Coaches don’t just build great teams … they build great people, too.
At least the truly great ones do.
Chet Snouffer was one of those coaches. Olentangy Berlin head gymnastics coach Jen Hedrick is another. Just ask her peers, who recently voted her the 2020 OHSAA Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity (SEI) Award winner. She was recognized for the honor at the Gymnastics State Tournament last Friday at Hilliard Bradley.
“I coach with some pretty amazing coaches, not only in the district, but also the state,” Hedrick said. “Knowing that a group of people I respect thought I was deserving of the Sportsmanship, Ethics and Integrity Award feels pretty amazing.”
She’s the first area gymnastics coach to win the award since 1999 … when Snouffer won it.
Today, most people in Delaware know Snouffer as a world boomerang champion and founder of the Jungle Gymnastics Adventure Center. Years ago, though, he was head gymnastics coach at just about all the high schools in the county, including Delaware Hayes.
One of his gymnasts at Hayes was none other than Hedrick, whose relationship with Snouffer started well before high school.
“I started doing gymnastics with Chet when I was about four years old,” Hedrick said. “In middle school I also started coaching for Chet and continued through high school.
“Chet’s like family,” she added. “My 10th birthday I had a boomerang party where he made boomerangs for my friends to paint and then taught us how to throw them. I would help him sell boomerangs at art festivals and also babysit his kids.”
The only thing that separated the two for an extended period of time was college. After Hedrick graduated, though, she returned to Central Ohio and continued to keep in touch.
“When I helped open Central Ohio Gymnastics in Delaware, Chet was the first person I called,” Hedrick said. “I wanted him to know we would work together and support each other, not compete against each other. Chet has come to my classroom (Hedrick currently teaches first grade at Arrowhead Elementary) and spoken with my classes and we continue to be a resource for each other when it comes to our gymnastics businesses.”
Gymnastics, in some ways, is a job for Hedrick. When she’s not teaching, she coaches and runs her business. It started as a love, though … a love Snouffer helped create.
“The biggest thing Chet taught me was to love gymnastics,” Hedrick said. “We grew up in an atmosphere were there wasn’t a lot of pressure and we had fun while we learned new skills.”
She’s still keeping things fun … and that fun has come with a ton of success as well. Before making her way to Berlin, Hedrick was the first coach for the Olentangy Orange gymnastics program. While there, the Pioneers won a conference title and she was named OCC Coach of the Year twice. Hedrick was an assistant coach for Olentangy and Olentangy Liberty before taking over at Orange, and spent four years heading up the Westerville North gymnastics team prior to that.
This year, Hedrick’s Bears finished seventh in the state with a score of 140.000 in the team competition.
Olivia Boone had some of Berlin’s best performances. She finished tied for 15th in the floor exercise and tied for 23rd on the balance beam. She was 23rd in the all-around competition. Stephanie Balthaser was solid as well, finishing tied for 18th overall on the bars. Other Bears who competed included Demera Harrison, Elise Hedrick, Alex Hinton, Kennedy Jesenovec, Megan McGuire and Madison Nietfeld.
“I was lucky enough to be blessed with a group of girls who came to me with incredible talent,” Hedrick said. “I didn’t have four solid girls, I had eight that stepped up when it was needed. I also had 10 other girls working hard right alongside the top eight. What is interesting is that I remember Chet often saying the same thing about our group of gymnasts when we were competing.”
Like Snouffer before her, Hedrick said she’s just one of many coaches encouraging gymnasts to be the best they can be, whether it be in a competition or everyday life.
“The high school gymnastics community is such a special group of people,” she said. “Most of us are just here to help all gymnasts be the best they can be.”