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Forde focused to build on foundations

Photograph by Akil SimmonsFresh ideas: Forde, the new Bermuda gymnastics head coach takes part in a training exercise with nine-year-old Ella Tear at the National Training Centre in Southside

Adriana Forde has pledged to build on the foundations laid by her predecessor Duke Nelligan after being appointed as the Bermuda Gymnastics Association’s new head coach.

Forde has spent the past 16 years coaching at Gymnastics Energy, a non-profit organisation in St Catherines, Ontario, as well supporting the Cayman Islands Gymnastics Association’s programme as a volunteer.

The 32-year-old started her new job at the National Gymnastics Training Centre in St David’s on Monday and will work closely with Nelligan during the next few months while she transitions into the role.

She does not intend on making any sweeping changes and said she is simply aiming to “tighten up on any weaknesses and improve on the strengths” of the development programme established by Nelligan and his team of coaches.

“I’m really excited to come on board and there’s a great staff already in place,” Forde said. “I’m hoping everyone is very excited and devoted to continuing the current development and taking it to the next level.

“There will be a transition phase and my hope is to build on the current foundations. There aren’t any crazy plans and I’m coming in with fresh eyes.”

Forde said she was excited about working with the BGA’s present coaching team, which includes Maya Beckles, Magan Outerbridge and Kristen Heyliger.

Nelligan and his wife Chris, who has also been a BGA coach for the past six years, will return to Maryland as the couple have become grandparents for the first time. Also stepping down from her post is Mandi Baughman, who is moving to Virginia after serving as a BGA assistant coach since 2007.

“Duke and Mandi have been instrumental in making sure I have all I need at this point,” said Forde, who has previously visited the Island on vacation.

“The staff has been trained over the past few years and are confident and capable. They know the organisation and, most importantly, they know Bermuda.

“I hope to mentor, educate and develop this organisation as it is. If there are any little pockets that need filling then we absolutely have a lot of friends who are willing to send any support that we need, whether that’s through conference calls or whatever.

“We want to try and keep what’s great about this organisation and build with it.”

Forde was recommended to the BGA by Nelligan and Baughman who first met with the Canadian while she was assisting with the Cayman Island’s team at the Junior Pan Am Games in Aracaju, Brazil, in March, 2014.

“I’d previously had some conversations with Mandi and Duke and I assume that’s what led to them reaching out to me when the post became available,” Forde said.

“My life has been with one club, Gymnastics Energy, a very family-orientated club that works towards enhancing athletic and child development. Gymnastics can really build a foundation for everything in life, whether it’s trying to push through for a different sport or learning about discipline and perseverance.

“[Gymnastics Energy] were very big on that and I think that spoke a lot to Duke, Mandi and the BGA.”

Although Forde is just days into her new position, she has been impressed with the talent of the Island’s gymnasts, as well as the standard of the Southside training facility.

“The kids are great and open to trying new things,” she said. “We are going to be managing change to a certain extent and it’s great that they are open to that concept.

“The facility is great and Duke has done an amazing job in building it up to a more North American-style training centre. We want to make sure we’re feeding the whole Island with what it needs.”