MEET OUR STAFF!
ALL STAR COACHES
Darion Knight, Owner
Darion Knight is an owner of Leaps & Bounds and is also the lead instructor. He began participating in gymnastics at the age of three. During his gymnastics career, Darion won state and regional championships and was the IHSA floor champion in 1993. Darion was also a member of the regional team and the Junior National Developmental Team which allowed him to train at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Unfortunately, a serious injury to his shoulder ended his competitive gymnastics career. Currently, Darion is a Principal Coach and Program Specialist for the Oak Park Gymnastics Center. For over 20 years, he has coached all levels of gymnastics and has coached several gymnasts to state and national level competitions. Darion is a professional member of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of gymnastics in the United States. He is also a certified USA Gymnastics National Judge as well as USAG safety certified. Darion is a member of the Illinois state coaching staff.
Jon Klemens has been coaching gymnastics for 19 years at Ultimate Gymnastics in Gurnee, IL. He has coached numerous athletes to state and regional titles, national team members, and collegiate athletes. Jon is also USAG safety certified and is part of the Illinois State coaching staff. As an athlete, Jon competed nationally for 12 years before injuries caused him to stop competing and focus on coaching. During his competitive career, he had multiple state and regional titles, was part of region 5 men's team, and the developmental national team. Jon has continued his education in the sport and is now a JO/national judge.
Justin Maxwell is a former collegiate gymnast at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His love for gymnastics and tumbling began in a small gym located in the south suburbs of Chicago. As he developed, he began training competitively with Darion Knight at the Chicago Park District. Under Darion’s tutelage, Justin became a top prospect in Illinois as an all-around gymnast in the USA Junior Olympic program. He is a former Illinois State Champion, Regional All Around Champion, IHSA State Champion, and National qualifier. Justin continued his success through his collegiate career earning spots on a 12 man roster to compete at multiple NCAA Championships and back to back ECAC Conference Championship teams. Justin retired in the spring of 2014 but is still very involved in the sport of gymnastics. He is currently a USAG National Judge and coaches on weekends with dreams of helping others achieve their competitive goals.
Neil Faustino was a competitive gymnast for 15 years. He competed in college for the University of Illinois Chicago as an all arounder. In 2003, he competed in the South East Asian games representing the Philippine national team in Hanoi Viet Nam. He won the gold medal on rings that year and helped the team win a 3rd place award. In 2004, Neil was an all American on vault, placing 6th in the country at the NCAA finals. In 2005, he represented the Philippines again at the South East Asian games, taking 3rd place on rings and helping the team finish third place. Neil started coaching boys gymnastics for the Chicago Park district in 2010. Since being with the park district, he has generated a national champion on Floor in 2014 and a 2nd place vault finisher in 2015. Neil currently holds a spot on the Illinois state coaching staff.
Brett Valin has been a competitive gymnast for 14 years. He has competed at many different levels all across the country, and has been involved with many successful gymnastics programs over the years. Brett began at Ultimate Gymnastics in Gurnee, Illinois with his coach, Jon Klemens. With Jon's help, he was able to continue his gymnastics career in college at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During his time at UIC, Brett had many accomplishments and awards. He became a captain of the team and is the UIC school record holder on Vault. Brett is very passionate about the sport of gymnastics and wants to help others improve their skills to better their own careers.
Reggie Orr has been participating in gymnastics since the age of 10. He was one of the first members of a growing tumbling team at Lindblom Park in Chicago, IL. Reggie's tumbling coach recognized his talent and suggested that he try gymnastics. At the age of 13, he began his competitive gymnastics career at the Chicago Park District. With his new coach, Reggie became a multi-time regional champion on Vault, Still Rings, and Floor. Reggie has now been coaching gymnastics and tumbling for the Chicago Park District for over 17 years. During his coaching career, Reggie has produced State and Regional Champions as well as National Junior Olympic and Junior Elite Qualifiers. Two of his gymnasts have made the Future Stars National Developmental Team. Reggie's proudest coaching moment was being invited to the White House to coach gymnastics in front of the President and First Lady.
Jillian Knight, Owner
Jillian Knight is an owner of Leaps & Bounds and is also the Operations Manager. She is in charge of planning, directing, and coordinating the daily operations of the company. Jillian is a member of USA Gymnastics and she assists with coaching Leaps & Bounds gymnastics and tumbling classes. In 2009, Jillian obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work from Aurora University. During her years as a social worker, she spent most of her time counseling at risk children with the goal of teaching them important life skills and helping them develop positive self-esteem. Currently, Jillian is the Director of Operations for a non-profit organization serving children and adolescents in the Chicagoland area.
Bernadette Panik is a Leaps & Bounds gymnastics and tumbling instructor. Bernadette has been enjoying the sport of gymnastics both competitively and recreationally since she was four years old. She graduated from Elmhurst College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Physical Education and Health. Additionally, she has earned a Type 10 Illinois teaching certification in Physical Education with a Health endorsement. Bernadette is a professional member of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of gymnastics in the United States, and she is also Safety Certified. Bernadette coached recreational gymnastics for two years at Dianne Durham’s Skyline Gymnastics in Chicago. She is currently in her third year of employment at Oak Park Gymnastics Center where she coaches tots, preschool, and recreational gymnastics, as well as the recreational competitive team.
Emily Costenaro is a Leaps & Bounds gymnastics and tumbling instructor. Emily entered the world of gymnastics when she was 3 years old. She quickly fell in love with the sport and competed in gymnastics for 15 years. She graduated from Lewis University in 2013 with her Bachelor of Arts degree in both Sports Management and Athletic Coaching. Emily is a professional member of USA Gymnastics, the national governing body of gymnastics in the United States, and she is also Safety Certified. Emily has been coaching gymnastics for 6 years and during this time, she coached preschool all the way through competitive team gymnastics. After coaching at IGI in Westmont, IL for 5 years, she became employed at the Park District of Oak Park where she currently works as a gymnastics coach.