Hery rebounds to teach the sport he loves
Gymnastics sensation George Hery Jr. is back at South Shore and he’s brought plenty of positivity and talent with him.
Hery, the new instructor at Tahoe Gymnastics, once dreamed of being an Olympic gymnast. An unfortunate change of fate flipped his priorities.
In August 1994, one week after his honeymoon, Hery was traveling to Blue Lakes with his wife, when another motorist fell asleep behind the wheel and crashed into their car.
“I couldn’t react fast enough,” Hery said. “We were following my dad to Blue Lakes. I guess the woman had fallen asleep and she was coming straight for him. He swerved out of the way and I tried but I couldn’t react fast enough. My dad said she hit my side then bounced off a tree and hit me again.”
A broken rib, bruised lung and torn ligaments in his knee were just a few of the injuries Hery suffered. With the world championships only a month away, his chances were ruined.
“It took a long time for me to heal,” said Hery, now 32. “I lost about six months of training. But I was lucky. My knee doesn’t bother me anymore, but it was an uphill struggle.”
Hery recently decided to stop competing and focus his attention on coaching.
“I love coaching. That’s the best part of this job,” said Hery, who spent three years coaching at Gymnastics Nevada, the gym he and his father own in Reno. “You get to teach kids. You get to affect their lives.
“There’re not enough positive influences in this world, so if I can be that for someone, that’s a lot better reward than money. The only way you can make money in gymnastics is if you win the gold medal.”
Hery’s father, George Hery Sr., who used to own and operate GAD Gym, encouraged him to take up gymnastics.
“He has just been such a major influence in my life. My dad has owned gyms since I can remember,” Hery said. “But I got a late start. I competed in trampoline when I was 12.
I came in ninth at the world championships, but I became interested in (other events) at 14.”
Late start maybe, but Hery made up for lost time.
“I trained at this gym (Tahoe Gymnastics), with Stoyan Delchev for a while. He won the gold in 1980 on the high bar. I learned a lot about coaching and about training from him.”
Hery also trained in Utah under Makato Sakamoto, who coached the U.S. Men’s Gymnastics Team at the 1984 Olympics.
Gold Cup Gymnastics in New Mexico is also on Hery’s list, where he practiced with Ed Burch, the assistant coach for the 1996 U.S. Men’s Team.
Between training sessions and coaching classes, Hery found time to perform in shows across the United States.
“I did some shows with Kurt Thomas at Busch Gardens in Virginia and at Paramount’s Great America in North Carolina,” he said.
Now fully recovered from the accident, Hery just finished a 10-month theater production at the Reno Hilton.
“It was called Night Beat,” he said. “I did high bar and routines on the floor.”
Even though he’ll never be an Olympic gold medalist, Hery puts as much heart into his sport as ever and even more into helping others learn it.
“I never get frustrated about (the accident) because I’ve gained so much just by training and coaching.
“My main goal now is to provide a nice home for my family,” said Hery of 9-year-old son Josh and wife Stephanie, who is expecting another baby.
“And I want to give back to the sport that gave me so much. I know I have the ability to take any gymnast as far as they want to go. That’s what this is about. They get to set goals here.”
Hery coaches at Tahoe Gymnastics, located at 867 Eloise Ave.
For information, call (530) 544-7314.
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