The doors to the first NVGA Gymnastics facility opened along Glenn Drive in Sterling in April 1987. Fast forward 25 years, and the organization is still in business—now operating on Cape Court, off Loudoun County Parkway—training more than 300 athletes.
But the more than two-decade journey hasn’t been easy. Mike Comini, husband of owner Faith Comini, said NVGA endured periods of despair, as it has lacked customers and had to switch locations multiple times.
After receiving $20,000 from his grandmother to start a business, Mike Comini and his wife decided to start NVGA. She gave the same amount to five of her other grandchildren. “We are the only survivor of those six businesses that started,” Mike Comini said. “[My grandmother] is very proud of her grandson’s ‘flip school,’ as she called it.”
The first day NVGA was up and running, only one student arrived. Within three months, the Cominis couldn’t pay their bills. “So I got down on my knees and prayed and said, ‘God, don’t let me fail. My God I cannot fail,’” Mike Comini said. “I am not a real religious person, but when you are in the foxhole [it’s different].”
The following day, a woman who worked with a home-schooling group called in search of a gymnastics program for students. “She had come in with $750 and that got us to September, and the rest was history,” Mike Comini said. “After that, the gym grew to more than 600 kids.”
But in 1991, NVGA reached another hurdle. The building it was in on Glenn Drive foreclosed, forcing the Comini’s business to move to a new spot on Davis Drive. Maintaining business there for 19 years, NVGA moved in 2009 when a new landlord took over the property. John Tibbits, a member of Reston Bible Church, offered NVGA a space on Maries Road in Cascades in January 2011. At that time, NVGA had 25 students. By August 2011, that number grew to 200. “We were happy there, paying our bills, feeling like we finally had stability,” Mike Comini said.
However, Scott McCrae, coach at NVGA, came across the company’s current location in Cape Court, which is near Beaumeade Circle. “Scott talked us into coming out here,” Mike Comini said. “We opened up our doors here in November 2011. Today, we are at over 300 kids in the gym.”
Shae Whitehurst, an 11-year-old rising sixth-grader at Harmony Middle School, is one of those kids. She is part of the NVGA girls competitive team. “Shae, she is number one,” Mike Comini said. After all, Shae’s dream is to be part of the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics Olympic Team in the 2016 Brazil games.
She has been practicing gymnastics for eight years, but has only been training at NVGA for two and a half months. So far, she loves it. “There have been no problems,” Shae said. “All the people here are loving and caring…I felt invited in as a best friend.”
Macey Watson, coach at NVGA, is also new to the company, having started four months ago after moving to the area from Orlando. He chose to be part of the NVGA team because it resembles a “warm-hearted family.” “I love the people,” he said. “They are very kind and passionate about the sport.”
Indeed, it takes passion to run a business for 25 years, with many bumps along the way. “This has been my passion,” Mike Comini said. “This is what I love doing.”
For more information about NVGA, go to nvgagymnastics.com.