About Cambridge Kips Gymnastics Club
How Kips Came to Be 
Our founders' dream to build a gymnastics club
In 1980, an exciting project was presented to the Preston Kinsmen when Don and Benita Rope, gymnastics instructors from Glenview High School approached the club with an exciting proposal. They asked the club to assist in building a new facility, as part of the existing Cambridge Kips Club, for training world-class athletes They had been using facilities in a couple school gyms but had to constantly tear down and reset the equipment due to the multiple use nature of the existing facilities.

The new building was to be situated on the riverbank side and behind the Preston Auditorium but adjacent to it. It was to have over 10,00 square feet of carpeted area, including a large gymnasium with a pit filled with foam for soft landings. There was to be a dance & practice hall next to the gymnasium, which would double as a meeting room for the Preston Kinsmen. Upstairs was for office space for the coaches and an area for junior gymnasts to practice. On the main floor was to be a lounge area for the exclusive use of the Kinsmen and a shared kitchenette. After extensive investigations by Kinsmen Richard Shantz of Richardson-Greenshields, it was eventually put to a vote at the Kinsmen Club. It was defeated the first time. However, a vote to reconsider, led to it eventually passing.   

Over 30 members signed personal loan guarantees with the Royal Bank for $2,000 each to back a $63,000 loan. This committed the club’s service dollars for several years of fundraising efforts. Ironically, it was later learned that most club members had not bothered to tell their wives that they had underwrote the loans. It did not become general knowledge for several years. Along with the Kinsmen’s pledge, a loan to the Kips from the city of $80,000, and with Wintario matching grant, the building cost of $240,000 was fully financed. A sod turning ceremony occurred on May 27th, 1981, attended by Cambridge Mayor Claudette Millar, Kinsmen President Jerry Whetham, Don and Benita Rope, among others.  

Several years later the Kinsmen Club again helped the Kips avoid defaulting on their loan from the city by paying $4,500 in back payments. They also assisted by sponsoring an annual gymnastics invitational meet hosted by the Kips. The Kips were, at that time only one of five gymnastics club in Canada that was accredited as a National Club. One of the first National & Olympic athletes who trained there was Sherry Hawco who had won a gold medal at the 1979 Pan Am Games, was on the 1980 Olympic team and in 1981 became the Canadian Senior women’s champion. 

Around 1989, the Kips began to grow. Needing to expand their gymnastic programs, they were quickly running out of room. So when the Preston Kinsmen became aware that the Preston Figure Skating Club were looking for additional funding to build a new facility to house their workshop for their annual ice show, they became involved in a new building project. In late December 1991, after 10 years at the KIPS Centre, they moved a short distance to their new home in the brand the Preston Kinsmen Centre, Home of the Preston Figure Skating Club.  

Since then extensive renovations at the Kips Centre has taken place and currently, the former Kinsmen lounge has been converted into a viewing area for the parents, and the kitchenette is now used for instructor offices. As a legacy to it’s beginnings, located inside the entrance of the Kips Centre is a plaque commemorating the efforts of the Preston Kinsmen in establishing the Cambridge Kips Centre.