“I have been in a gymnasium since I could crawl,” says Illya Demyanyuk, owner of Atlantic Coast Tumbling (ACT), a premier facility in Oyster Point, offering acrobatic, cheer and tumbling instruction. “My father was a famous coach, with several world champions.” Demyanyuk was a world champion in 1997 and 1999. “I am most proud of that achievement,” he says.
Demyanyuk is from the Ukraine and speaks flawless English. He was offered a contract with Busch and worked three seasons (April-September) at Water Country USA. After going back and forth for three years, he decided to stay in the U.S. “I also had met my future wife,” he adds. Now a U.S. citizen, he is married with two children, ages 7 and 9. “I am an American,” he states emphatically.
Demyanyuk spent seven years as a program director at a facility in Ohio. “There was a strong cheering program there,” he says. His wife took up gymnastics as a hobby and achieved one of the highest levels in competition, even though she started in her 20s. “It’s never too late,” says Demyanyuk. “I have a student now who is 63.”
Tired of the snow, Demyanyuk relocated from Ohio to Virginia, where his wife’s family lives. “It’s good to be near grandparents and it’s just lovely here,” he says.
The Oyster Point facility is 17,000 square feet, all padded. In addition to cheering and gymnastics, ACT offers dancing and martial arts.
Also offered are combination artistic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics,
synchronization and unique choreography. The performance “tells a story” and can be compared with Cirque de Soleil. Set to music, it captivates the audience. The majority of his students are female.
Pairing with other gymnasts makes it a “partner” sport. Balance holds, pyramids, tosses and catches require special skills. All ages and athletic abilities can participate. There is a place for any height, weight or body type. An athlete must possess determination and be stubborn. “He or she cannot stop at the first obstacle,” says Demyanyuk.
According to ACT’s promotional material, “cheerleading is an ever-growing sport with limitless possibilities.” It is more than “trophies and glitter.” The sport can be used as a platform for later growth in life. Competition can lead to college scholarships, trips around the world, world championship titles, friendships and personal achievement and satisfaction. ACT helps each student/athlete gain the skills needed to be successful.
“There is no ‘down side’ to gymnastics,” says Demyanyuk. “Children spend too much time with TV and computers. We help them ‘get the wiggles out.’ YouTube is not a good coach. Trying to learn from TV is a bad idea. I enjoy working with the children. I know all of the Disney princesses and other characters.”
Demyanyuk purchased Elite Cheer Sensation All-Stars recently. Formerly, ACT shared the facility with them. ACT has 11 instructors, including some part-time. The facility is open after school and evenings, with Saturday hours. ACT is very affordable and has an open enrollment. Classes are ongoing without a set start/finish schedule. Tumbling classes have a student/instructor ratio of 8:1. Private lessons are also available.
Demyanyuk has been coaching since he was 16. “Not all champions can coach. In fact, 90 percent of champions are not good coaches,” he says. Being able to perform does not necessarily equate with the ability to explain the performance—or teach it to someone else.
Demyanyuk’s children have not been to the Ukraine and do not speak the language. His parents have visited the U.S. As a U.S. citizen, Demyanyuk is allowed entry to the Ukraine. Currently the political environment is at a standoff. “I was able to complete the U.S. citizenship process because I already had a Green Card and was living here. However, it was lengthy and tedious. Now I fly the flag and vote American. But I can’t be President!”
Demyanyuk’s only hobby is competitive pistol shooting. He belongs to Lafayette Gun Club. “It’s the ‘manly man’ thing I do,” he says.
Because of the demands of owning a business, Demyanyuk doesn’t feel free to take vacations. He has traveled in Europe and likes Belgium best. Japan and Australia are on his wish list. Venice is at the top of his wife’s list. His grand plan is to travel the U.S. with his family in an RV.
Demyanyuk has spent his whole life with gymnastics and now enjoys the part he is playing in training the next generation.
TO THE POINT
Atlantic Coast Tumbling (ACT)
Address: 700 Thimble Shoals Blvd., Ste. 111, Newport News VA 23606 595-0516
Contact: Illya Demyanyuk, owner/instructor