Larry Dardano is a Denver native and attended North Denver High School from 1963 to 1966. He participated in varsity gymnastics, football and wrestling. He was awarded a gymnastics and football scholarship to Colorado State University. During his years at CSU, Larry’s gymnastics team placed 5th in the NCAA National Gymnastics Championships. After graduation he returned to North Denver High School as a science teacher, head gymnastics coach and assistant varsity football coach. The teams he coached were highly successful, especially his gymnastics teams. They were undefeated for five years in the Denver Public Schools gymnastics league. In 1983 Larry founded Dardano’s School of Gymnastics. Over the years, Dardano’s School of Gymnastics has instructed, trained and competed thousands of children in the Denver area. Larry is proud to say he has been in business for 30 years, been a coach for 40 years and been a part of the sport of gymnastics for 50 years!
Highlights for Larry and Dardano’s School of Gymnastics:
Gym Director/Girls Team Head Coach
You could say that Gina was literally born into the sport of gymnastics. Her father, Larry, was a gymnast in high school and college, and soon after Gina was born she was rolling and flipping, thanks to her daredevil of a dad. Gina grew up with a trampoline and spotting rig in her back yard in the Park Hill neighborhood. She and her two older sisters were always seen bouncing and cartwheeling around the yard.
In 1983 Larry opened Dardano’s School of Gymnastics and Gina’s gymnastics career took off. She was a “gym rat,” spending 90% of her time in the gym, always stirring up trouble. She competed for 13 years, advancing to USAG Level 10. She participated in state, regional and international competitions. Gina began teaching gymnastics in 1995. Some of her best friends today were her former teammates or former students she taught at Dardano’s. Gina loves teaching and is most proud knowing she is provides a fun gymnastics experience to so many children, and she, and all of the staff at Dardano’s are making a difference in the lives of everyone that is a part of the gym.
When Gina is not at the gym you can find her spending time with her family, her husband, Eric and their 2 little gymnasts, Crosby and Oakley. Keeping the family legacy of gymnastics alive!
Phyllis Dardano-‐Cipri came to Dardano’s after teaching for 14 years at Colorado Christian Home (a residential treatment facility for children with emotional disorders). Experiencing some burnout and the desire to get involved in a new career, she was encouraged by her brother, Larry, to get back into the world of gymnastics. The idea of working with her brother, working with children and being surrounded by a sport she loved, Phyllis gladly joined Dardano’s as office manager in 1987. When not at work, Phyllis loves a get-‐away! Her disco days have been replaced with massages, pedicures, meditation and belly laughs! It’s a good life! She has been married for 34 years, with three adult children, eight grandchildren and her two dogs, Lena and Guido.
Assistant Office Manager
Donyella Dardano was born in Denver in 1975 and was first introduced to the family trampoline as a baby in the family backyard in Park Hill. Growing up doing flips on that trampoline, soon all she cared about was gymnastics. In 1983, her father, Larry Dardano, opened Dardano’s School of Gymnastics. Donyella was at the gym day & night and she quickly excelled in gymnastics and eventually became one of our first competitive team members. Continuing competitions throughout her childhood and teen years, she eventually began coaching preschool through competitive team, while also working in our front office. Gymnastics was her whole life.
In 1995, at 20 years old, Donyella was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Ultimately she had to make the decision to stop coaching, however still wanted to remain a vital part of the family business. She continues to focus her energy as our assistant office manager. When Donyella is not at the gym, she especially enjoys getting her nails done and spending lots of quality time with her husband, family and friends.
Vita Dardano has been a member of the Dardano’s staff since 2004. You can find her friendly face behind the front desk here Dardano’s. She loves working with family and meeting all the families that come to our gym. When Vita is not at the gym, you can find her enjoying time with her husband, newborn son, DJ and 3-‐year-‐old daughter, Jaida, a third-‐generation gymnast!
Scott was born August 10, 1963 in Indianapolis, Indiana and moved to Colorado in 1971. He graduated from North High School in 1982 and trained as a gymnast under Larry Dardano on the North High team. Scott graduated Denver Technical College in 1986. He began coaching at Dardano’s in 1987 and was an ECE teacher for over 17 years for several childcare centers in the Denver area. Besides gymnastics, Scott is also an accomplished body builder competing in many competitions in the Rocky Mountain region from 1990-1994. Scott is trained in, and has taught many martial art disciplines including Tae Kwon Do, Jiu Jitsu and Capoeria (a Brazilian acrobatic martial art). He holds a 5th degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do, a green belt in Ninjutsu and a blue belt in Capoeria.
Juliana Phelps started as a beginning gymnast at Dardano’s School of Gymnastics in 1985. She competed for the team in the optional program as well as her high school gymnastics team and was one of three graduating gymnasts at Dardano’s in 1998.
She began her coaching career at Dardano’s in 1996 before leaving for college. While pursuing her undergrad in theater at the University of Denver, she coached for the DU youth rec program and ran several after school gymnastics programs at various elementary schools throughout Denver.
She used the skills she had learned as a gymnast at Dardano’s to become a cliff diver at Casa Bonita and continued on to pursue her dream as a stuntwoman in Hollywood and a high dive performer at various live shows around the world. While in Hollywood she continued to coach at several Southern California gyms including AOGC (the home of Kayla Maroney ’12 Olympics). She has finally returned to us and coaches all levels of gymnastics including our new crawlers class!
Juliana began judging gymnastics in 2003 and is now a Level 10 rated official for USA Gymnastics. She also judges Excel, AAU, and USAIGC, and is a former Colorado High School gymnastics judge. We are so grateful to have her back with us to share her wealth of knowledge and passion for our sport after so many years traveling the globe.