Brazilian coaches raising the bar here

At the Fort Frances Gymnastics Academy, raising the bar is an ongoing goal.
And with the help of a highly-qualified Brazilian couple here to take over coaching duties at the club, this summer promises to be one of the most successful to date.
While Rio de Janeiro native Adriana Ota already has been coaching at the academy for a year, her boyfriend, Alex Rosalina, was just hired two weeks ago as club manager and coach.
The two currently are running its summer day camp program, which began last week.
“We’re really happy to have Adriana and Alex,” said club administrator Chane Rissman. “They’re both high-level coaches.”
That may be an understatement. Both Ota and Rosalina are accomplished athletes who have competed on an international level. Ota, most notably, was on the Brazilian national gymnastics team and has competed at the Pan-American Games.
The 23-year-old also is a Brazilian champion in the vault event.
For his part, Rosalina, 35, is a black belt in judo, with 18 years of martial arts coaching experience under that belt. He also has seven years of training as a gymnast, and is a certified jujitsu instructor.
In addition, the two are qualified school teachers with plenty of teaching experience. Rosalina even has an M.A. in physical education.
So what are these two doing such a long way from the beaches of Rio?
Their Canadian odyssey began more than a year ago when Ota noticed an ad for a coaching job here in Fort Frances while surfing the Internet one day. Having visited Toronto a few months prior, she eagerly responded.
“When I came to Toronto, I loved Canada,” she said, finally relaxing after a full day of coaching the club’s summer camp last Friday.
After hearing back from club administrators, Ota traveled to Fort Frances at her own expense to visit the academy and have an interview.
Rosalina followed last November although he originally came just for a visit. By all accounts, he found it difficult to leave.
“Alex has been hanging around the club for a while so we decided to put him to work,” Rissman said.
Describing why he decided to stick around, Rosalina noted he likes the atmosphere here. “The people in Fort Frances are really friendly,” he said. “I decided to stay one more month, then one more month, then one more month. . . .”
Still, there are some things Rosalina misses about Brazil.
“I miss the weather, the ocean, and the beach,” he said, admitting he found the Canadian winter a little much to bear. “It’s better [here] in the summer.”
Besides the harsh weather, Rosalina immediately noticed other differences about life in Fort Frances.
“The people sleep early here,” he noted. “In Brazil, every day is like a party. People are on the street at 2 a.m.”
Ota, whose father is Japanese, said she was impressed with the multi-cultural energy of Canada, which she noted is similar to Brazil. But other aspects of the culture are glaringly different, she added, including the relatively low level of crime here.
“Here, it’s a safe place. In Brazil, it’s very dangerous,” she said.
Both agreed the most challenging part about working in Canada has been mastering English.
While the couple plans to stay and coach at the Fort Frances Gymnastics Academy for another year, neither is certain about what the future holds. Ota said she might extend her Canadian adventure.
“I want to travel more. I may go to Toronto for a while, or maybe Mississauga,” she remarked. “Anywhere that has a good gym.”
Will Rosalina follow? He shrugged. “Maybe,” he said. “I want to improve my English.”
As for the rest of the summer, the couple will keep busy teaching at the day camp and lining up training sessions for the upcoming months. Rosalina will be bringing in coach Robert Persechino from the Panthers Club in Winnipeg to teach Level II technical gymnastics and work with club athletes.
The couple also has planned a Level III theory course for September.
For information about this course, which is difficult to get in Fort Frances, call 274-2966.
In related news, Vicki Stinson has been hired by the Fort Frances Visserettes as a summer student. She will be assisting with coaching, taking NCCP courses, and working at the academy during the day.
She also will be selling tickets on a Body Shoppe basket of products, sponsored by local rep Bridget Dobransky, downtown and at the Clover Valley Farmers’ Market.