In the space of just under six years, a club funded on only one man’s student loan has since become one of the top three trampolining clubs throughout the United Kingdom.
Before Leeds Trampoline and Tumbling Club was formed in 2012, the sport was virtually non-existent in the city, which club founder Dan May soon discovered when he moved from Birmingham to study at the University of Leeds in 2010.
And from then on, it very quickly became apparent that the student would have to take matters into his own hands.
“Before I came to Leeds I didn’t really check it out in advance,” admits Dan.
“I just thought ‘Leeds is big so there must already be a trampolining club there’, but unfortunately there was nothing so it meant that I was having to travel to Sheffield to get the coaching I needed.
“So in my second year at uni’ I spent my student loan on a trampoline and then borrowed two from John Smeaton School.
“So then from that I set up a club which, in the first week, just had four members and since then I’ve just built it all up from there.”
Since then the club’s rise has been non-stop, becoming “more than a full-time job” for Dan and his small group of committed coaches to guide and nurture a host of young athletes from the recreational to the remarkable.
However, for every athlete, regardless of ability, the goal for the coaches is always the same.
“Here we have two main goals,” says coach Aaron Sheehan.
“We either make sure that they go on and pursue a career in trampolining, or they love the sport so much that they come into a role on the side like coaching.
“The last thing we want is for one of them to have spent five years of their childhood doing something they don’t enjoy and then suddenly drop out because we’ve over-trained them.”
It is a form of guidance that is particularly useful in a sport such as trampolining which, while looking elegant and graceful on the surface, can be a mentally brutal sport to be involved in.
“It’s a bit different to any other form of gymnastics in the sense that there is really just one chance.” says Dan.
“If you fall off, for example, in gymnastics the judges usually just take a mark off you and then let you try again.
“But in trampolining, if you fall off then that’s it – you get zero.
“So, for a kid as young as eight, it can be quite cut throat, because you can imagine, if you go to your first competition, make one little mistake and end up leaving with zero, then it’s hard for a child that young to pick themselves back up again.”
However, the kids at Leeds have done anything but stay down, with three of their athletes, Gabby Moorhouse, Harrison Green and Charlotte Tate currently holding British titles while many more have also bagged places in Great Britain’s international competition squads.
A huge 22 athletes are also set to compete for Leeds at this year’s British Championships in September, the second-highest number in the UK, leaving Dan, Aaron and the rest of their small coaching team relishing the busy months ahead.
“I think everyone at the club, including me and Dan, are always developing,” says Aaron. “When compared to the other elites, our coaching team is probably the youngest out of them all. So we do have long-term plans to try and improve and develop our coaching staff at the moment, but we are very proud of what we’ve achieved so far.”
The sport is certainly growing in Britain and Leeds looks set to remain one of its hugest assets well into the future.
Club: City of Leeds Trampoline and Tumbling Club.
Based: Gelderd Trading Estate, West Vale, Leeds.
Number of members: 1000.
Honours: 16 Great Britain and England squad members & 10 British titles.
Training days: Seven days a week.