The rest of the world is trying to catch up.
While the sport of gymnastics seems to have leaped into prominence only within the past 25 years or so, local pioneers in the sport have been active for twice as long. Al and Sally Stumpf have been training local gymnasts for over 50 years. The addition of sons Eric and Kurt to the coaching ranks made the Stumpfs the first family of gymnastics in the Buffalo area.
Ellsworth (Al) met his wife Sarah (Sally) at the Buffalo Turners, Buffalo's only gymnastics club, in the late 1940's. In 1954, the couple organized their first of many gymnastics teams, several of which won national competitions. One of their star students was Kathy Gleason, who competed as a member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City.
In the early 1970's, the Stumpfs opened the Gymnastics School of Buffalo, the first private gymnastics training center in Buffalo. During this period, they also developed the women's gymnastics program at Canisius College, which became a state collegiate power in the sport. Winners of several New York State Championships, Canisius, under Al's tutelage, was also ranked sixth in the nation at one point. Sally taught physical education at Mount St. Mary's for over 27 years, and established that school's outstanding gymnastics program; son Kurt helped her coach two undefeated teams from 1979-1981.
The Stumpfs continued to expand their programs and their influence, with the 1978 opening of Stumpf's Gymnastics Center in Williamsville, now operated and managed by their sons. In time, several Stumpf students received accolades for themselves and their programs. One of Al's stars was Denise Tenney, who earned the Senior Women's Tumbling Championship in 1973 and became a member of the U.S. National Team. Sandy and Marilyn Rothenberg, who under the Stumpfs' guidance placed 14th and 15th, respectively, in the 1964 Olympic tryouts, later coached 1968 Olympian Kathy Gleason.
Eric and Kurt Stumpf, coached by their parents at Buffalo Turners, competed at Kenmore East High School and led the school to several Section VI titles. Kurt has coached at Williamsville South for over 22 years, compiling a 119-18 record and winning seven Section VI titles.
It is estimated that the Stumpf family has trained and coached over 10,000 local gymnasts, many of whom have secured college scholarships and national acclaim. Al and Sally Stumpf are members of the prestigious USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Indianapolis. Tonight, their contributions to local youth are recognized by induction into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.