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Perham tabs new gymnastics coach

PERHAM, Minn. - The eight-time state champion Perham gymnastics program had little time to replace former head coach Charlie Fleck after his contract was not renewed for this season a month before the first meet.

PERHAM, Minn. - The eight-time state champion Perham gymnastics program had little time to replace former head coach Charlie Fleck after his contract was not renewed for this season a month before the first meet.

His replacement was groomed under Fleck's championship tutelage.

Jenna Schmitz was a member of six of the eight state titles and a three-time individual state champion, winning back-to-back uneven bars titles from 2008-2010 and the 2010 all-around championship.

While Fleck created the program from acquiring the first trampoline in Perham, right alongside him was Schmitz. While change has been brewing heavily in Perham regarding gymnastics, how the program is run will be similar.

"I'm probably pretty damn close to Charlie," Schmitz said. "From the first day the program existed in Perham, I was there. Obviously, through those 13 years, he was like my second dad. A lot of how I coach will be reflected in the way I coach - from techniques, spotting, being strict and loud, it's exactly how I coach."

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Little has been expressed publicly about Fleck's departure. The Lakes Area Gymnastics board released a statement to parents in October that was leaked to media. The board has had no comment since.

The school board voted to not renew Fleck's contract a few weeks later with all members voting as such, aside from Mike Hamann, who abstained.

"Something good came of what (Fleck) did - eight straight titles. He's a good coach and whatever happened, I only have good things to say about his coaching. He knew what he was doing and as I said in my coaching interview I was lucky to have him. Not everybody can say they've never known losing at state. He did that and he taught me how to coach and handle situations."

Williams is the sports editor of the Perham Focus

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