The history of Universal Gymnastics spans 25 years, 3 locations, 1 renovation, and a huge dream.

I am originally from Louisville, Kentucky. I attended Dupont Manual High School. I was a cheerleader all four years and captain my senior year. I was very surprised to be chosen as I was a very quiet and shy. I was self-taught and determined, I would intensely watch others do gymnastics and trained on my own. I’m lucky to be alive! During high school, I also attended and performed in musicals at the Youth Performing Arts School in Louisville where I enjoyed dance, music and drama. I attended the University of Louisville, majoring in business and minoring in music. My dream was to become a singer and learn to play musical instruments. I sang for friends and family at weddings and family gatherings.

I took my first gymnastics class in college for a PE credit. Between classes I would watch the University‘s gymnastics team practice. Later, I received a grant to work at the school in the gymnastics department to pay back my tuition. I became obsessed and worked out on my own as often as I could, bars was my favorite event. The following year the University dropped its gymnastics program, it broke my heart. Gymnastics wasn’t a part of my life for many years after that, I got married, had children, and my family became my life. I moved to Nashville in 1983 and worked at the bank in their legal department, never letting go of the dream to sing but, between family and work, there was not much time. After a few years, I left the bank to work at a law firm and stayed there for many years. In 1990, I got a second job working part time at the YMCA in Donelson coaching gymnastics. I loved being around the sport again. I taught part time for three years, that is what inspired me to resign from the legal field and open “Universal Gymnastics, Inc.”, founded simply for the love of the sport. Before I left my job, my boss told me I would be back, that gave me all the determination I needed to be successful in my business.

Twenty-two years later, I’m still doing what I love. I am married to Johnny Graves. We have five beautiful daughters and seven precious grandbabies and life couldn’t be more perfect!

-Vikki Childress-Graves