The Mountain Times

Ā°F Sun, April 20, 2014

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Coach Shelby Jones instills confidence, perseverance and motivation in young Rutland gymnasts

RUTLAND - Tears sometimes well up in Shelby Jones' eyes when she speaks of her students accomplishments. Having been a dancer herself since age three and gymnast since age 10, as well as a competitive snowboarder and diver, Jones knows the hard work it takes to succeed. She also knows the adage "once you fall down, you just have to get back up" to be true. Jones now passes on not only skills but also such life lessons to younger generations at Cobra Gymnastics and Dance Center in Rutland.

After leaving her home state of Massachusetts in 1993, Jones traveled for almost a decade in the Rocky and Cascade Mountains. While gaining experience working in many gyms throughout the country she was inspired to open a gym of her own. In 2003 she settled in Rutland and, after the birth of her third child, Jones decided the time had come to make her aspiration become a reality.

In 2010, Cobra Gymnastics and Dance Center was born. The 6,500 square foot facility welcomes kids as young as 18-months-old through adulthood. With 19 instructors, Coach Jones now offers the community a wide range of activities. The gymnastics program includes summer camps, open gyms, aerial, pre-school, recreation, tumbling and competitive team classes.  The dance studio offers classes in yoga, Middle Eastern & African dance, NIA and circus.

Jones says she strives to build all athletes toward success with positive and healthy methods; to build their confidence, motivation and perseverance to become successful in life, she explains. Many have witnessed precisely such accomplishments.

"Cobra's competitive gymnastics team has given my daughter the confidence she needed to believe she truly is and can be a strong athlete," said parent Shannon Baldwin. "She's always been little in body for her age, but now sees herself as strong and powerful despite others first impressions. Ashleigh has learned to work hard, stay focused, with determination and perseveranceā€¦ it is very rewarding, not by the many medals she's won, but by the self-confidence and self-esteem she now has."

Another parent, Heidi E. Conway, was also please with her daughters experience and skills. "My daughter could not do a cartwheel when she started and is now full of confidence and on the Cobra Gymnastics Team!" Conway said. "She is not only thriving, but also placed first in the State gymnastics meet; much like most of the other Cobra Team girls. Cobra has definitely changed my daughter's life."



Photo by Erin Bellomo

On June 8 and 9, nine Cobra gymnasts competed in the Regional Championship at the 2013 Xcel Champions Invitational in Boxboro, Mass. Gymnasts came from Rhode Island, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont to compete on the vault, bars, floor and balance beam.

Cobra's team, Xcel Gold, took home third place which included 8-12 year old girls. Jenna Sunderland scored 32.825, Ana Aguilar scored 34.175 and Sarah Ferrera (the current VT State Champion of the Gold level Xcel team on the vault) scored 34.950.
Cobra's second team, Xcel Silver, comprised of 8-10 year old's brought home fourth place. Clara Johnson scored 34.100, Taylor Catrini scored 32.925, Kiara Lapenna scored 33.525 and Katie Haas scored 32.800

Xcel Gold for age 13 and up included Emma Steenbergen who scored 34.325.

Gymnast Sarah Ferrera took sixth place in the floor routine and also ninth place all-around.

Mollie Giancola, who competed as an individual, scored 32.950.

Earlier in the season at the Vermont State Championships, Mia Marsh took the title of Bronze All-Around Champion, ages 6-7.

Marsh, winning the entire meet in her age division, was perhaps the biggest accomplishment for a Cobra athlete this year.

Jones is a compassionate instructor who instills confidence, perseverance and motivation. She may not build an Olympian in the gym, but building positive character is certainly an Olympic achievement.

For more information on Cobra's teams, dance center, events, and results, visit