Rene “Frenchy” Kern is another unhearalded coach who had a tremendous influence East Coast gymnastics. He went about his coaching duties as Director of the famous Central Branch YMCA of Brooklyn, NY for 30 years. It was during the time of their competition heydays.
Rene Kern was another graduate of the famous teacher education school at Springfield College. Under his direction the YMCA had a touring exhibition team of 18 men and 16 women that toured the Eastern Seaboard giving exhibitions to large groups of YMCA members, high schools and civic organizations. In his words the introduction of the ladies to the group “has added a great deal to this exhibition team.” More people came to see gymnastics especially when the women were merged into the various gymnastic scenarios with the men.
Rene was more than likely a Director and a Coach. He co-authured EXHIBITION GYMNASTICS (New York: Association Pres, 1969) with Leslie J. Judd, Original class of GHOF, (1959) and Thomas DeCarlo. The book provided insights into the world of exhibition gymnastics that is the area in which Kern had the greatest influence. In addition, he made progress reports, the most notable of which is Kern, Rene J., Calisthenics and the Brooklyn Central YMCA. Note: The YMCA’s and the Turners tended to call their “coaches,” by other titles, such as Instructor, but it is assumed that the term “Director,” in this case, meant just that. Honors: Kern was selected to receive the Honor Coach Award, (1971). The first Honor Coach Award of the C.G.A. was presented in l954. This award is given annually to a member-coach of twenty-five years or more who has gained the admiration of his coaching associates. The award reads as follows: “In recognition of his service in coaching and developing gymnastics for over twenty-five years. He has gained the respect of his associates in the gymnastics world by his inspiring example and accomplishments.” The Honor Coach Award Committee selects the recipient of this award each year by secret ballot. The chairman presents this, the most prestigious of all gymnastics coaches’ awards, at the annual spring meeting.
Sources: Jerry Wright provided information about Kern’s contributions and his photo. A. Bruce Frederick provided the Lind Drawing. Honor Coach Award information courtesy of with additional information courtesy of www. special.lib.umn.edu/. Introduction and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.