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Coaches and Staff
Peoria Elite Crew

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Karen Thomas

Girls’ Team Head Coach

Karen began her coaching career 33 years ago in Peoria, Illinois at the YWCA and Frank Freeman’s School of Gymnastics. Karen is also a beam and floor choreographer.

After coaching four years in the area, she accepted a coaching job in Singapore for two years for their optional team that competed internationally. She returned to the States and found her way to Texas where she coached for two years before opening her own gym in Texas with her husband. Their gym had recreational and team gymnastics, along with a tumbling and cheerleading program. During this time, she completed her Elementary teaching degree and her Master’s degree in Secondary Education. She taught Middle School Language Arts and coached in the evenings and weekends. Their gym had many successful gymnasts for 17 years, and several even received college scholarships. When her husband developed some health problems in 2005, they sold their gym.

She moved back to Peoria in 2007 where she started coaching again and was the Director of the Tumbling Program at the YWCA. In 2009 she resumed coaching and developing the successful gymnastics teams at the Clubs at River City. Recognizing the talent in the Peoria area and the potential need for an Elite program, Karen decided to join the Peoria Elite Gymnastics Academy in 2014.

Karen is a USAG Professional member, USAG Safety Certified, and Red Cross CPR/First Aid Certified.

Jenna Parks

Girls' Team Coach

Jenna first discovered her love for gymnastics at the age of two. She competed gymnastics for 10 years at I-Power School of Gymnastics in Champaign, Illinois.  During that time, Jenna earned two Level 8 State Titles, was a four time Regional Qualifier, and competed as a Level 10 gymnast.

After graduating high school, Jenna went on to attend Illinois State University where she earned her Bachelor’s in Secondary Mathematics Education. While attending ISU, Jenna coached at I-Power for four years. She coached Levels 3-10 producing many state titles and regional qualifiers.

Jenna then began her co-head coaching career at River City Gymnastics with Fred.  During this time, Fred and Jenna produced 10 state titles in two years. Along with coaching at River City, Jenna teaches mathematics full time at Washington Community High School.

Jenna has a passion for coaching polished and high quality gymnastics. Her goal as a coach is to help gymnasts reach their own goals and potential in the sport. She truly enjoys sharing her passion and love for gymnastics with the girls she coaches. Jenna has a detailed orientated and hands-on coaching style in the gym.

On a personal note, Jenna was a member of the Gamma Phi Circus at ISU for three years. She performed in tumbling, wall trampoline, Russian Swing, and Teeterboard. Each year the Gamma Phi Circus puts on an annual show in Redbird Arena bringing in tens of thousands of people from all over Illinois to watch.

Jenna is a USAG Professional Member, USAG Safety Certified, SAFESPORT Certified, and CPR Certified.

Brittany Robinson

XCel Team Coach

Brittany’s love for gymnastics began at age 3, and she competed for Gymnastics Plus in Indiana until health conditions limited intense competitive training. However, she never lost her love for the sport and began her coaching career at Summit Gymnastics in Indiana where she coached for three years. While she was there, she coached the Junior Olympic compulsory levels, recreational classes and redesigned and led the preschool program. Then she moved to Peoria in order to attend Bradley University, and she began coaching at River City Gymnastics. Brittany was there for just over two years and working with the JO, Xcel, and recreational level gymnastics alongside Fred and Jenna.

As a coach, Brittany strives to create strong, disciplined, and determined athletes. She will do whatever it takes to help her gymnasts achieve their goals, both in and out of the gym. Brittany emphasizes clean skills with excellent technique, not only to produce good scores, but also to ensure the safety of her gymnasts.

Brittany’s education includes a Bachelor’s in Health Science from Bradley University, and she is currently a Doctorate of Physical Therapy student at Bradley. She believes her extensive background in exercise science and anatomy helps her be a better coach for her athletes. She prioritizes their physical well being, and so she implements a lot of strength and conditioning into their workouts in order to minimize risk of injury as much as possible in this high-impact sport. She also focuses on individual rehab for athletes who come to her with recurrent or chronic aches, pains, or injuries.

On a more personal level, if she is not studying or at the gym, she enjoys spending time outside or with her family. She has two biological brothers and three foster siblings in the northwest Indiana region.

She is a USAG Professional Member, USAG Safety Certified, SAFESPORT Certified, and CPR Certified. She is very excited to begin her journey with everyone at Peoria Elite and look forward to the season’s ahead!

