HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WANTED: A 5,000-square-foot space with a minimum ceiling height of 26 feet for an Ottawa trampoline club that has been shut down for almost a year.
You won’t find that classified ad in your local newspaper, but it is indeed a real need for the Spring Action Trampoline Centre.
Sean McManus and Heather Ross-McManus, the husband-and-wife owners of the 30-year-old club, posted a notice on their website last December that they were closing their Ottawa east location at 5515 Canotek Road and stopping all programs.
They couldn’t come to an agreement with the landlord about a new lease during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the club was experiencing a series of closures and openings for health and safety reasons.
“We could have fought to hang on,” Ross-McManus said. “The building had been sold and the landlord wanted us to commit to a five-year lease. We said let’s take a break.”
A long-term lease during a 20-month pandemic, which has no definite end in sight, wasn’t the right direction for Ross-McManus, a 2004 Olympian in the trampoline discipline of gymnastics, and McManus, who formerly coached his wife and was a Canadian synchronized trampoline champion.
The notice also mentioned they were “actively looking for a new space,” and encouraged their supporters to let them know about any leads or suggestions for a new venue.
Almost a year after packing their trampoline equipment into four large storage containers, they haven’t received any concrete proposals for a future home.
Their seven trampolines and a double mini trampoline are packed in three containers and the pieces of foam are in another container. It’s all stored on their property in Mississippi Mills, ON.
Once the pandemic reaches a point where they feel they want to revive the Spring Action Trampoline Centre, they will look again for a 5,000-square-foot space with 26-foot ceilings or possibly build their own venue.
“We’re still looking for the right location and ceiling height,” Ross-McManus added. “We’ll be ready to move. We’d love to have our own building.”
During its three decades of trampoline instruction and coaching, Spring Action has had three venues. It originally opened in 1991 in the Carling Avenue and Kirkwood Avenue neighbourhood before moving to the former Jewish Community Centre of Ottawa building on Chapel Street in Lowertown, and then a mall on Canotek Road.
In the meantime, Sean has been coaching the Spring Action competitive team three times a week in rented space at Club de Gymnastique Les Sittelles on Taylor Creek Drive, while Ross-McManus has been coaching freestyle skiers at Laws of Motion on Gladwin Crescent.
During the break, Ross-McManus gravitated to the sport of freestyle skiing as her three sons are highly involved in the daring winter sport. Quin is on the Ontario team for slopestyle (park and pipe), Darren is a member of the Ontario development squad for moguls, and Gavin is on the Fortune Freestyle competitive team for slopestyle (park and pipe).
Ross-McManus has joined the staff of Freestyle Ontario as its high-performance director. An international judge in trampoline, she also has become a judge in freestyle skiing.
She finds it inspiring to work with next-generation athletes, who have the potential to make the national team. But she also would like to return to coaching trampoline in her own club environment.
Life without a home for Spring Action definitely is a major change.
“There are some benefits, some trials,” Ross-McManus said. “When you coach that long, you get tired sometimes, but the break has made us realize how much we like it.
“You help people realize their goals. That makes us appreciate that and want to continue.”
And one more thing.
“We get to eat dinner more often together,” she said with a little laugh.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.