We value our family-oriented environment at Sokol United and want everyone to feel welcomed the moment you walk in the gym. Please take the time to get to know our coaches a little better below!
One of the many dedicated assistant coaches at Sokol United, coach Audrey has been a Sokol member since the age of 3! She is 2nd Vice President at Northern Trust Company and works in the Investment Outsourcing Operations, Foreign Exchange department when she is not in the gym at Sokol. She has been married to my husband Vince (MC and music man at our exhibitions) for 43 years. They even had their wedding reception in the former Sokol Stickney hall! She has participated in many Sokol slets in many cities in the US and Toronto. In 1972, she went to the Sokol slets in Vienna and Prague to compete in volleyball and also perform calisthenics. She currently holds the positions of Membership Director and Financial Secretary and have done so for over 20 years.
Known as “Coach Kim” to all Sokols, Kim was the Physical Director of Sokol United for over 20 years. She is now the Central District Women’s Director for American Sokol National. She has coached many levels of gymnastics ranging from preschool to advanced over the past 30 years. She has attended many USAG/IPDGC coaching conferences, trainings and clinics –all contributing to her success as a coach. She holds USAG safety certifications and has attended many Sokol coaching developmental conferences. Kim believes in “progressive training” and takes a strong approach in implementing this in the gym. She helps host a gymnastics meet for IPDGC every year at Sokol United. Kim performed calithentics in Prague at the Sokol slet in the summer of 2018 and is looking forward to competing “all around” in gymnastics at the Sokol slet in Buffalo, NY in 2019. She is the “glue” that holds our gym together and also a popular mixologist/bartender at Tuscany Restaurant in Chicago.
Shannon’s love of Sokol and gymnastics began when she was 3 years old, when her parents enrolled her in tot’s class at Sokol (Stickney). Since then, she has participated in numerous Central District gymnastics competitions, camps, dances, and slets. Her favorite event to compete in was floor exercise, especially when she got to high school and was allowed to choreograph her own routines! Now, as an adult, Shannon works in Human Resources during the day, but still loves coming to Sokol in the evenings to coach classes. In addition to coaching, she is the Co-Physical Director of Sokol United’s program and the National Co-Youth Director for American Sokol. Shannon maintains a USA Gymnastics Professional Membership and their Safety and Risk Management certification. She is First Aid and CPR certified.
Rich Vachata, Jr.
Better known as coach “Richie”, Coach Rich has been a Sokol “original” since birth. Following in the footsteps of his parents, Rich and Marie, he attended Sokol classes as a child, grew to running the gym programs, eventually enrolled his own daughters –Paige, Taylor, and Hailey, and now his grandkids. He has held virtually every position at Sokol United, but is most notably the current President of the unit. Coach Rich helped us solidify our new location at St. Hugh’s when we were forced to move out of our gym in Stickney and is known for his “can-do” attitude. He steps into the gym often to help us move equipment and continue the growth of our boy’s program. He is also the head cook during our pancake breakfast fundraiser. If he is not in the gym, you can find him working on his 1940 Ford hot rod or throwing some epic outdoor parties with his awesome wife, Andrea.
Doris single-handedly runs our women’s program and she has dedicated herself to that position for many years. She loves staying connected to her Czech heritage through Sokol as well as the camaraderie and life-long friendships that are made. Doris always has a positive attitude and is dedicated to physical fitness for all ages! She is known for choreographing fun and dynamic special number routines for both the women and juniors (and even the men sometimes!) and hopes to interest new recruits with her exciting special number routines. Although she does not live close to the gym, she is dedicated to our unit and building our workout program —so we appreciate her more than she knows!. She also holds fitness classes for parents during class times. If anyone is interested in getting off those bleachers, Doris will get you moving!
Payton is Coach Kim’s youngest daughter and also one of our younger members of the coaching staff at 18 years of age and is a recent grad of St. Joseph High School in Westchester. Payton is currently beginning the next phase of her education studying psychology at Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois. Payton has been active in Sokol and classes since she could walk. All of the older coaches have funny memories of Payton in Sokol’s Tots classes. She was always the sassiest and most outgoing of the group and has developed into an even bolder and sociable coach. Before becoming a full-time coach, Payton had been an assistant coach and has a tight bond with a lot of the Sokol United gymnasts, attending IPDGC spotting and progression clinics along the way. In addition to coaching gymnastics, Payton has performed in many calisthenics and special numbers, most recently performing in the American Sokol Special number and the Zenobrani Calisthenics in Prague Czech Republic. Payton is the current administrator of the Sokol United Instagram account. She has authored special numbers and gymnastics routines and an ALL sokol special number. If Payton is not at Sokol, you can find her making amazingly ‘blingy’ cups for her small business or loving on her labradoodle.
