Developing Exceptional Children..
Developing Great Athletes.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Neil Palmer
President & Boys Program Director

College: University of Nebraska
Degree: Masters in Business Administration

Certifications: CPR/AED, USAG Safe Sport Certified, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance

Bio: Neil was introduced to tumbling at the age of three under the tutelage of his father, Len Palmer. He began gymnastics in Addison, IL at the age of six. Neil went on to win the Junior Olympic National Horizontal Bar Championship and became a three-time member of the United States Junior National Team, while training at the American Academy of Gymnastics. He competed for Addison Trail High School, gathering three team state championships, the parallel bar title and the National High School All-Around championship.


Neil earned a full gymnastics scholarship to the University of Nebraska. As a Cornhusker, he became an NCAA All-American and a member of the United States National Team. Some top accomplishments include: Competing in the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Trials and winning the A.A. Championship at the 1987 United States Olympic Festival.

Neil has been coaching developmental through team-level boys and girls gymnastics since the age of 15. He has developed Palmer’s boys and girls into medal winning national-level competitors, as a stepping stone to producing collegiate scholarship winners.

He lives in Bloomingdale with his wife Debbie (Palmer’s Co-Owner) and their son, Brady


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Debbie Palmer
Vice President & Girls Program Director

College: University of Akron (Undergraduate), Baldwin Wallace (Graduate)
Degree: Bachelor Degree in Business Communication, Masters of Arts Degree in Education
Certifications: CPR/AED and First Aid, Certified Elementary Education and Reading Specialist,
USAG Safety and Professional Member, K.A.T certified, Skill Evaluator, Meet Director,
and PDP levels I and II accreditations, USAG Safe Sport Certified, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance

Bio: Debbie moved to Illinois from Medina, Ohio in 1997 to join the Palmer’s coaching staff. Debbie’s coaching background includes coaching developmental gymnasts through level 10 National Team members. At the age of 5, Debbie began gymnastics at Fegley’s Gymnastics School in New Jersey. After her family moved to Ohio, she continued her gymnastics career at Gymnastics World, advancing to the Class I level.

In her spare time, Debbie enjoys traveling, skiing, swimming, listening to music and spending time with her husband, Neil, and her son, Brady. Although she loves all sports, her heart belongs to gymnastics.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Amanda Arendt
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Elmhurst College
Degree: Exercise Science
Certifications: First Aid & CPR/ AED, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Amanda has been involved with gymnastics at Palmer's since the age of 4. She competed in the AAU & USAG program here and has enjoyed every aspect of it. She later continued her career at Glenbard North High School on the varsity team, becoming team captain her junior year.

She is currently attending Elmhurst College, where she is majoring in exercise science and minoring in spanish. After Elmhurst she plans to continue on with her studies to become a physical therapist.

In her free time Amanda enjoys spending time with her family, friends and dog. She also likes working out and baking.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Marina Bakopoulos
Gymnastics Instructor, Office Staff and Team Ballet Instructor

Certifications:  USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Marina Bakopoulos has been involved with the dance world for 35 years and teaching for 23 years. She has taught at several studios in the Chicagoland area. Her love is in rhythm tap. She has earned scholarships and has performed all over, sharing the stage with Savion Glover, Dianne Walker and her mentor Bruce Stegmann;  including the Chicago Human Rhythm Project, National Tap Dance Day Chicago, Great America, Tappin’ In The Twin Cities and more. Chicago Tribune hailed her as a “fierce soloist” when she danced on stage for Gregory Hines.

Marina had her own rhythm tap company, Tap Tap, for several years. They earned many awards and performed across the USA. She has taught master classes at the Minnesota Tap Festival (TITC) and around at studios. Her students have performed at several competitions and earned many prestigious awards: Miss Dance Explosion, choreography awards and high point awards. Her students have also performed at Disneyland, Chicago’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and The Orange Bowl.

