|Willipedia is now back online as of 5/5/2019|
|It has been several years since Willipedia closed. Please help get it updated!|
|Go to the Willipedia 2.0 Project to learn more.|
The club in its present form began in 2002 when former high-school gymnasts Ilya Feldsherov
('06) and Melody Marchman ('06) decided to start a gymnastics club for any gymnasts on the Williams campus. At this point there was not yet an established idea of what the club would be or how it would be conducted, just a rough sense of giving gymnasts who were deprived of their sport at Williams a chance to stretch their muscles and limber up again. An all-campus e-mail was sent out to that effect, inviting any interested parties, when lo and behold, who should respond but none other than Ricardo Portalatin, Springfield College alum and graduate of their prestigious College Gymnastics Association's National Academic Team. 'Rico' was a former graduate assistant to current Springfield College CGANAT head coach, Steve Posner, and was chosen to represent Puerto Rico at the 1995 World Championship in Japan. Rico later married, had adorable children, and joined the Williams College community as a locksmith, deciding to hang up his leotard forever....or did he?
An immediate hit with students, Rico was hired as coach of the club at the behest of Mel
and Ilya for 2 years until his departure from Williams in 2004. During this time the club met twice a week and drove only as far as the local Y, where it would join an after-school gymnastics program already in place under the guidance of Mrs. Denise Forkey (of Mr. Forkey of the physics department fame!). Rico, Mel, and Ilya taught several students to tumble, molding them from stiff, couldn't-touch-their-toes-if-they-tried statuettes into cartwheeling, round-off back-hand-springing-(with a tuck!)-honest-to-goodness gymnasts. Despite his years off the mat, Rico maintained, frankly, an unbelievable physique for a man with a wife, two children, and a steady job. In truth, he snuck away every lunch hour to hit Lasell Gym and it is quite possible that he fought crime by night, getting home just in time to have breakfast with the family. It is in that easy-going spirit of dedication and determination that the Williams Gymnastic Club operates and maintains that anyone--ANYONE--can become a gymnast.
In Rico's absence the club continued, led by Melody and Ilya, meeting and working with Mrs. Forkey and her extremely talented group of girls. For a time, the club hired a young Stanford graduate by the name of
Sheera to coach their group. Sheera was quite talented with an impressive background in the circus, however many of her exercises were perhaps geared more for the circus and not a mixed group of gymnasts.
Since 2005, the group has met once a week, led by a committed and talented pool of student gymnasts. Mrs. Forkey's gymnastics team was asked to leave the Y due to increased insurance costs, and so after a brief stint of meeting in the cramped basement of a North Adams church, the college club broke away from Mrs. Forkey and her girls to work out at Gymfest! in Pittsfield on Wednesday evenings, where they continue to meet to this day.