Plano Parks & Recreation received a special honor from the Gymnastics Association of Texas earlier this month when it presented its Service to Youth Award to Recreation Services Superintendent Susie Hergenrader.
The award is given to those who have made a positive impact on the lives of young gymnasts over a significant period of time and who is not a coach or program director.
Truth be told, gymnastics has been a part of Susie’s life since she, too, was a child. Having competed for the University of Arizona Women’s Gymnastics Team from 1978-1981, Susie then moved to Plano, where she was hired in 1981 as supervisor for the city’s Aerobats Gymnastics program. She grew the program from 80 kids to more than 600 participants during her 31-year tenure as head of the program.
In 2004, she began working part-time at the World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) and managed their recreational gymnastics program until 2011. The mother of three even went back to school during this time and earned her Master’s Degree and PhD in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Dallas.
In 2012, Susie was promoted to Recreation Services Superintendent for Plano Parks & Recreation. She is still very connected to the sport, and in 2014 she earned the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation (TAAF) Service Award for her years of dedication to improving TAAF Gymnastics.
Today, Plano Parks & Recreation’s Aerobats program is stronger than it’s ever been thanks in part to Susie’s passion, which enabled thousands of kids to be touched by her instruction over the years. In fact, many grow up and find their way back to the mat to serve as instructors and/or bring their own children through the program, something Aerobats supervisor Vickie Hamrick said is a testament to Susie’s positive influence.
Susie also helped Vickie develop new Aerobats programs, such as Kids Night Out With a Twist, Tot Gymnastics, and a Boy’s Gymnastics class for three and four year olds.
“Susie is the true backbone of Plano Aerobats. Parents and grandparents still speak fondly of their memories of Susie’s coaching days,” Vickie said. “She loves children and truly has made an impact on a lot of youth here in Plano. Her passion for gymnastics still stands out among the gymnastics community in the Metroplex.”
Way to go, Susie! For more information about our Aerobats program, visit www.planoparks.org.