After 19 years she continues teaching ballet and gymnastics at Palmer’s Gymnastics and choreographs for competitions around the Chicagoland area when time allows. She loves watching her students excel! She lives in Chicago with her husband, son, stepdaughter, stepson and the newest additions to her family, the twins, Yanni & Niko.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Christina Cisko
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Northern Illinois University
Degree: Bachelor of Science in Education with an Endorsement in Art
Certifications: CPR/ AED and First Aid, Certified K-12 Art Teacher, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Christina is a mom of 3 children, Elizabeth, Olivia,& Nicholas. Her children have been taking gymnastics at Palmer’s for 7 years and her daughter Olivia is on team. Growing up she was a competitive ice skater for 8 years, skating both individually and on a precision team. Christina grew up in Naperville and graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Education with an Endorsement in Art. She is a certified teacher and taught art at Cowlishaw Elementary School in Naperville for 11 years. Currently she is teaching preschool at Masters Christian Preschool in Carol Stream for 2-5 year olds and also teaches an art camp in the summer. Christina has a passion for teaching children and watching them grow and is excited to start this new journey at Palmer’s.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Jordan DeClerk
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Stanford University 

Degree: Major in Bioengineering
Certifications: USAG Safe Sport Certified,

Bio:  Jordan started gymnastics at a very young age and spent many years competing for Palmer’s! While with Palmer’s, he qualified for the Boys Junior National Championships multiple times. After he graduated from Lake Park High School he continued his gymnastics and educational career at Stanford University. He competed for the Stanford Men’s Gymnastics Team from 2014 – 2017, where the team placed 2nd in the nation in both 2015 and 2016. He graduated from Stanford with a Major in Bioengineering and now performs computer systems validation work for America's first commercially approved gene therapy company.

JORDAN DECLERK



GYMNASTICS INSTRUCTOR




College: StanfordUniversity
Degree: Major in Bioengineering
Certifications: USAG Safe Sport Certified



Bio: Jordan started gymnastics at a very young age and spent many years competing for Palmer’s! While with Palmer’s he qualified for the Boys Junior National Championships multiple times. After he graduated from LakeParkHigh School he continued his gymnastics and educational career at StanfordUniversity. He competed for the Stanford Men’s Gymnastics Team from 2014 – 2017 where the team placed 2nd in the nation in both 2015 and 2016. He graduated from Stanford with a Major in Bioengineering and now works quality control for one of the world’s first gene therapy companies.





paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Sarah DeStefano
Gymnastics Instructor

College: College of Dupage
Degree: Associates in Science, Exercise Science 
Certifications: First Aid & CPR/ AED, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Sarah has been involved with gymnastics and dance at Palmer's since the age of 3. She competed in the USAG program until high school. She later continued her career at Glenbard West High School on the Varsity team all four years. One of her accomplishments was helping her high school team finish fourth place at state her senior year. Coach Sarah has competed for over 15 years and now enjoys coaching at Palmer’s where she started her career.

In her free time Sarah enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She also likes working out and playing with her puppy Bella.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Kylie Fischer
Gymnastics Instructor

College: University of Wisconsin Oshkosh
Degree: Bachelors in Kinesiology with an emphasis in exercise science
              Masters in Healthcare administration at Southern New Hampshire University       

Certifications: USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Kylie started her gymnastics career at the age of 3. She completed at Palmer’s since the age of 7. She was a level 10 gymnast for 4 years where she qualified to the Nastia Cup and was at the N.I.T. twice. She then competed collegiate gymnastics for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh as an all around gymnast. She currently lives in Wauconda with her boyfriend and two dogs. 


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Amy Fuentes
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Metropolitan State College of Denver

Degree: Major in Human Development, Minor in Elementary Education

Certifications: CPR/AED, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Amy grew up in Colorado and began gymnastics at age 5. She competed in both USAG and high school gymnastics ending her career with two years as a Level 10. Some of her accomplishments were competing in four Region III Championships, 4-Years CHASSA All-Conference and helping her high school team finish in the top 3 all four years. Amy has been coaching all levels of gymnastics since 2003 and loves working with the gymnasts here at Palmer's. Amy has been coaching at Palmer’s for 10 years. Her passion is coaching the whole athlete and encouraging girls to grow into confident, strong and determined young women! Her favorite event to coach is bars!

Amy lives in Carol Stream with her husband Carlos and children Joncarlo, Violet and Lincoln. Other than coaching, Amy enjoys being outdoors. Some of her favorite things to do are snowboarding, wake boarding, hiking and playing with her dog.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Carlos Fuentes
Gymnastics Instructor

College: University of Illinois at Chicago & Elmhurst College
Degree: Bachelor's Degree in Spanish, Masters in Teacher Leadership
Certifications: CPR/AED, AAU, Secondary Education Teaching Certification, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Carlos began doing gymnastics as a freshman at Glenbard East High School where he competed for four years. He was primarily a floor, vault and high bar specialist.