Jordan Karovic (currently on break)
Jordan is a graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville where she studied Social Work and Psychology. Currently working on her Masters degree in Social Work. Jordan is the Educational Director of Sokol United, she is currently working on obtaining scholarships for gymnasts who are interested in attending Sokol amps and clinics. She has been a member of Sokol since 1999 and started coaching at Sokol in the 6th grade. Her mom, coach Kim Elliott, had Jordan and her sister Payton involved with Sokol and close to their Czech roots since birth. In her youth, Jordan was a Sokol class regular, attended Sokol camp, and was the President of the Sokol Stickney Junior Board for many years—helping to organize spaghetti dinners, exhibitions, pancake breakfasts and more. She more recently was one of 23 members representing Sokol United in the 2018 Slet held in Prague, Czech Republic. She assisted in the move of our Sokol unit to St. Hugh’s in Lyons and has authored many special numbers and gymnastics routines. In recent years as a coach, Jordan has attended many gymnastics skills clinics and coaching clinics to perfect her coaching skills. Jordan is the head volleyball coach for Sokol United and was the volleyball captain at her high school. Jordan is a graduate of Lewis University where she was nominated and chosen as a member of the Phi Alpha Honor Society, a program that only accepts the top 10% of social work students, and currently works in the social work field in Chicago.
Jenna Vondrasek (currently on break)
Jenna has been a member of Sokol since she was born 26 years ago. Both Jenna and her sister Maria grew up very connected to the Sokol community, as their mother, Jean Hruby, worked in the national office and eventually became the President of American Sokol. Though gymnastics has never been Jenna’s best Sokol “skill”, she loves calisthenics, special number, volleyball competitions, and being a coach/volunteer at pancake breakfasts, picnics, and fundraisers alike. She played competitive volleyball through her youth and intramural volleyball at the University of San Diego. Jenna currently works for Conagra Brands in the city of Chicago. Jenna most recently rode her bike to the American Sokol slet in Cedar Rapids with the Ride2Camp crew in 2017 and attended the 2018 Slet in Prague, Czech Republic. In her free time, Jenna is busy training for marathons and hanging out with her dog Tessa in Chicago.
Maria Vondrasek (currently on break)
Maria was a multi-level competitive gymnast growing up in Sokol and also doubled as a marching star. Her favorite gymnastics event was the floor, as she was always working on improving her skillset. As a natural transition, Maria became involved with competitive cheerleading and hip-hop dancing to work on her gymnastics skills in the off-season. She cheered with Cheer Illinois Athletics out of Bensenville, Il. In her youth, Maria was also a teacher for the Tots class at Sokol Stickney and attended many national Sokol camps. Maria also Czech dances with MCS and was a Czech debutante. Maria currently works for Whitney Architects in Oak Brook designing commercial spaces. Maria most recently competed with the Sokol United women’s tag team in the gymnastics competition at the Sokol slet in Cedar Rapids (1st place!) and attended the 2018 Slet in Prauge, Czech Republic. Maria co-authors special number dances with her sister Jenna.
Amanda Koc (currently on break)
Amanda has been a member of Sokol (Stickney) United since childhood and has been coaching alongside Kim and Shannon for countless years. She is mom to Jonathan, Abby, Victoria, Isabella, and Adeline. She is our most laidback coach and specializes in making sure newer gymnasts feel comfortable in the gym. She rode her bike with coach Jenna to the American Sokol Slet in Cedar Rapids during the summer of 2017 to raise money for Sokol. Amanda was one of the dedicated coaches to continue classes during the summer session to keep gymnasts in the gym. When she is not in the gym, she can be found taking her kids to different sports/after school activities or hanging out with her man, Bernie!
Taylor Larson (currently on break)
Taylor has been a member of Sokol since birth as her father (Rich) and grandfather (Rich Sr.) have historically kept Sokol United running behind the scenes. Taylor was a competitive gymnast growing up for Hinsdale South High School and placed many times in Sokol competitions. She is sister to Paige and Hailey, two other Sokol United “originals”, wife to Ben and mom to two adorable cats and kids! Taylor reinvigorated our boys program in 2017 and has been dedicated to making sure the boys have a dedicated “place” in our class programs ever since. We know she is the perfect coach for them because she is tough but also patient with our rambunctious boy gymnasts. When Taylor is not in the gym she is working crazy hours as a registered nurse at LaGrange Hospital.