Alyson Mackesy

Boy's Team Coach and Program Director

I started gymnastics at the age of 4. I also have a background in ballet and tap dance. I competed at Roseville Area High School Gymnastics for 4 years. My first year I won the JV state Championship title. After moving to the Varsity team, I earned the All State and All American title 3 years in a row.

I started my coaching career in 2001 instructing both boys and girls competitive teams at Flyaway’s Gymnastics Center in Minnesota. The competitive girls team garnered several Regional Champions in my tenure, several level 10 gymnasts and a Training Elite Gymnast. I have also instructed pre-school and rec classes since 2001. I currently coach pre-school, rec classes and Boys Competitive Team.

I retired from the Army as a full-time civilian employee in Jan 2020 and am currently still in the Army Reserves. I have a lot of first aid knowledge as part of my Army training. I have 3 children and coach at PEGA with my husband Chris. Our youngest child, Conner (9) is a level 6 competitive gymnast and trains at PEGA.

Alyson is a USAG Professional Member in Men’s and Women’s Artistic Gymnastics. Safe Sport Trained and Safety and Risk Management trained.

Alicia V.

Recreational Director and Special Events Coordinator

My name is Alicia.  I am a cosmetologist, I have a husband and 3 children.  Family means everything to me.  I have a background of cheering and tumbling, and trampoline.  I love the outdoors, and most sports!! I love coaching and teaching children!!

Chris M.

Boy's Recreational Instructor

Chris was introduced to the world of gymnastics in 2002 when he met his future wife Alyson who was coaching gymnastics at the time.

He has always respected male gymnasts as the top athletes in the world for their strength, flexibility and discipline even though he is an avid fan of football and soccer.

Chris retired from the US Army in 2014 after serving 23 years.

All three of his children have been involved with gymnastics since an early age.  His youngest son has been a competitive gymnast since the age of six.

With an admiration, passion and enthusiasm for the sport he became a USAG professional member in 2017 with the intent of becoming a coach and gym owner.

Chris began coaching in 2018 as an assistant boy’s team coach and maintains USAG professional certification in men’s discipline and is USAG Safety Certified and SAFESPORT Certified.

Kristina V.

Preschool Director

I have had 6 years of theater and dance experience. I am currently going to college to become a first and second grade teacher. My favorite color is yellow and I love giraffes!

Taylor G.

Recreational Instructor

I have been tumbling since I was 5 years old and have loved it ever since. I was a cheerleader for 6 years and did competitive tumbling for 2 years. I am an accountant during the day and excited to come teach all my kids in the evening!

Cole N.

Special Events

I have worked at Peoria Elite for over 2 years. Over the past 2 years, I have taught tumbling and trampoline classes, ninja classes and am part of the Special Events Team and lead Birthday Parties, Kids Night Out and Open Gym.   I love being a part of the Peoria Elite family!

Katie M.

Special Events and Front Desk Receptionist

I am currently a Sophomore at Illinois Central College. I grew up doing cheerleading and was a competitive cheerleader for 3 years. My favorite gymnastics event is floor. I enjoy sports and sharing my love of life with everyone I meet!

Karissa K.

Ninja Instructor

Kendra K.

Recreational Instructor

I started tumbling when I was 4 and was a cheerleader at my school for 7 years.  At my previous job I babysat children at a fitness gym.  I have always loved tumbling and cheer and teaching kids skills makes me happy!

Kathleen M.

Recreational Instructor

A former student manager of the University of Minnesota women’s gymnastics team.  Kathleen shares her passion for the sport and background in dance with her students.

Juliet H.

Assistant Coach

I am currently attending Brimfield High School. I have done competitive gymnastics for 8 years at PEGA. I enjoy getting to know all of the kids and teaching them the sport that I love.

Miranda H.

Recreational Instrutor

Miranda is a former all around state champion as a competitor on the PEGA team.  Now she is finally able to share her gymnastics experiences as a coach.

Olivia R.

Recreational Instructor

A former competitive gymnast for PEGA.  Now Olivia enjoys sharing her knowledge and enthusiasm with the younger students.

Paige K.

Special Events

Hannah D.

Special Events

I am currently a freshman at ICC and have worked at Peoria Elite for over a year now.  I’m a special events instructor assisting with open gyms, birthday parties and kids knight out.  I’ve always loved working with kids so I really enjoy being a part of the Peoria Elite team!

Halla M.

Special Events
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