By Karen Billing
Since running TRC Gymnastics in Solana Beach for the last 20 years, Darryl Davis estimates he’s seen just about every kid in the area in his gym. He credits the longevity and popularity to the fact that they love what they do and through positive word of mouth from children and parents the families just keep coming.
With nearly 600 kids a week taking classes and 440 on the waiting list, TRC (which stands for The Rolling Company) had to open up its second location in Sorrento Mesa to recreational classes.
The Sorrento Mesa location opened in 2009 and was slated to be specifically for TRC’s competitive team training, but TRC has become so busy that they decided to open it up for more classes and get more kids off the waiting list and into the gym.
“I have a vision of doing this forever and having classes there is a big part of its success,” said Davis. “It’s exciting for me to see the class program developing over there…I want to see lots more kids go through and fall in love with the sport.”
There are several levels of programs for kids at TRC, including a happy gym with a bouncy floor, apparatuses for kids of all sizes and paintings of tumbling monkeys on the wall. They do Mommy and Me classes for children 18 to 24 months, Kindergym for children 3-5 years old, open gymnastics for preschoolers, girls and boys gymnastics up to age 13, a high school program, and a program just for tumbling for a variety of skill levels.
Just starting in January, TRC also now offers a cheer program to introduce students to the tumbling, stunting and flying involved in the growing sport.
TRC’s competitive gymnastics team is by invitation-only. Davis prefers to develop his competitive team from kids who have moved up the ranks at TRC with great success. The TRC team competes statewide and nationally.
Davis grew up in the Los Angeles area and really started gymnastics by accident.
On a rainy day when he was a high school sophomore, they gave students the choice to do gymnastics indoors or be out in the rain. Davis chose the gymnastics as he didn’t want to be in the rain and had already taught himself how to do a round-off back handspring while he was bored in the outfield during baseball games.
“I fell in love with it,” said Davis, who would letter in the sport by the next year.
“In the 11th grade I told my parents I wanted to be a gymnastics coach and own a gym one day.”
Being a coach just seemed to be in his nature — as just a junior in high school, he developed an after school program for five Los Angeles elementary schools.
He competed in college at Arizona State University (floor exercise and vault were his specialties) at the same time as being a 19-year-old head coach in different gym. He founded The Rolling Company in 1983 as a mobile gymnastics program.
“I borrowed mats and solicited classes in the back room at a Montessori school, at a synagogue and even a golf club,” Davis said.
Davis eventually moved back to Los Angeles, where he coached at University of Southern California and ran a gym in Palos Verdes. He moved to San Diego with his wife and spent two “crazy” years running the gymnastics program at the Rancho Santa Fe Community Center and commuting back to LA to train his old team and do private lessons.
He finally accomplished his dream of having his own gym when he opened up TRC in Solana Beach in 1992. He started with a 1,500-square-foot facility and about 15 kids.
Within the first month he grew to 150 students.
TRC expanded five years ago so it is now a 9,500-square-foot facility, serving nearly 600 kids. The Sorrento Mesa location offers an additional 1,300 square feet.
Davis knows the lines about gymnastics helping to teach kids self-esteem, discipline, and commitment, but he sees his gym as having the responsibility to serve his community. There’s less PE in school and kids need the room to move and play.
“When I was a kid, I was turned loose with my friends to ride bikes, climb trees and go exploring. A lot of kids don’t have that anymore because of the environment we live in today, they don’t get the chance to play like that,” Davis said. “This gives kids some of that stuff back. Kids that don’t get outside a lot, they get the experience to jump and tumble.”
Davis said while he can be strict with his competition team — he takes a “goofball” approach with the younger kids — he likes to do karate poses and tease them and act like a 55-year-old “grandpa.”
“For the most part I play because I love what I do and I know the kids like it,” Davis said.
Davis said he has taken gymnasts to the national championships six or seven times in 40 years and had only two compete at the international level.
“I’m not under the false perception that every kid I have is going to the Olympics. To me, there’s more important things than that. I’ve had close to 10 people that I coached when they were kids bring their kids to me. That’s fun,” Davis said. “I want to generate an organization that lives long past me, long beyond my years.”
To learn more about TRC, visit trcgymnastics.com