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Janet Mischewski said she’ll continue coaching until she can’t walk. Photo: GORDON PREECE

Nana Janet named finalist in regional awards

Janet Mischewski was “quite stunned” after becoming a community coach finalist in the 2022 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards.
The 68-year-old has been a periodical gymnastics coach for 50 years and told The Profile patience, a passion for the sport and working with children kept her balanced.
“I really enjoy working with the young ones, just to watch their progress and it takes a little while especially when they haven’t had much to do with it and just their reaction when they do something that they didn’t think they could do.
“The last school holidays we went up to North Harbour and that’s the first time we’ve gone to Auckland and we took a large group and it was the team gym plus individuals and they did very well, and of course the more they like it the more we enjoy it.”
Janet, who’s fondly called Nana Janet by the Thames Gymsports community, said she first flexed her gymnastics skills as an eight-year-old.
“I started in Porirua and I always enjoyed it, then I went to eight schools because dad worked in the post office so we shifted all the time maybe for two and a half years but it didn’t matter where I went, I seemed to be able to get into a club,” she said.
Janet said she competed in gymnastics while she and her family lived in Morrinsville and Ōpunake before she vaulted into coaching at Waihī Memorial Hall as an 18-year-old.
“Then I didn’t start again until my own daughter [Julia] started gym at Ngātea Primary School in 1990 and I used to go down at lunchtime in the winter and coach them for a few years and then it stopped.
Julia said she then coached gymnastics again at Ngatea Primary School for seven years from 2006 which included a two-year stint teaching gymnastics at Thames High School.
“Then Julia said to me one day [in 2016] come and watch Caeleigh and Haven [grandchildren], I’ve started them at gymnastics so I went and watched and they took one look at me and said oh you’re back so I was sort of roped back again.”
Janet said she had now been a coach for five to six years at Thames Gymsports and said she’ll continue until she can’t walk.
“If we didn’t have such a well organised club, I probably wouldn’t have kept going and if it wasn’t for who I’m working with, the other coaches and the other committee members, they’re like a family and it makes it so much easier to work with people like that,” she said.
“It’s all about balance the body and balance the mind. If you’ve done a term or two at gymnastics you’ll be better at sports because it balances the body, and the kids get a great response.”
Janet said Thames Gymsports chairperson Andrea Johnston nominated her for the community coach award which noted Janet supported all the gymnasts to have a go, to achieve their goals and to have fun and be active.
She upheld the club’s commitment to being inclusive, aiming to inspire, develop and challenge kids of all ages and skill levels.
The 2022 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards will flip into action on January 26.