Carlos began his 20 year coaching career at the age of 18, coaching the Glenbard East boy’s Gymnastics Team where he stayed for six years. Carlos has had the opportunity to coach gymnasts of all ages and skill levels from beginner to Level 10. He has coached several teams to conference, regional championships and state championships and has had over twenty state qualifiers, finalists, and medalists. He is also the Head coach of the Girls Glenbard West Varsity Gymnastics Team that won the 2018 & 2019 IHSA State Championship! Carlos is also a 5 time Illinois High School Gymnastics Coach of the Year and has coached 10 individual IHSA State Champions!

Also, Carlos is a high school Spanish teacher and lives with his wife Amy, sons Joncarlo and Lincoln, daughter Violet and their dog Dexter in Wheaton.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Catherine Gonzales
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Northeastern Illinois University 
Degree: Bahelor Arts Degree in Seconday Education
Certifications: AED/CPR, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance

Bio: Catherine has been involved with gymnastics since she was a tot. Catherine earned a four year gymnastics scholarship to Northeastern Illinois University. Catherine taught high school physical education for 8 years where she was the assistant gymnastics coach for both the boys and girls varsity teams.

Catherine is currently the Level 4 - 6 Team and Xcel coach. She also assists at all gymnastics levels.

She lives in Wheaton with her husband. Both of her children were Palmer's Gymnasts who went on to collegiate gymnastics.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Mike Harrast
Gymnastics Instructor

College: Ohio State University

Degree: Sociology

 Certifications: USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Mike attended Addison Trail High School from 1978 to 1982, where he competed on the varsity gymnastics team all four years under coach, Fred Dennis.  He also attended American Academy and took Len Palmer’s tumbling class with Coach Neil. His high school teams won the state championship competition 3 out of his 4 years. He then attended Ohio State University, where he was a member of two Big Ten Championship Teams. He loves the sport of gymnastics and he is very happy to be coaching at Palmer’s allowing him to stay connected to this great sport.

 He has a cat named Lily who runs his household. He also enjoys running, bicycling, swimming and attending live music venues.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Alyssa Hayward
Gymnastics Instructor

College: St. Xavier University

Degree: Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing

Certifications: Certified School Nurse, BLS-CPR, Safe Sport Certified


Bio: Alyssa started gymnastics around the age of 4 at Palmer’s Gymnastics. She started in the recreational classes and soon transitioned to Training Team where she competed for Palmer’s Gymnastics until the age of 15. Alyssa fractured her back when she was 15 years old and took some time off to heal. Upon return to the sport, she began practicing with the High School program at Palmer’s Gymnastics and later completed for Addison Trail High School. Alyssa received All Conference her Junior Year in high school and went on to compete in the Sectional Competition both her Junior and Senior Year.


Alyssa attended St. Xavier University for nursing school and graduated in 2013. She has worked In various health/medical units during her career as a nurse, including a geriatric psych. unit, labor and delivery unit, pediatrician’s office and currently as a certified school nurse in Elmhurst.


Alyssa has been coaching for Palmer’s Gymnastics on and off for many years since her gymnastics career ended in 2009. She recently started coaching more consistently in early 2018 and she coaches recreational gymnastics and tot gymnastics. She enjoys working with children of all ages and being able to watch them grow and succeed in the sport.


Alyssa lives in Carol Stream with her husband Preston and her daughter Paisley who has also shown a love for the sport at a young age. She also has two furry dogs, Ava and Ellie, both Australian Shepherds with lots of energy!

paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Melissa Libel
Gymnastics Instructor & Office Staff

College: North Central College
Degree: Bachelor of Art in Psychology and Sociology
Certifications: CPR/AED, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Melissa started her dance career at the age of 5 with Moves Dance Theater. By the age of 10, Melissa was competing nationally with Moves Dance Studio and winning various top scores and scholarships. Also as a child, Melissa performed in various galas and charity events hosted by Sesame Street’s Bob McGrath at Navy Pier. Her T.V. and film credits include Baby’s Day Out, The Untouchables and a True Value Hardware commercial.

Melissa has also performed with many local theater groups. When Melissa was 14 she was chosen to tour with the national production of The Tap Dance Kid. She was SCHR scholarship recipient 3 years in a row and had the opportunity to perform for and tap on stage with legends Savion Glover and Gregory Hines.

