Where It Began
HISTORY OF RACINE GYMNASTICS CENTER
We would like to look back in time at our beginnings in the early 1970s, when a seasoned physical education teacher named Bob Auer and some of his colleagues were coaching gymnastics through the Racine Recreation Departments after school programs. They organized the first gymnastics club in Racine. The club got its original name "The Peppermint Club", after spectator's comments about the red and white striped rugby polo shirts that the teachers wore.
Instructors and students wearied over the years of constantly putting up and taking down equipment. Bob had an idea for a separate facility dedicated just for gymnastics. This was already being done in Europe. By the fall of 1976, the first privately owned gymnastics school in the state of Wisconsin, Peppermint Gymnastics Academy, Inc., opened its doors. With a staff of six instructors, (including Aimee (Auer) Mickelson), housed in the gym at St. Rose School, the enrollment grew in a short time to the tune of three hundred students. They soon needed more space so the club moved to Sokol Hall on Lincoln Street for a couple of years and then back to St. Rose, only to move to the Rapids Plaza in the early 1980's. Bob dreamed of having his own facility which was realized in the winter of 1986, at our present location at Golf and Romayne.
Years later, a second gymnastics school opened in Racine, The Harbor Club. In the mid 1990's the two gyms merged into what is now called the Racine Gymnastics Center. We still retained our original name for the Peppermint Preschool Program specially designed for children of walking to school age. In the following years our enrollment has been as high as eight hundred with 28 qualified staff members, some of which were students in the infancy of our organization. We are proud to provide more than a quarter century of quality gymnastics services to a wide range of schools, organizations, daycare centers, churches, and boys and girls clubs in our area.
With the collaborative efforts of both Tom, Aimee, and their staff, Bob Auer's vision and legacy will remain with us for years to come.
Our Founder: Robert "Bob" Auer
Bob Auer attended Milwaukee public schools during his childhood. During college, he studied at the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, where he earned a Bachelors Degree in Biology and Physical Education. In college his interests in sports, particularly gymnastics, grew into a life long passion.
In 1957, he went on to earn his Masters Degree in counseling from Winona State University. He coached the local high school track team until 1962, at which time he decided to move to Racine to pursue an opportunity to set up a gymnastics program through the Racine Park and Recreating Department. During this period he taught classes at Starbuck Junior High School and coached their track, football, and gymnastics teams until 1967.
Fall of 1967, began what turned out to be, thirty years of dedicated service as a vocational counselor, and a coach for boys and girls gymnastics, football, and track teams at Horlick High School.
In the mid 1970's, Bob opened the first privately owned gymnastics facility in the state of Wisconsin. His endless enthusiastic devotion helped many children and young adults develop not only the physical skills needed to compete in sports, but also laid the foundations one uses during their life experiences such as working hard, setting goals, persevering even when things look unachievable, sportsmanship like behavior, teamwork, positive self-esteem, individuality, respect, and dedication, to name only a few.
In the spring of 1998, Bob (father of 8), died unexpectedly, at the age of 63, due to complications after heart surgery. His legacy at the gym has continued to flourish through the efforts of two of his children Tom Auer and Aimee (Auer) Mickelson along with their dedicated staff. RGC's mission continues to exemplify Bob's beliefs and aspirations.