On Monday and Wednesday evenings, the Kerr Hall Gymnasium transforms into what looks like the training grounds for circus performers. Three competition-size trampolines set up side-by-side occupy one half of the gym. Backpacks, shoes and a couple of students practising handstands fill the other half.
Here at the Ryerson Trampoline Club, a new generation of students are learning the art of the trampoline after a 22-year hiatus.
Two years ago, coach Bill Spurrell approached Ryerson University Athletics and Recreation with $17,000 and a proposal to restart the club he formed back in the 1970s.
“They were excited because there is nothing at Ryerson for people with a background in acrobatics,” says Spurrell. “So I felt the need to start it up again.”
That same desire to create a club for students with acrobatic backgrounds was what led Spurrell to form the original group back when he was a Ryerson student.
“I was devastated when I realized Ryerson had no gymnastic team and nothing similar to it in terms of athletics programs,” says Spurrell. “I started springboard diving, but it was never the same as gymnastics. I missed that routine aspect of it.”
Instead of settling for diving, Spurrell and two friends formed the original trampoline club. They began practising on an old trampoline that Ryerson happened to have in its equipment room. The club went on to compete in and win several national championships.
But running the Ryerson club while coaching both the Canadian national and Ontario provincial teams is time-consuming. As Spurrell chose to spend more time at home with his family, he became less involved in the club. By 1990, the club and all its equipment faded away.
Now, after retiring from coaching, Spurrell is back in the heart of the Ryerson Trampoline Club. Since the club’s start in November 2012, he has used his own money to purchase three trampolines for the club and is looking to add a fourth.
“One more trampoline would really complete the club,” Spurrell says adding that he would like to get a vertical wall trampoline, like the kind used in Cirque du Soleil.
While Spurrel teaches beginners how to execute trampoline basics such as pike jumps and seat drops, he’s also been training a more advanced group of acrobats in the hopes of putting together a performance team to help with fundraising.
One student in particular, fourth-year urban and regional planning student Carl Meschino, has the potential to go one step further. According to Spurrell, Meschino could make the transition into competitive trampoline this year.
“Carl has done a little bit of gymnastics in high school, but he has excelled faster than any student I’ve taught at Ryerson,” says Spurrell. “He’s learning multiple twisting double somersaults and could be a contender for a national title if he’s interested.”
Turns out, Meschino is very interested indeed.
“Bill is amazing,” says Meschino. “He’ll correct really small things like your toe points and arms. After one session, I improved. Now I’m really interested in competing at some point.
“It’s pretty special that we have such an amazing coach to train us. He’s experienced with competitions and what they look for.”
Students like Meschino will have more opportunity to reach the competitive level this year, as Spurrell has set aside additional practice time for pre-competitive students.
But for students without competitive aspirations, the trampoline club is still a place for recreational fun.
“It’s somewhere I go to get relief from school,” says third-year fashion communication student Kelsey Moretto, who’s been a member since the start. “You walk away feeling better, more focused, energized and ready to tackle whatever comes next.”
The Ryerson Trampoline Club meets Mondays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. in the Kerr Hall Gym.
This story is part of a series. Every day this week, The Ryersonian showcases one of Ryerson’s clubs to highlight what it’s all about.