Local gymnast enters regional hall of fame
By Jake Keator
The Daily Reflector
Sunday, June 3, 2018
Darlene Rose, who has been a part of gymnastics in some form, whether it be competing or coaching, since the early 60’s, is now being recognized for her help in growing the sport throughout the Southeast.
Rose, owner of Rose’s Gymnastics in Greenville, has been selected to be enshrined in the Region 8 Gymnastics Hall of Fame during the meeting of the Region 8 Congress June 8-10 in Winston-Salem, NC. The region consists of North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi.
When she learned of her award, Rose was surprised.
“I don’t know the exact reason I was chosen. I've put in a lot of time and a lot of energy and service for the region,” she said. “I was surprised. I know we do it every year. I really kind of thought, ‘It’s not like I've had Olympians, national champions or anything like that.’ But I noticed the last several times they've chosen people it was those who have put in a lot of time to growing the sport in the region.”
Rose began gymnastics when she was in the eighth grade in Lancaster, Pa. She later competed in college at West Chester University from 1968-72, and there she met her husband, John.
After graduating with a degree in health and physical education, she stayed in central Pa. to teach physical education at Garden Spot High School in New Holland in 1972. While there, she coached girls gymnastics, teaching others the skills she had worked to refine her entire life. Her teaching took hold on her gymnasts, and she coached one student to an all-around state title in 1974.
In 1976, Rose and her husband moved to Springfield, Mo., where she continued to coach by becoming an assistant with Missouri State University’s women’s gymnastics program. She also earned a Masters of Art in Teaching Physical Education in 1979.
A job search by her husband led the couple to Greenville, where John coached the East Carolina gymnastics team. Darlene looked for a new way to expand the sport she loved throughout the region, and she decided it was time to open her own venture. Rose’s Gymnastics officially opened its doors in 1979.
“We rented a facility right down on Fire Tower Road,” Rose said. “It was Carolina Country Day Church at the time. We rented the gymnasium. We would go in at about 2 or 2:30 p.m. and start setting up all of the gymnastics equipment. I had some of my own plus (ECU) had some they let us use.”
She continued to host classes at the church until 1981, when she then brought the program onto ECU’s campus in Christenbury Gym due to space constraints and time constraints based around her husband’s university schedule and raising two young children.
“The school asked if i would like to bring it onto the university campus so that physical education majors could have hands-on or field experience,” Rose said.
The program continued to be a success. Rose hosted nearly 350 students in her program. She knew that the space on ECU’s campus had become too small for the influx of students she had then come to teach. She once again took her business private, opening a new location in a barn off of 10th Street.
Parents and students took notice, as her membership jumped from 350 to nearly 700. Once again space became an issue until a lucky break landed her an opportunity to once again secure space.
“I remember one of my student’s parents was the head of a bank,” Rose said. “He told me, ‘Let’s look at the options and what you have and make it work.’ So he showed me how to purchase the facility and put the land up as collateral, and we built phase one of our current facility.”
In 1995, Rose’s Gymnastics moved from its 10th Street location to its new 17,000-square foot home on Old Fire Tower Road, where it remains today. The program now exceeds 1,000 students.
The construction continued in 2003, when another 6,000 square feet was added to the facility. The business added another building in 2012, which now serves as the location for after-school and summer camp activities.
Rose understands that gymnastics is not for everyone, but she urges young people to give it a shot as a way to stay healthy and active.
“My goal is to have them come in and see how fun it is,” she said. “It helps them move and be active and then stay active. I don’t care what they do — play tennis, go swimming, run, but don’t sit around looking at a screen.”
Rose has no plans of slowing down. She said she wants to continue to grow her business and introduce the sport of gymnastics to others in Greenville and the surrounding communities.
Contact Jake Keator at email@example.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @JakeKeatorDR on Twitter.