Newt Loken, who passed away last summer, was known as a champion gymnast in the early 1940s and the decorated head coach of Michigan gymnastics for 36 seasons between 1948 and 1983. During that period, his achievements also included coaching some of the best trampolinists in the world, such as George Huntzicher, who placed second in the 1970 World Trampoline Championships in Switzerland.
Mr. Loken and my father, Jeff Hennessy, were great friends. We drove up the Mississippi River from south Louisiana all the way to Michigan to visit the Loken’s for our summer vacations, listening to 8-tracks all the way. Watching the two Juniors, Jeff and Newtie, who were about 13-14 years-old, flipping off the swings of a swing-set in a nearby park was the highlight for me.
His memoir, Newt: The Father of Michigan Men’s Gymnastics is available now through the Huron River Press.