Meet the Gymnastics Staff
Jamie Lapke, Gymnastics Manager
Jamie began gymnastics at the age of 4, eventually becoming a top performer for the Chicago Park District’s Avondale Park Level 5 competitive team. Subsequently, Jamie competed in the USAG program through Level 9 and retired after competing at Level 9 Regional Championships. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University with a degree in secondary physical education and began working at Chicago Park District’s Merrimac Park, where a large part of her work involved teaching tumbling and gymnastics, and she developed a top ranking competitive team for the park. Jamie joined the gymnastics staff of the Park District of Oak Park in 1994 and became Program Director in 2004. Jamie is USAG Safety Certified, is a USAG Professional member, and is instructor certified and a KAT (preschool) instructor.
Keith Kerrigan, CPRP, Gymnastics Program & Operations Supervisor
Keith will take on a new position as Program & Operations Supervisor. His responsibility will include overseeing the daily operation of the GRC, planning for programs and coaching all levels of the boys USAG Team. He comes to us from the Chicago Park District where he has worked for the past 9 ½ years. He started out as a Gymnastics Instructor and has been a Gymnastics Supervisor since 2009. As a supervisor he oversaw 6 gymnastics center programs, staff and special events. He is looking forward to working for the Park District of Oak Park at the GRC because of his passion for teaching children. His goals include developing relationships with families, developing staff and successful gymnastics programs and building a rapport with the community.
Tanya Chmielewski, Principal Coach and Program Specialist
Tanya is a USAG Women’s Artistic Professional member who coaches pre-school, recreational and competitive team gymnastics. Tanya started working for Oak Park Gymnastics Center in 2003. She spent 10 years as a child competing as an all-around gymnast in the USAG program and reached the level of Class I. She first coached both recreational and competitive gymnastics in Southern California for over 6 years before moving to Illinois. She has also danced professionally for over 12 years and uses her dance experience to create original floor routines for the optional girls’ team. Tanya also judges competitive levels 2 – 10 as a member of the National Association of Women’s Gymnastics.
Darion Knight, Principal Coach & Program Specialist
Darion Knight comes to us from the Chicago Park District where he coached all levels of youth gymnastics for the past ten years. Darion coached several gymnasts to state and national level competitions. Before beginning his coaching career, Darion was an accomplished gymnast himself. He finished his competitive career at the Elite Level. Darion is a certified USAG mens judge. He is a professional member of USA Gymnastics as well as Safety Certified.
Daria Disch, Principal Coach & Program Specialist
She began her gymnastics career at the age of 3 and started competing when 9 at Tri-Star Gymnastics Center. She went on to compete USAG up to level 8 and then joined the OPRF HS gymnastics team for 4 years and graduated in 2005. She is also CPR and First Aid certified.
Although she has stopped training, she still loves the sport which is why she is now coaching. She finds the job to be extremely rewarding and loves having fun with all the kids. She has begun her full-time career at the GRC since June 2016.
Maya Jackson, Part-Time Coach
Maya graduated from OFRF HS and she came to the GRC with 12 years of gymnastics experience as a gymnast at Tri-Star Gymnastics.
Maya's work experience includes waitressing and coaching basketball where she has learned to work with a diverse population. She is certified in CPR/AED and First Aid. In addition, she earned the Favorite and Most Trusted Coach Award.
Alek Pederson, Part-Time Coach
Alek started his gymnastics career at the GRC when he was the ripe old age of 4 years old. His hard work paid off when he was asked to join the Boy's Competitive Team in the Fall of 2001. Alek remained on the team for the next 6 years retiring as a Level 7.
Alek's work experience includes The Wednesday Journal were he worked as both a paper sorter and mail room attendant and a bike/facility attendant at RCRC.
In addition to gymnastics, he enjoys film, graphic design, football and making music.
Cuffey Roberson, Part-Time Coach
Cuffey has a very diverse background revolving around athletics. He has worked at the Tennis and Fitness Center in Oak Park for 15 years as well as FFC as a personal trainer. Most recently he coached preschool through Level 7 team at Tri-Star Gymnastics.
Cuffey has wrestled and played football, basketball and LaCrosse. His first experience with gymnastics was as a coach at Tri-Star where he realized his passion for the sport and his love of coaching kids.
As a peer advisor, he received numerous humanitarian awards. He was Linebacker of the Year, Team Captain (football), was inducted into the Midstates Semi Pro League Hall of Fame. He also holds the following certifications; USAG Safety and Instructor Certification, CPR and First Aid Certification and ACE Personal Training Certification.
He is a graduate of OPRF HS, a US Marine and a massage therapist.
In his spare time he enjoys football, education, music production, gardening, home improvement and bicycling.
Rachel Inksetter, Part-Time Coach
Rachel's gymnastics career as a gymnast herself was with the Park District of Oak Park. She was a gymnast for 8 years and part of the GIJO team. Rachel is a graduate of OPRF HS and is currently attending Triton College. She is a USAG instructor member and is certified in First Aid and CPR/AED. Her favorite class to teach at the GRC is Tumbling and Trampoline.
Paris Claiborne, Part-Time Coach
Paris is very familiar with the GRC as she is a former USAG team member. She left the GRC to continue her training at Lakeshore Academy in Chicago. When she was a Level 9, she decided to stop training and focus on school and other interests. She was a competitive cheerleader for the Huskies at OPRF HS.
In addition to doing gymnastics herself, she has experience as an Assistant Coach at Mr. Ernie's Flip Flop & Fly in Maywood. She is a member of the National Society of High School Scholars, an AAU National Team Member (2007) as well as a USAG Level 7 State Champion.
Natalie Smith, Part-Time Coach
Natalie has been involved in gymnastics she was a child. She joined the Sokol Lodge 306 in Chicago in 2010 and competed in Novice, Supernovice, and Level 1. She previously worked as an assistant coach with tots, girls 5-11, boys 5-11, and Junior Girls in the lower levels. Her current dream is to become the next Oksana Chusivitina.
Natalie’s accomplishments in gymnastics include winning gold for her age and level as well as receiving the Frankie Kajari Achievement Award through Sokol Lodge 306 in 2014.
Natalie has an educational background as a Social Worker and has earned her MSW from the University of Chicago. She also has her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Washington College in Maryland. She previously worked on a crisis hotline with the National Runaway Switchboard for 10 years and also worked with MSW students at UIC. She previously worked for a year with 4 year olds at a preschool. When she’s not teaching at the GRC, she works a nanny and babysits.
Linus Shaw, Assistant Coach
Linus began gymnastics at the GRC when he was 5 years old in the preschool program and continued until he retired as a USAG Level 8 on the Boys' Team in 2014.
He has played trombone in the marching band, pole vaulted on the track team and played soccer for OPRF HS. In addition to his athletic talents, he has earned the Woody Herman Jazz Award and the Emerging Scholar in English award.
We are happy to have him back at the GRC as a coach and are sure the kids will benefit from his experiences and friendly personality.
Staff Contact Information