Meet The Team

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Meet The Team 2017-07-29T23:58:00+00:00

Meet Our Team

Spotlight Gymnastics was founded in 1986 by Ute and Edward Finn to provide gymnastics training for children of all ages and abilities. Throughout the years, Spotlight has remained a integral part of the community while maintaining a family atmosphere.

Our fully equipped gym is located in Lower Westchester in Pelham Manor, NY. We offer classes from September through June divided into FALL, WINTER, and SPRING Sessions. We also offer TUMBLING CLASSES, JUNE CAMP and SUMMER PROGRAMS.

Our philosophy is to teach gymnastics skills and fitness in a fun, SAFE, nurturing, positive, non-competitive learning environment to children ages 2 to 18. As well as gymnastic skills such as cartwheels, handsprings and flips, Spotlight’s step-by-step approach helps to develop many valuable attributes including self-confidence, self-esteem, balance, muscle strength, healthy bones, flexibility, co-ordination and motor skills.  Our curriculum helps young children improve social interactive skills such as respecting oneself and others, taking turns and listening to directions.   We recognize that all children are individuals and learn at different speeds and in different ways. Therefore, our teachers individualize the instruction to give each student a chance to develop to his/her greatest potential.

 

 

Our Staff

We believe our instructional staff is what separates our gymnastics programs from all others in Westchester County. Most of our coaches and instructors have been together for many years and their wealth of experience from coaching and teaching in private clubs, colleges, high schools, and international programs allows us to offer safe and well-supervised programs in this most exciting sport. Our coaches also hold “USGF” safety and coaching certifications. In these brief background sketches of our staff, we tell only part of what they have to offer students in the sport of gymnastics. They are mature, capable of sound judgment, and aware of their responsibilities as instructors. Students will respect their knowledge and experience, benefit from their guidance, and enjoy their enthusiasm.
 
Eric Finn, Co-Owner 
Eric has been involved as a student, teacher, and coach of gymnastics for the last 40 years.  He has taught at private gym clubs in Hawaii and Westchester County as well as having coached freestyle skiing and aerials in Europe.  In addition to Spotlight Gymnastics, Eric is a professional skydiver and B.A.S.E. jumper.  He spends most of his summers teaching aerials to B.A.S.E. jumpers in Europe and Malaysia.
 
Andrew Finn, Co-Owner
Andrew has been involved with Spotlight for the last 25 years.  As a former world class tennis coach and director / owner of ski and tennis camps abroad, Andrew brings his vast knowledge of business and sports management to Spotlight.  Andrew’s main focus has been to provide the direction and leadership necessary to ensure that Spotlight maintains the most well rounded and trained staff in the area, the most up-to-date equipment available in the industry, and an environment that is always both safe and conducive to learning.
 
Melisa Didio, Director
After 20 years and a mother of 4, Melisa returns as Director.  Melisa worked alongside Ute and Edward Finn, the founders of Spotlight, to help foster what you see today and helped design a curriculum for gymnasts of all ages.  Melisa’s background as an actor brought a level of fun to her coaching and she steps back into the spotlight to supplement the wonderful team of coaches as they continue to realize the vision Ute and Edward had so many years ago.
 
Sean Jones
Sean, a former gymnastic competitor, has been a delight to our students and parents for the past 28 years.  Sean is especially famous for his “zany” warm-up games, creative skill development and fun personality. Sean is the Director of our summer Gymnastics Program. Sean holds USA Gymnastics Safety, Kinder Accreditation for Teachers, School Age Training, CPR & First Aid Certifications. 
 
Rumen Iliev
Rumen’s training in gymnastics began at an early age at National Training Centers in his native Bulgaria. After performing in Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus, Rumen began a career teaching gymnastics in the USA and joined Spotlight in 1986. Rumen, Director of our Tumbling  Program, creates many drills and skill progressions to enhance his students’ skill level. Rumen is CPR, First Aid and Safety Certified by USA Gymnastics.
 
Valbona Smajlaj
Valbona holds a degree in Physical Education specializing in gymnastics from Durst Academy in Albania where she taught high school physical education for 9 years. Valbona competed nationally and internationally for 14 years winning many championships including the Albanian National All Around title. Valbona’s experience and caring personality make her a winning part to our staff. Val holds certifications in CPR, First Aid, Safety for Gymnastics and School age training from USA Gymnastics.
  
Nadine Iliev
Nadine trained as a classical ballet dancer at the School of American Ballet. She performed, choreographed and taught at the Bronx Dance Theatre. Nadine even performed at the White House. Nadine has taught gymnastics for 15 years and we are very excited to have her starting her tenth year at Spotlight.  Nadine is CPR, First Aid and USA Gymnastics safety certified. 
 
Emily Eliseo
Emily is beginning her 8th year teaching tumbling and gymnastics.  She participated in cheerleading for 6 years and coached an All Star Cheer Team.  Emily is safety Certified by USA Gymnastics and holds a Gymnastic Instructor Certification from USA Gymnastics University.  This summer she also attended an Intensive Gymnastic Teacher Education Program sponsored by USA Gymnastics.
 
Jorge Suarez
Jorge, a former all-around gymnastics competitor, started his training at the age of 16 in high school and has been teaching gymnastics and tumbling for 8 years.  Jorge’s love for art is what drives him to continue teaching because he believes that every child has the ability to create their own style of tumbling and charisma on the floor.  Jorge is CPR, First Aid and USAG Safety Certified.
 
Kevin Cortez
Kevin has been involved with gymnastics for 10 years.  He previously had competed in the Public School Athletic League during his high school years and has been teaching and training ever since.  Kevin is a volunteer instructor at Roberto Clemente State Park and is a participant at the Big Apple Games Program.  In his spare time Kevin enjoys spending time on the art of photography and videography. He is First Aid and CPR certified.
 
Ziggy Scipio
Ziggy has been involved with Spotlight for over 10 years and brings years of teaching and coaching experience with him.  Ziggy recently finished his Masters in Physical Therapy and soon he will be working on his Doctorate.  Well done Ziggy!!!!
 
Nikkie Hernandez
Nikkie graduated from Wood Tobé-Coburn School as a Medical Assistant.  She began her love for gymnastics while competing with the Long Island All Star Cheerleading Team for 6 years and began coaching gymnastics 3 years ago.  Nikkie says, “Nothing makes me happier than seeing the rewarding smile on each kid’s face after they learn a new skill.”  Nikkie is CPR, First Aid and USAG Safety Certified.