Perhaps best known thus far for her tenure as head gymnastics coach for LaSalle Academy’s girls’ gymnastics team from 2001 to 2012, during which time her record-breaking team won 10 consecutive state championships and was the first team in Rhode Island to win the New England championship, Cathy Vachon has also launched and grown a number of gymnastics programs at various gyms in Rhode Island and Massachusetts including Sport Kids, Prestige Fitness and Gymnastics, Gymnastics Learning Center, and Ocean State School of Gymnastics. One of Cathy’s great strengths as a coach is developing high-quality, competitive gymnastics programs that are also fun for the gymnasts, a balance that can be difficult to strike at many gyms with an Olympic sport. Her gymnasts keep in touch with her, often well into adulthood, and many have followed her from one gym to another in order to keep her as a coach. Not surprisingly, when I asked Cathy what the best thing about Olympia is, she immediately answered, “The kids.”
Cathy and Steve opened Olympia’s doors in September 2018 and have grown both gymnastics and ninja programs significantly in just five months. Both the Excel teams and the Junior Olympic (gymnastics) teams have competed successfully in a number of meets already this season, and ninja enrollment continues to increase as well. Of Cathy and Steve’s nine children (ranging in age from 25 to 3), four are involved with Olympia. Their daughter, Samantha Kent, who went to Ohio State University on a full gymnastics scholarship from 2012 to 2016, is an assistant head coach at Olympia (in addition to working full-time at another job and going to graduate school). She won the Impact Award on bars while at Ohio State, a prestigious honor based on high scores and consistent participation in meets. Their son Josh coaches boys’ ninja in addition to going to college, and daughter Nicole, age 9, participates in the girls’ ninja program. Their youngest son Zach, age 3, is, in Cathy’s words, “our mascot.” You can find him at the gym often, usually in the middle of a group of doting gymnasts.
In addition to co-owning Olympia Gymnastics Center with Cathy, Steve Vachon is president and CEO of Vachon Financial Group, which has new offices in Bristol and offers wealth management services to clients throughout New England and beyond. Together, Steve and Cathy are a powerful pair of entrepreneurs, using their distinct skills and experience to create new businesses here in Rhode Island, and, significantly, high-quality athletic programs for kids at Olympia. Cathy’s gymnasts will be at the Rhode Island State (Gymnastics) Meet on March 16, 17 and 24 at Rhode Island College, which is open to the public. I’ll be there rooting for my daughter as well as for the Vachons and their continuing contributions to our little state.