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Dave Tews proud of current Blue Jay gymnastics coaching staff

Tews, a former head coach for the JHS gymnastics team, has coached every member of the 2022 JHS gymnastics team coaching staff.

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Former Jamestown High School head gymnastics coach Dave Tews, left, coached Bre Carlson, Ashley Hochhalter and Kerrie Soulis. Carlson, Hochhalter and Soulis make up the current JHS gymnastics coaching staff.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun
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JAMESTOWN — Jamestown High School head football coach Bill Nelson talks a lot about his dream of having his former athletes come back to Jamestown.

If Nelson sticks with his coaching long enough, he might end up in the same boat as former JHS head gymnastics coach Dave Tews — where athletes not only come back, but they fill in for you when you choose to retire.

"I'm so proud to see that we are doing well," Tews said of the Blue Jay gymnastics program. "We've built a really, really good gymnastics program. I always hope it keeps going."

Tews was the head coach of the Blue Jay gymnastics team for 43 years before he officially retired in 2021. Former JHS gymnast and 17-year assistant coach Andrea Bitz took over the head coaching position last year but left the program after one season as the head coach.

That brought up another former Blue Jay gymnast as a head coach possibility.

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Six-year volunteer assistant coach Bre Carlson was hired as the Blue Jays' head coach and Jamestown Gymnastics Club executive director last fall.

Carlson is just one of Tews' former athletes on staff at the JGC this winter. Ashley (Kronebusch) Hochhalter, a class of 2012 grad, and Kerrie Soulis, a Blue Jay gymnast from the '80s era, are coaching alongside Carlson this year — Hochhalter as the assistant coach and Soulis as a volunteer. Tews is also a current volunteer coach for the Blue Jays.

"We've developed a good group of people to run the program," Tews said. "We've just been lucky to have a good program with a mixture of coaches. The coaching has always been diverse. Bre and Ashley are enthusiastic which is huge. They care and they're excited to help the kids do well. I would tell them to keep being that way — it's so important."

The Jays kicked off their season with a 140.800 performance in the team's season-opener against Aberdeen Central. The squad followed it up with a score of 127.125 at Dickinson's Invite and 135.975 at Bismarck's Invitational.

The Blue Jays are the state runners-up having racked up a whopping 146.650 at the 2022 State Gymnastics Meet. Jamestown has nabbed a top-three team finish at the last four Class A state meets.

Tews said he believes the success of the Blue Jays program is based on having all his former athletes come back and help the team. In 35 of his 43 years spent as the head coach, the Blue Jays had at least one former gymnast in the gym helping the program — paid or not paid.

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"The kids absolutely respect all three of these people," Tews said of the 2022 coaching staff. "I think that is so important. They are catering to the complete athlete now because they know what the athlete needs. It's probably a good thing when I come into the gym because once they see the grumpy old guy they realize what they have with those three."

While Carlson only competed for Tews until she was in eighth grade, her passion for gymnastics was continued through the coaching realm. Since her college days, Carlson has served as a volunteer coach, helping out with the younger levels and the prep team's schedule.

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"Because Bre is a former gymnast — she understands the difficulties that these kids go through," Tews said. "Bre has just been phenomenal at building up those kids at the lower levels. Thank goodness for that because some of the old guys like me didn't see those things."

Back in Hochhalter's competing days, the now-assistant coach proved consistent and steady on vault, beam and floor. Hochhalter placed 24th in the all-around at the 2012 West Region and State meets with scores ranging between the 8.5 and 9.1 range in her three main events.

"I knew Ashley from the time she time she was a little kid," Tews said. "Her older sister was also an athlete for us. Ashley always cared about the program. She was always the team person in an individual sport. If things weren't going well for her and she wasn't the top dog, she never showed it. She just did her best all along."

Tews said Hochhalter brings a lot of knowledge to the program and has a good sense of what kids need from their coaching staff — both qualities that have not only earned the gymnasts' respect, but also Tews'.

"For years, even when she wasn't coaching in our program, she was working with kids, helping them be better," Tews said. "You think all athletes need to be treated the same but that actually doesn't work out. Ashley knows that. She can get through to kids. She was that way as an athlete and now she's carrying that into her coaching.

"I am so happy she's officially under contract to be that person that cares about the team and the athletes," he said.

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Coach Dave Tews stands beside Courtney Mack after her performance on the vault during the 2019 state gymnastics meet at Jamestown High School's Jerry Meyer Arena.
John M. Steiner / The Jamestown Sun

While Soulis isn't under any kind of contract, she has been a volunteer coach for the Blue Jays for nearly a decade, helping out in the gym and with the bookkeeping and organization that goes into running a successful program.

"Kerrie is so important," Tews said. "She doesn't have any kids involved with the sport but she's there. She's there for the kids. She might not remember as much as I do, but she knows just about everything that's gone on in our program."

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Tews' memories aren't the only thing he's bringing with him to the gym nowadays.

"I don't ever want to steal anybody's glory but I told Bre, that if she needed any advice, I'm not saying it's right, I would be happy to help her out," Tews said.

"She's going to learn a lot. Head coaching is more than just from the start of practice to the end," he said. "It's working with the athletic director, it's fielding calls from coaches and the bus barn and the official who can't make it. You are going to have to kind of roll with the punches."

Tews said he would tell Carlson to not get frustrated with the logistics but rather to just enjoy the time in the gym with the kids before they are standing beside her coaching.

"Enjoy the coaching part of it, that's usually the better part of the stuff that goes on," Tews said. "The paperwork — well, maybe you can find some people to help you out with that."

Related Topics: JAMESTOWN BLUE JAYSJAMESTOWN HIGH SCHOOLPREP SPORTSBLUE JAYS GYMNASTICS
Katie Ringer is a sports reporter for the Jamestown Sun. Katie joined the Sun staff in the summer of 2019 after graduating from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a degree in journalism. She can be reached by email at kringer@jamestownsun.com or by phone at 701-952-8460.
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