The Irish Amateur Gymnastics Association was founded in 1964. Traditionally in Ireland, gymnastics was part of training in the Army. In the early 1990s, when people were high on hairspray and had an unusual tendency towards wearing leotards anyway, the UCC Trampoline club had its first incarnation. An ex-military gymnast, Herbie Hendrick (Indoor Sports Winner,1982), opened the Mayfield Gymnastics Club in the early 70s and later started coaching trampolining in UCC. The club was one of the first trampoline-only clubs in the country, a trend started by the Universities. From its humble beginnings in the old sports hall, Lee Maltings, what is today the Tyndall National Institute, the UCCTC remained largely recreational and fun. Some competitions were held with other Universities, but these were largely fun-filled and taken none-too seriously. It did not help at the time that UCCTC was the only trampoline club in Munster. It also did not help that the old sports hall had a ceiling height of about 20 feet, which, to anyone who has bounced on a trampoline, is very low indeed. The old sports hall became the University’s Drama Studio in 2001/2, and boasted a very decrepit trampoline lurking in the corner, together with telltale holes in the ceiling, until its redevelopment as the Tyndall National Institute in the 2007-8 period.
Meanwhile, The Mardyke Arena was constructed in 2001/2, and the trampolines and a trampette were, with great difficulty, moved the distance down the road to their new home. With vastly increased ceiling height came increased jump height. This, along with a greater focus on coach education which began in the late nineties, led to a period of great development for the club which has lasted since and yielded much success. While the club originally had only one trampoline, it nevertheless attracted about 100 students to training, which dropped to around 15 hardcore regulars making use of the limited equipment. The club four current trampolines allow for far greater numbers to be catered to. The Club went to Scotland every year too, but in those days it meant travelling by train! A 16 hour journey, involved a train to Belfast, a ferry across the sea, and then another train to wherever in Scotland the Scottish Student Trampoline Open was held. Today the flight takes less than 2 hours. The picture below shows UCC at SSTO, Sterling 2006.
In 1998, IAGA adopted Trampolining and Sports Aerobics as disciplines. However the coaching and judging courses that were run were British Gymnastics’, where a tutor would travel to Cork from the UK. From 2003, the year of the first Irish Student Trampoline Open, UCCTC has won medals on a 3rd level, National and International stage. The club first entered the official Irish Gymnastics, now Gymnastics Ireland, circuit in 2005, and has gone on to have great success since, with numerous National and Grande Prix Champions to its name. This period also saw the garnering of awards from the UCC Clubs Executive Committee (formerly Athletic Union) for both individual and club success. Some of these include Fresher of the Year, Most Improved Club, Club Event of the Year, Individual Bene Merenti awards and Club Person of the Year.
Members have also represented the club on the Clubs Executive, in the positions of OCM, PRO, Secretary, Treasurer, Vice President and even President; Students’ Union; Mardyke Arena Board of Management committees and COMMISTO (committee or organisers of ISTO). In 2007 the club obtained its first tumbling air track. It is worth pointing out that past and present Club members have represented Ireland at prestigious events such as World and European Trampoline and Tumbling Championships. The picture below shows some of the medals won by UCC (Left to right): ISTO 2004, UCC Trampoline Intervarsities 2006, Irish Gymnastics Qualification Medal (circa 1997), Irish gymnastics National Championships 2008, Cork Regional Championships 2006. The picture on the right shows a UCC member competing at tumbling at ISTO, Dublin 2005.
At UCC’s first National Championships in 2005, the students won medals at novice, intermediate and advanced level. While the club did not remain a very competitive entity for a good 15 years, since its inception the UCCTC has been a stalwart of UCC student life from a recreational point of view. Thousands of UCC graduates have fond memories of attending training sessions at some point during their days at College in the old sports hall and later the Mardyke. Nevertheless, UCC has gone on to host the biggest trampoline competitions in the country in the form of Intervarsities and ISTO (‘o6 and ’08 when the head organisers were all from UCCTC!) . The club managed to win intervarsities in 2010. And ISTO ’13 and ’15 were both hosted in Cork.
The catastrophic floods of 2009 carried a silver lining, allowing the club to acquire world class, brand new equipment. With coaching knowledge increasing in depth all the time, the standard of training continues to impress and produce a very high level of performance, while the recreational and fun side has never been lost. Truly, the future is bright. We will move forwards, not backwards; upwards, not forwards and forever twirling, twirling…