60 Seconds With Cricket Shelnutt
by Clay Neely
When did you first start working in Coweta County?
1980. I was 17 years old and was an Olympic weightlifter and worked out at the (Coweta) rec department and that’s where the gymnastics program was at the time. I would go in and watch the kids work out before I worked out. The coach asked me to help spot the kids one day. After a few days, she asked me if I wanted a part-time job that didn’t pay. I said “sure.” After eight weeks she asked me, “Do you want to get paid?” I said, “You bet.’’ I eventually opened Newnan School of Gymnastics in October of 1988 and have been expanding ever since.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of what you do?
Teaching the kids that not only can they do well athletically, they can overcome their fears and other obstacles. When I was young, I wanted to have nothing but Olympians but I realized that there is more to it than just athletic performance.
What is your proudest accomplishment to date?
I have so many. I view my personal accomplishments with the students as being bigger than my business accomplishments. I’ve had kids go to national championships. I’ve had kids get scholarships. I’ve had students I taught when they were young who eventually brought their own children to me. I think that’s a testament unto itself.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
When I first went to college, I wanted to be a pharmacist. After two years of coaching gymnastics, I realized that I want to do this. I don’t know what I’d be doing. I still love it today as when I first started. Even with my body aches from the spotting I do, I wouldn’t change a thing and I hope I’m able to do it until they wheel me off.