By: Brian Keith Shrewsbury
How Our Dream Began!

Just three years ago MGA gymnastics began. Our little 6000 square foot gym on Bradshaw Road in a little town called Apopka. I remember coming to Florida many times with my son Kellen, searching for a special place to begin a new gym. We had good times traveling together and dreaming about the possibility of starting a new gym. A gym we could build from the ground up; from scratch. When we were in Florida Kellen and I stayed at the Hampton Inn on the outskirts of Apopka. Each day we would scan the web for buildings for rent in our price range in the area we had chosen. One day Kellen spotted a listing in South Apopka and the building looked like it might accommodate us. The rent was right, and we were anxious to get something started.

Kellen called the number on the listing for the main office.. A very nice lady named Debbie Thornton answered the phone and gave us some information. She told us she could meet us at the site tomorrow afternoon. Kellen hung up and said, ” I think we might have struck gold, we have a meeting tomorrow with someone named Debbie”. I did not think much of the call, and I went back to watching TV and eating a cold burrito that we had gotten at the 7-11 across the street.

The next day Kellen and I got up at 10:00 AM and got some breakfast downstairs at the Hampton free breakfast bar. We were not living high on the hog, but the hotel and the food were very nice. Our appointment at the rental site was not until 4PM, so Kellen and I had some time to kill. We went out and had some fun that afternoon at the beach over by Cape Canaveral in Titusville. It was a beautiful day, and the water was awesome. Both of us were thrilled at the possibility of one day living in Florida full time.

We left the beach at about 2:00 PM so that we would not be late for our appointment. On our way back we got a call, a call that would make things different for our whole family. Kellen had been working to purchase a new home, one that all of us would stay in when we were here in Florida The realtor on the phone told us that Kellen had been approved for the house and that his settlement would be just a month away. Things were definitely moving along,

At just a few minutes to 4:00 PM Kellen and I pulled up in my old truck and parked in front of the address we had been given. Two people were waiting next to us in a car. All of us got out and introduced ourselves to each other. Debbie Thornton introduced herself as the property manager. Today I know her as the manager of everything for the Cooper Corp. She introduced her husband to Kellen and I and invited us into the center. As we all walked through the door, everything slowed down. I felt that I was walking in silence and the world had just gone away. The place did not resemble a workable gymnastics center in any way. The offices around us were half built and needing to be rebuilt. We toured the facility for about 45 minutes with a few questions and mostly in the dark, as there was no electricity hooked up and no windows to let the sun in. I turned without saying a word to Kellen and said, ” we will take it”. Kellen looked at me a little surprised and confused. There are those moments in my life when I know I am on the right path; when I know that this is the beginning of something good. I then asked Debbie, ” how long will it take to tear all of this out and make us a gym”? She indicated to me that itcould be ready to go in about three months. Kellen and I shook Debbie’s hand and her husband, and we left. Kellen and I sat in silence on the trip back to the hotel. We stopped and got something to eat at Sonny’s Bar-B-Que. We ate in silence and I think Kellen wondered if we had made the right choice. I just knew it was right.

Fast forward three months; we are now living in Kellen’s new house in Mount Dora part time and traveling back and forth to Florida from Maryland. The gym is now complete, and looking exactly as we thought it would turn out. The Cooper construction company did not disappoint us, and we knew we were with good people. The gym opened on the 1st day of September 2011. We did not have one single student that day. We had a beam, a Tumbling Floor that Kellen and I built with our hands in his hot garage. We had three mats, a criss cross bar we also built and that was about it. We were very proud of our little gym. The doors opened that day and began a new chapter in our lives. We took a chance, and that dream is still growing and growing. ​

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