Throughout her years in high school, Melissa continued to compete with Perseverance Dance Company. Fresh out of high school Melissa began teaching, choreographing and instructing master classes throughout the Chicagoland area. After teaching ballet for the gymnasts here at Palmers, Melissa was trained to coach tot gymnastics.

Melissa continues to be a recognized at competitions with choreography awards, high scores and other special awards. Melissa has a wonderful husband named Brian and two beautiful kids, Skylar and Brody. Skyler is a Level 6 gymnast here at Palmer's. She is extremely excited to share her love of dance and gymnastics with the kids at Palmer's and work up front in the office!


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Jake Luketin
Gymnastics Instructor

College: University of Illinois

Degree: Major in Kinesiology

Certifications: CPR/AED, K-12 Teaching Certification, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Jake attended Lake Park High School where he competed on the Varsity Boys Gymnastics Team for four years. He attended college at the University of Illinois where he competed for the Flippin’ Illini Club Gymnastics team.

Since graduating college, Jake has coached gymnastics as the assistant boys team coach at the Champaign YMCA and the assistant girls gymnastics coach at Glenbard West High School. Jake currently is the head girls gymnastics coach at Lake Park High School. When he is not coaching, Jake teaches P.E. in Addison School District 4. Jake brings with him a true knowledge of gymnastics, as well as a love of the sport.



paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Jason MacDonald
Gymnastics Instructor

College: University of Michigan

Degree: Major in Exercise Science, Masters in Exercise Science

Certifications: CPR/AED, USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Jason has been involved with gymnastics since the age of 5 as a gymnast, coach and judge. He is a four year letter winner and scholarship athlete at the University of Michigan. He has coached many Regional and National Qualifiers, as well as several State and Regional Champions.

Jason and his wife Donna live in Montgomery with their twin daughters, Makenzie and Katie, daughter, Jordyn, and 2 puggles, Oskee and Freddie. When not in the gym, Jason enjoys camping, biking, watching sports and producing and editing gymnastics content for Region 5 Gymnastics. He also is editor and chief of the Region 5 Gymnastics Insider.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Courtney Muir
Gymnastics Instructor

College: University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse (Undergraduate) & Northeastern IL

              University (Graduate)

Degree: Major in Spanish, Minor in Psychology, Masters in ESL

Certifications:  AAU/USAG Safe Sport

Bio:  Courtney started gymnastics at the age of 3 at Palmers where she became a level 10 gymnast and a 3 time Level 10 Region 5 Regional qualifier. 

Courtney then attended the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse where she became a 3 time All-American gymnast. 

She currently works at Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science.

In her spare time, she loves spending time with her husband, 6 month old daughter Molly, and her chocolate lab Maddux!


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Tammy Nash
Office Staff

College: Northern Illinois University (Undergraduate), Northeastern Illinois University (Graduate)
Degree: Bachelor's Degree in Child Development, Masters in Educational Administration
Certifications: Certified Education Administration -Type 75

Bio: Tammy was born and raised on the North side of Chicago. After High School she, her sister and her mother moved to McHenry, IL. After college Tammy married her high school sweetheart and moved back to Chicago.

Tammy really has a love for working with children. She began working with children of all ages while in high school.  After college she started her career working with severely disabled children and then went on to  manage pre-school programs in Chicago. Tammy has been working part time in the office at Palmer's since 2013.  She also works full time for Glenbard District 87 – Directions Program as an Instructional Supervisor with Juniors and Seniors.      

Tammy has 2 children.  One recently graduated from The Ohio State University and currently lives in Dayton, Ohio where he works as an engineer. And her daughter has been attending Palmer’s since she was 5 yrs. old and is currently a junior at Schaumburg High School on the varsity gymnastics team.

Tammy enjoys outdoor activities, gardening, cooking, decorating, crafts of any kind and taking road trips with her family!


