Date: August 30, 2006
About: Jacob Huff - Class of 2002
"Gym Rats" Take On New Venture
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
H-W Photo/ Michael Kipley Gem City Gymnastics and Tumbling owners Zeke Cernea, left, and Jacob Huff have bought the former Quincy Gymnastics Center along with fellow partner Jeff Bunch.
By Kelly Wilson
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Jacob Huff and Zeke Cernea are self-proclaimed "gym rats" who basically grew up at the Quincy Gymnastics Center. They even call founder Randy Parrish a "father figure."
Now, the two are taking their passion for gymnastics and tumbling to a new level.
Huff, 22, and Cernea, 19, both of Quincy, along with business partner Jeff Bunch, recently bought the business from Parrish and renamed it Gem City Gymnastics and Tumbling.
"We're pumped," Cernea said as he sat in the gym at 2010 Jennifer Lane earlier this week.
His enthusiasm is matched by best friend Huff, who is grateful to Parrish for "passing the torch" and says he can't imagine being involved in any other career field.
"You know when there's something you want to do," he said.
"This gym is our life," Cernea added. "It's what we do."
Cernea and Huff will share head coaching duties, while Bunch will handle the business side of the gym. Parrish will continue to be a member of the coaching staff.
The new owners are making some changes.
"The most noticeable changes will be an expanded Pro Shop featuring gymnastic, tumbling, dance and cheer items, a new Tubmle Trak, and the brand new exercise mat which will be bright red instead of blue," Huff said.
"The impact of that when you walk in the gym is huge. It has a whole new look now," Cernea said.
The two have plans to grow their programs, which include tumbling and gymnastics classes for various ages and competitive tumbling and gymnastics teams.
Huff says about 200 gymnasts and tumblers are involved now, and the goal is to double that amount by the end of the year.
They hope the program grows enough that they'll need to expand the current 16,000-square-foot facility, which has been the Quincy Gymnastics' home for 10 years.
"We also want to get out in the community more and do more exhibitions," Cernea said.
He says he wants parents to know that their children will learn more than a new sport by attending classes.
"The values they learn here, they use it in everyday life," Cernea said. "They learn respect, work ethic, responsibility, team work."
Cernea and Huff have extensive gymnastics and tumbling backgrounds from years of training at Quincy Gymnastics. Huff started out at age 3, and Cernea at age 8.
Huff is a two-time national gymnastics champion and Cernea was a tumbling national champion. Both began teaching when they were 15 and have coached athletes to regional, state and national titles.
"They're both phenomenal coaches and phenomenal personalities," Bunch said.
Parrish started Quincy Gymnastics in December 1982 and, after more than 23 years, decided to turn over the reins of the business so he could spend more time with his wife and family.
He says it's nice to teach at the facility and then go home without worrying about the business side of things.
He says selling the business also will give him time to enjoy other endeavors such as running a summer gymnastics camp in Tennessee with two Olympians, and presenting seminars. He also teaches physical education for Quincy Public Schools.
"I'm thrilled to death," he said, adding that the gym is in good hands.
"They're like my own sons," he said of Huff and Cernea. "I had the opportunity to sell to buyers out of town, but I want it to be a family-type business, not a corporate business.
"They have some great ideas on how to improve the facility and they have a great work ethic," Parrish said. "They're very dedicated to what they're doing. I'm really proud of them and proud to work here with them."
For information about Gem City Gymnastics and Tumbling, including class schedules, go to http://gemcity-gymnastics-and-tumbling.com or call (217) 224-8491.
The fall schedules released in an August mailing under the Quincy Gymnastics name are valid for the upcoming year.
Contact Staff Writer Kelly Wilson
at email@example.com or (217) 221-3391