A plaque presented to Jana Williamson by some of her early gymnasts (photo courtesy Bob Wolfe)

Wolfe: Gymnastics leader made Polk a better place

After 29 years, a Tryon institution is coming to an end.

Jana Williamson Lukesova has decided to close Foothills Gymnastics Academy, liquidate her assets and return to the Czech Republic to care for her aging mother.

Jana was born and raised in Czechoslovakia under Communist rule. She arrived in America in 1991, became an American citizen, and opened her Tryon gymnastic gym in 1993.

In the early years, Jana’s teams were identified as the Polk County Gymnastic Team and they practiced in the old Tryon Elementary school gym that has since been torn down.

With growing success in competitions, enrollment expanded, and Jana moved to her present location in Tryon. With a larger facility Jana invested in first class gymnastic equipment and renamed her gym Foothills Gymnastics Academy.

Within the gymnastic coaching world, Jana earned a national reputation for developing young gymnast with strong techniques, mental discipline and physical strength. 

Jana coached more than 200 state, regional and national champions. She also had several girls compete in gymnastics and track and field on the college level.

Jana’s teams were a “force to be respected ” and usually dominated the meets in which they competed.

Jana always made sure her teams supported local community events through free public exhibitions and charity fund raising. 

Jana’s work ethic, determination and kind heart has been an inspiration for many, especially for the hundreds of young girls who participated in her gymnastic programs. 

Jana made our community proud and a better place to live. 

Thank you Coach Jana!

Note: Bob Wolfe lives in Tryon. One of his daughters was a member of Jana Williamson’s first competitive gymnastic team

One of the first teams coached by Jana Williamson in Tryon (photo courtesy Bob Wolfe)