“Barbara Heffner had just moved into my neighborhood in Roswell around 1974 and I brought her cookies as a young girl to welcome her to the neighborhood,” said Furman. “She said we should go to the city of Roswell and start a gymnastics program and I became the first gymnast.”
Roswell Gymnastics has now grown into an empire with more than 2,100 gymnasts in the program along with approximately 600 dancers who participate in performing arts and musical theater. Furthermore, there are 117 girls and 65 boys who are part of the competitive team with an age range of five through 17. This past season, the girls’ team placed second overall at the USA Xcel silver level state competition, with Adia Davis, Ashley Morgan and Ella Hargett named to the regional team. Alicia Buteau, Cameron Evans and Brooke McQuilken also won individual events at the same event. The team also found success on the Xcel platinum level, in which Taylor McQuilken earned a spot on the regional team, while Isabella Yoo, Mattie Flower and Megan Merriam also had strong showing at the contest.
Roswell Gymnastics’ first location was in an office building on Hill Street and even had a stint at Waller Park before eventually moving to the Bill Johnson Community Building in 1983. When an adjacent facility was built on the same grounds, Furman was approached with the opportunity to return to Roswell.
“I attended the University of Georgia and began teaching at a club program in Athens,” said Furman. “While at UGA, I earned a degree in business but also had classes in child sociology and development to help with gymnastics coaching. I took over the pre-school program for Roswell Gymnastics in 1988 and was promoted to the director in 1995.”
Many former gymnasts return to the facility to teach and Furman’s two children, daughter Chandler and son Cooper, are under the guidance of students formally led by Furman. Heffner, the founder of the program, also still has a prominent role within Roswell Gymnastics.
“We take pride in having something for everyone,” said Furman. “We have Xcel programs for kids who are serious about competing and recreational classes for coordination and physical fitness.”
The facility has full occupation throughout the summer as campers interact with competitive gymnasts who continue to train because the sport doesn’t have an official off-season. Each participant, at all levels, reaps the rewards of the sport in everyday life.
“Gymnastics teaches discipline, hard work and perseverance,” said Furman. “It’s a challenging sport with setbacks that show students that this is when you have the biggest opportunity to grow and that gets them ready for life. There are so many obstacles such as injuries, body changes, fear of learning a new skill and subjective judging that it teaches you to keep going through it all.”