Jon Mason is a big believer in the value of sports for kids.
And not simply for the physical or competitive benefits they provide.
The head coach of the men’s gymnastics program at the Okanagan Gymnastics Centre, Jon strives to help his students to become better athletes but, more importantly, to help them develop into well-rounded people.
“I’ve always believed it’s important to get kids involved in sports and keep them involved,” Jon says. “It keeps them off the streets and doing something they can grow from.
“It’s not just a sport to me. I find 70 per cent is about teaching them life skills, things like respect, manners and a good work ethic. Sport is beneficial in so many ways and I’m glad I can put my experiences to good use in doing that.”
A former competitive gymnast who spent part of his youth in the Czech Republic, Jon came to OGC last year from Delta Gymnastics, where he was named B.C. Gymnastics coach of the year.
Since taking over in Kelowna in the summer of 2015, the men’s artistic program has enjoyed a resurgence, growing from six to 20 members in the last year.
Under Jon’s guidance, OGC is also achieving unprecedented success for their male competitors, with several medals being won at regional, provincial and national events.
“In the past year, the boys have realized massive growth and incredible success under Jon’s leadership,” said Shauna Nyrose, a parent of one of Jon’s athletes, Jack. “He goes above and beyond for his kids.”
Leaving his job in Delta and coming to Kelowna may have been a bit of a career risk, but Jon is finding life in the Okanagan much more to this liking.
“I was brought up in the country, so I just found Vancouver was too big for me,” he says. “Every time I came here I just fell in love with the place. The gym here is much smaller, but I really like the club and really enjoy coaching these boys.”
Since joining OGC, Jon has maintained relationships with gyms on the Lower Mainland, organizing several weekend road trips for his athletes to train with other B.C. gymnasts and coaches.