Valentino started his sports career in judo at the age of 13. Even though he was advancing very fast in judo he was fascinated from the acrobatics he could observe through the window of the gym located just next door. One summer, after overcoming most of his older judo team members, he decided to try the sports acrobatics program. Valentino advanced in several years to the master level and defended the title of “Master of Sports of Acrobatics.” He competed through college in competitive sports acrobatics, producing several top level national team members and masters of acrobatics athletes as their competitive partner. Valentino graduated a 4-year mechanical engineering school, receiving a diploma for mechanics, draftsman, fitter and turner. Valentino continued his education and attended the National Sports Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria where he graduated with a dual Masters degree and diploma in Sports Acrobatic Training and Physical Education teaching.
Valentino immigrated to South Africa in 1996, where he and his friend were the first acrobatic coaches from Bulgaria. There he coached sports acrobatics, tumbling and double mini trampoline, claiming several national and international titles with his athletes. Around 70% of the South African Acrobatics National Team at that time were coached by Valentino in Johannesburg and Pretoria. For his contribution to the international popularity and mastery of Sport Acrobatics, Valentino was awarded the title “Honorable Coach” from the Bulgarian Acrobatics Federation. Valentino’s next stops were Australia and California, USA. Valentino lived and coached most of his stay in the US in California, having the unique opportunity to work and learn to coach Girls Artistic Gymnastics from some of the best clubs and coaches in the industry. Valentino enjoys working with all levels of gymnastics. He has numerous State and Regional titles with his athletes in Girls Artistic Gymnastics and T&T. Some of his athletes he coached were Bulgarian, South African National team members, claiming medals at European and World Championships in Acro. The Central Coast competitive gymnastics for girls got a huge opportunity to work with one of the best coaches in the US, with his back ground, training, and experience…………………..he is “THE BEST”. We are honored to work with him every day at CCG since he arrived in March 2013. Want to learn from the BEST, this is where you train on the Central Coast!
In the US, Valentino assistant coached Elite gymnasts Tabitha Yim, Alyse Ishino, and Ashley Jenkins, all National Team members. Alyse Ishino was 2004 Olympics alternate. Many of the athletes he coached attended highly ranked universities on a scholarship. Valentino is happily married to his wife Sioux and has two daughters, Nina, born 6/6/06, and Luna, born 5/23/13.
Sunny was born in Charleston, South Carolina and came to California when she was six. She moved to the Central Coast the summer of 2014 from Bakersfield, CA. Some of Sunny’s interests are working out, running on the beach, traveling, dancing, and choreographing. She loves seafood and trying new things. Sunny started participating in gymnastics as a young girl and was proficient through level five. She then got an interest in competitive cheerleading. She competed until she was 19 years old and was on a level five squad. Sunny has been coaching gymnastics since she was 15 years old, when she was offered a job by a local recreational program and excitedly took it. After high school she went to Bakersfield College and also kept working in the gymnastics field. She loves coaching preschool aged children and is credentialed in Early Childhood Education. She’s attended many National Cheerleading Competitions as both an athlete and a coach. She is a certified USAG professional coach with over 20 years of experience. She has taken many athletes, with great success to our state meets, bringing home many first place medals and team banners & trophies.
Sunny has a passion for her students, her sport, and the work she does with her teams. Always striving for performance excellence on the team and individual levels, her dedication to the safety and well-being of her students is paramount. Sunny is both a coach and mentor, in every sense of of the words. Sunny has built many lifetime relationships with her athletes and families. Her favorite things to do are exercise, coach, eat healthy, and be with her wonderful boyfriend!
Shannon Merritt is CCG’s Girls Team Adviser, as well as the Gym Manager here at Central Coast Gymnastics Sports Center. My love for gymnastics started when I saw Nadia Comaneci win the All Around Gold Medal in the 1976 Olympics. I was 10 years old then and began taking gymnastics classes. I competed for my Jr. High and High School in Clovis, CA. At age 16 I began coaching at Clovis and I began judging at age 18. I attended Cal Poly and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Education with a concentration in teaching. I worked as the head coach of Atascadero Gymnastics for six years while I attended college. I had my first two children here in SLO and then my husband joined the Air Force after college. We moved to New Mexico where I worked as a head coach for a local gym. I obtained my Masters Degree in Public Administration and I became a level 10 judge. Our family was transferred to the island of Guam where I opened my own recreational gymnastics program, continued to judge gymnastics, and got a great tan! Our next adventure was a 3-year stay in England. I worked as a coach and a choreographer for an optional team there and passed my International Gymnastics Judging Exam. I had the wonderful opportunity to judge at the international level. Our military adventure ended in 2003 and we came back to the beautiful SLO. I started working at CCG in July of 2003 as the gym manager and girl’s optional coach. After more than 20 years of coaching and seeing many different gymnastics programs, I am thrilled to be working in the positive and fun environment I find here at CCG. My hope for each of our gymnasts is that they will gain self confidence and responsibility, learn to work hard and enjoy physical activity, and take pride in themselves for their effort and achievement in the challenging sport of gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, cheer, dance, and all the other programs CCG offers. This knowledge, judging training & experience, along with all the years in the industry Makes Shannon one the most knowledgeable experts on the Central Coast, right here at CCG!