A Tribute to Kellie Hinnells
A leader by definition is someone with a vision, a path to realizing that vision and someone who ensures their team is inspired, motivated and supported. Kellie Hinnells was that person for the Ontario gymnastics community. Kellie loved planning events, hosting holiday parties, fundraising, team building, OFFSA, qualifiers, Provincial or National Championships, Ontario Winter Games, International Children’s Games, or Pan American Games, Kellie’s talents and passion for gymnastics enveloped her team. She led by example. Kellie was very successful in all the events she hosted, but was very humble and would more often than not, stand back and give credit to those who contributed, as she knew the importance of making people feel valued. Kellie was extremely respectful and thankful of others hard work efforts.
For over thirty years Ontario’s athletes, coaches, judges, volunteers, Board of Directors, benefitted from Kellie’s tireless efforts, experience, organizational skills, and more importantly her inclusiveness. That was perhaps one of Kellie’s best attributes as a leader. Her door was always open, and her office displayed her love of all things Disney, Tigger, ducks and special memories of events and people. Whether you were an athlete, a peer, an employee, or an extension of her immediate gymnastics’ family, you immediately became her centre of attention and were welcomed with her warm smile. She always approached you with kindness but more importantly with respect. Kellie was an amazing listener and that allowed you to develop an instant connection. She was generous with her time. On a professional or personal level Kellie was there to help you solve any problem and ensured you left her office with a boost of confidence and a plan of action. You knew that Kellie was now in your corner. You had become part of her family but more importantly she had become part of yours.
One of Kellie’s goals was to build Ontario as a gymnastics powerhouse in Canada. Kellie was genuinely interested in building the self-esteem and leadership qualities of Ontario’s athletes, coaches, judges, and administrators. Gymnastics Ontario, Burlington, Ottawa, and Kitchener-Waterloo Gym Clubs became the springboard for her vision, and she created programs and avenues to do just that. Kellie had the innate ability to recognize traits in people that others may have passed over. She would create an energized and supportive environment for you to enhance and utilize those skills in order for you to give back to our sport. By building on our strengths, and sharing her ideas within her organization, between clubs, cities, or other provinces, she was continually building, setting examples and leading the gymnastics community. Kellie was an advocate for fair play, equality, and equity between all disciplines. That tireless effort will never be replicated.
But perhaps the biggest and most successful role Kellie had was that of a treasured sister to Jodie and a much- loved Aunt to Aaron. Her older sister Jodie had been given up for adoption and eight years ago through birth records she found Kellie. They shared an incredible close bond and relationship, and Kellie became Aaron’s “person”. I know she filled their lives with her warm heartedness, sense of humor, laughter, generosity, thoughtfulness, positive outlook, and zest for life. I know how much she loved her family.
Kellie was a warrior these past three and half years. She was brave in the face of her health challenges and fought with all that she had. We have lost an incredibly gifted person who had a heart of gold and who wanted to share her passion and love for gymnastics. sport, and the people in her life.
You did it Kell…, you made a difference in this world. You will be remembered by everyone that came in contact with you.
On behalf of all those who contributed to this tribute, we will miss you, our friend!