Tawnita has been a dancer from the age of 3 when her mother was her teacher and began gymnastics at the age of 10. She continued gymnastics at Olathe High School as their top All Around. She went on to receive a gymnastics scholarship as a Collegiate Gymnast at Washburn University as an All Around, graduating in 1981 Magna Cum Lada with a degree in Physical Education with a dance emphasis. While at Washburn, Tawnita also received a dance scholarship and the Outstanding Choreographer Award for her work there. Tawnita began teaching gymnastics and dance at the age of 14 and continued to teach at Topeka Gymnastics Club during her college years.
Richard began his gymnastics coaching career in January 1979 when he started work with Topeka Gymnastics Club and the Washburn Collegiate Gymnastics Team. Rich and Tawnita met through his work with the college Team and the rest was history =) Richard has a degree in Business & Recreation. The two owned Augustino’s Pizza for 21 years so Rich flipped Pizzas by day and gymnasts by Night!
FHSU years: Rich and Tawnita forged a coaching team in 1981 when they became the co-head coaches for Ft. Hays State University. During this time the team grew to become a powerhouse in the NAIA and later in NCAA II Gymnastics. They produced numerous National Champions and top finishers as well as top 3 finishes at the regional & national level. They continued to co-coach until FHSU dropped the program in May 1990. In addition to coaching gymnastics Tawnita also served as Head Coach for the FHSU cheer squad and choreographer at the same time.
Tiger Gymnastics & High Plains Gymnastics: While coaching the FHSU collegiate Team Rich & Tawnita also ran a recreational & competition program for kids starting in 1983 until 1990.
Heartland Gymnastics & Cheer was born in the fall of 1990. In the beginning Heartland had both a girls & boys competition team as well as recreational gymnastics. They have been serving young kids for 27 years. During this time they produced numerous National All Around Champions and many event champions as well as District Champions.
During this time, in addition to the gymnastics academy, Tawnita owned Heartland Dance Studio for 18 years, teaching Dance & Gymnastics.
Tawnita is currently the choreographer for the Hays High Music Department, working with the HHS musicals as well as the chamber Singers, Full Chord Press and Jr. high choirs. since 1993.
It is their love for both gymnastics and dance paired with their love of teaching children that keeps them both involved in this beautiful sport. It has been a family affair with both of their children, Bryce & Kylee following in their footsteps in both competition and coaching. They truly love what they do and love teaching young kids the values you get from doing gymnastics: Strength, flexibility, discipline, self esteem.
Sarah Nattier – Office Manager, been with Heartland since May of 2010
Most of our coaches are FHSU or Hays High Students, all with much experience in the art of Gymnastics, Dance and cheer, both recreational and competitive!!