Rhythmic Gymnastics in Canada simply would not be if it weren’t for the efforts of Evelyn Koop, known as the “godmother” of the sport in Canada and recognized as the one who brought the sport to North America.
Ms. Koop arrived in Canada in 1951 and obtained a Canadian dance and Arts degree. She became a member of the Estonia Sports Club, Kalev, first as a gymnast, then as a coach. Out of this club, she organized the Kalev Estienne Rhythmic Gymnastics Club.
Evelyn has taught Physical Education courses in Rhythmic Gymnastics, then called “modern gymnastics” at the Universities of Toronto, McMaster and McGill. She authored the books “Basic Rhythmics” and “Judging”, developed technical manuals, By-laws and Constitutions for Rhythmic Gymnastics in the early years. Ms. Koop has trained nearly 1,000 teachers and instructors and created awareness of the sport through endless touring with her gymnasts throughout Canada and the United States.
In 1968, Ms. Koop, along with a few others, formed the Modern Gymnastics Federation (MGF) and later the Canadian Rhythmic Sportive Gymnastics Federation. Evelyn was the President of both federations remaining in that position until 1978 after which she was Executive Director.
In 1978 she created the Pan-Pacific Championships, which later became the Four Continents Championships. These championships were created to give Canadians the opportunity to experience international competitions.
For the same reason, in 1991 Ms. Koop began “The World’s Best” international invitational competition which the Canadian Gymnastics Federation named “Koop Cup” in honour of Evelyn Koop.
Ms. Koop was a choreographer for the opening ceremonies of the 1976 Olympic Games and by demonstrating rhythmic gymnastics, opened the door for it becoming an Olympic sport.
Evelyn Koop has recruited several world-renowned coaches and judges which have helped in the development of RG in Ontario and Canada. Tamara Bompa from Romania, Lilian Dimitrova Petkov from Bulgaria and Svetlana Joukova to name a few.
In 2010, it was the Kalev Junior Group that represented the America’s at the Youth Olympic Games and captured the Bronze Medal. Group became part of the Olympic Games in 1996. The Group from Kalev made history qualifying Canada to their first Olympic Games in London 2012.
At this 2016 Koop Cup, Evelyn Koop, President and Program Director of Kalev Estienne celebrated their 65th Anniversary promoting Rhythmic Gymnastics in Ontario and Canada.
Kalev Estienne continues to host Provincial, National and International events. In 2017 alone, Kalev, under the management of Evelyn Koop, hosted Slonny Cup an International Invitational, Elite Canada and Koop Cup FIG International.
Evelyn Koop’s story is richly accented with experience that originate in Sweden and span across the world. She has always been passionate about growing the sport so that all Ontarians can participate and learn about the beautiful sport of Rhythmic Gymnastics.