to give up on my dream of becoming a doctor, I know deep inside me that I have what it takes to make it there. You have sparked a fire in my life and I am so thankful to say the least. Thank you for being a great coach and father in my life. You’re the best! Lots of love, Sarina Tamura

70: Alan- I don't know how I can totally express my gratitude for everything you do. You have been an amazing mentor and friend to me over the years. I am so proud to be part of the programs you have built and the hundreds of girl's lives you have touched. Your character, integrity, passion and dedication radiates throughout the program and the girls in it. I want you to know I will forever attribute the majority of success in my career to you, the things you have taught me and the ways you have challenged me. You have given me opportunities I never could have dreamed of. I get to do something I love everyday because of you. I admire a lot of things about you, but most of all, it is your desire to teach these girls the lessons they need in life to be successful that I truly appreciate. Thank you for so many wonderful memories! Love, Lisa

71: Real joy comes not from ease or riches or from the praise of men, but from doing something worthwhile. Wilfred T. Grenfell | We relish news of our heroes, forgetting that we are extraordinary to somebody too. Helen Hayes

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  • By: Lisa S.
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  • Title: Modern Wedding
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  • Started: almost 5 years ago
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