Former gymnast talks flipping roles to coach and business owner

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COLUMBIA — Goal-setting may seem like a tedious job but for many it’s what helps keep them focused on accomplishing tasks, both short and long term.

Authority Gymnastics and Cheer owner Shari Mann said she can attest to this.

Mann said goal-setting is what took her from being “too old” to start gymnastics at the age of nine to being on the 1981 Gymnastics World Championship team.

“Gymnastics is such a great sport. It teaches you agility, strength, basics...but it also teaches you to prioritize,” Mann said.

Mann teaches her gymnasts the sport goes well beyond tumbling and performing a perfect floor routine.

 “We have a lot of gymnasts who are in the gym for more than 12 hours a week,” she said. “So they need to know that schoolwork comes first. They have to know to do their school work.”

It’s education that got Mann to where she in now. She attended Arizona State University on a full-ride scholarship for gymnastics and graduated with a degree in elementary education. Mann said she knows a lot of her gymnasts come in to her gym with the goal of wanting to go to the Olympics but education is her first priority.

“You know they only pick five gymnasts out of the United States to go to the Olympics and so I think a more reasonable goal is to get a college scholarship,” she explained. “There's a greater likelihood that these gymnasts will get a college scholarship.”

Even though Mann’s goal is to get her gymnasts off to college, she said she still has plenty of time to prep her team before they reach that level.

“We tried to just grow our own and that takes a little while,” she said.

Authority Gymnastics and Cheer has been open for six years.

“We started from scratch, we decided to build our own gym as well as gymnasts. So we didn't take other gymnasts from other clubs,” Mann added.

Mann’s gymnastic team has a slight advantage when it comes to preparation because she is one of the top judges for gymnastics in the country.

“I have an international Brevet rating. I'm one of 40 judges in the states that has that rating. We are the only judges that can judge nationally,” she said.

One of the people included on the roster of people she has judged is 2008 Olympic All-Around Champion Gabby Douglas.

Even though her goal is to train up her gymnasts to be as great and as well-rounded as they can be Mann said it’s what’s not in her job description that matters most.

“My job is to build these kids up. I am all about positive self-esteem and positive coaching and I think I'm their biggest cheerleader. I tell everybody that they're a star.”