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Carmen Shulman
Office Staff

College: Carroll University in Waukesha, WI
Degree: Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology & Master’s Degree in Physical Therapy
Certifications: Licensed Physical Therapist, CPR/AED/First Aid

Bio: Carmen was born in northern WI. She is a HUGE Green Bay Packer Fan! She met and married her husband Drew while in college and now lives in Elk Grove Village. She is raising three daughters (two of her daughters compete on the team at Palmer's) and a son. She enjoys being a wife and mother and spending time with friends and family.  She also enjoys fitness and has competed in several half marathons, triathlons and one full marathon. Her other interests include camping, scrapbooking, hiking, water sports and traveling. She joined the Palmer’s staff in January 2016.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Christina Sobey
Gymnastics Instructor & Office Staff

College: University of Arkansas at Monticello

Degree: Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration 

Certifications: ACE Certified Personal Trainer, CPR/AED, USAG Safe Sport Certified, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance 

Bio: Christina was a gymnast at Palmer’s from the age of 5 through 18. During her high school years she competed on Glenbard North’s Varsity gymnastics team where they won 3rd place at state in her Sophomore year. During the off-season, Christina trained with Coach Carlos Fuentes at Palmer’s. After the conclusion of her gymnastics career, Christina received a volleyball scholarship and attended the University of Arkansas at Monticello where she obtained her Bachelor’s degree.  Christina now works full-time in the Human Resources and Recruiting industry and coaches part-time with us at Palmer’s. In her free time she enjoys working out, coaching kids, spending time with family, and traveling.   


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Vanessa Srey
Office Staff

Bio: Vanessa grew up in Downers Grove, IL. and currently lives in Glendale Heights with her husband and three children. Vanessa has a degree in Travel & Tourism and in Paralegal studies.

She worked for the DuPage County Public Defender’s office in Wheaton. She currently works for the Airlines as well as Palmer’s gymnastics. She loves to travel and has pretty much traveled everywhere.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Debbie Terry
Office Manager

College: St. Joseph’s College

Degree: Major in Mathematics, Minor in Computer Science

Certficates: USAG Safe Sport Certified

Bio: Debbie worked for a small company doing general office work and customer service prior to having her three daughters. Debbie is the fourth oldest out of nine children and has many nephews and nieces. She is originally from South Bend, Indiana, and the only one who lives out of state so there are many road trips to Indiana for her and her family. Debbie is married and currently lives in Carol Stream with her husband, children and grandchildren.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Justin Toronyi
Gymnastics Instructor & Office Staff

College: College of Dupage and Northern Illinois University
Degree: Associate in Arts
Certifications: USAG Safe Sport Certified, AAU Professional Coaching Alliance

Bio:  Justin started gymnastics at the age of 5 and has been a part of Palmer’s Gymnastics since the age of 7. He was coached by Neil Palmer much of his gymnastics career. He had worked his way through USA Gymnastics competing in all state and regional competitions from Class 5 to Class 1. He had ambitions of competing at the collegiate level and beyond.

In 2001 he qualified for the Junior Olympic National Championships but a week prior to the competition he was involved in a car accident on his way home from practice, which left him paralyzed. Determined to stick with the sport he grew up with and loved, Justin changed roles from athlete to coach. After a couple of months of tough rehabilitation, Justin continued with school not missing any time and graduated with his class in 2002 from Lake Park High School.

Justin has been coaching at Palmers for 19 years and has loved every minute of it!

He believes the sport of gymnastics is one of the most difficult and rewarding sports out there. Gymnastics can teach kids so many different life lessons, such as never giving up and that if you put your mind and effort into something you can accomplish anything! Gymnastics is one of the rare sports where all these little experiences of falling and getting back up, and doing a skill even though you might be afraid of it, can really be applied to so many situations throughout your life!

Justin also enjoys music and going to concerts. He has many favorite bands. He is also a huge Chicago Cubs, Blackhawks, Bears & Nebraska Husker Fan. He lives in Roselle with his family and puppy, Ivy.


paddedimage141180 Palmers gymnastics inc13 Olivia Walker
Gymnastics Instructor & Office Staff

College: Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, IN

Degree: Bachelors of Science in Nursing

Certifications: AED/CPR certified and AAU Safe Sport

Bio:  Olivia was a gymnast at Palmer’s from the age of 5 through high school and also competed on her high school gymnastics team. She also coached at Palmer’s during the summer in college. Olivia attended Saint Mary’s College where she graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Nursing in 2010.  She worked at Evanston Hospital on the medical oncology floor for three years. After marrying her husband in 2012, she and her family were transferred to St. Paul Minnesota and then Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. In 2016, Olivia and her husband, Nick were transferred back to Illinois and they now live in Wood Dale with their two kids, Elizabeth (4) and Teddy (1). Both attend class at Palmer’s.




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