STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (WTAJ) — The silence is deafening inside of Nittany Gymnastics Academy in State College.
It was a place that once housed hundreds of kids of various ages in a given night.
“Probably between 200 to 220 children had come in and out of this facility on a daily basis,” said Jeannette Rizzuto, Vice President of Nittany Gymnastics Academy.
“It was always just very active, and fun, and loud, and the children use to love it, they enjoyed it.
Jeannette’s husband, Mike Rizzuto, bought the gym in 1993, from former Penn State Gymnastics Coach Steve Shephard, to continue to build what was growing at Nittany Gymnastics.
Jeannette says the gym was welcoming to anyone who wanted to try gymnastics.
“He would enable anybody to sign up, for the class programs, anybody who had an interest could sign up, they could try it out and if they loved it, they would sign up for a monthly basis, we had very few people who didn’t, but they could always stay as long as they wanted,” Jeannette added.
The gym just hit a milestone last year, eclipsing 30 years of having its doors open.
A celebration was scheduled for this past may, but with COVID-19 ravaging through the country, Jeannette was left with a tough decision.
Nittany Gymnastics Academy had to close its doors.
“Mike passed in October of 2018, he was Nittany Gymnastics, he started it, he founded it, he coached, he did everything,” Jeannette continued.
“I tried very hard to continue the gym, it just became very overwhelming for me, we tried to sell to employees, coaches that had been with him for 15-20 years, we were not able to do that, it didn’t work.”
An outside gym was prepared to buy the gym, but when COVID hit in march, the gym closed and never reopened.
The building has since been sold to an outside company that will be repurposing the building.
As Jeannette is forced to now liquidate the equipment, she says her lasting memories will be the smiles each day on the kids faces when they came into the gym.
“What I’m going to remember most is the smiling faces, the kids, they were just amazing, they loved it here, I can’t think of anytime when a child came through that door where they didn’t leave excited, happy and still full of energy.”