Dan Witenstein was inducted into the Arizona Gymnastics Hall of Fame at the USA Gymnastics State Awards Banquet this week at the Grayhawk Golf Club in Scottsdale. Witenstein is the co-owner and team director of Arizona Sunrays, a popular local gymnastics school.
Originally from Maryland, Witenstein was a collegiate gymnast who competed for Arizona State University for three years and eventually became assistant coach for the ASU women’s team between 1980 and 1985. During his time at ASU, the women’s gymnastics team placed among the top six in the nation every year, including a second-place national finish in 1983.
In 1990, Witenstein and his wife, Julie, opened their own gymnastics school. The couple bought Sunland Gymnastics & Dance in Phoenix and changed the name to Arizona Sunrays. Today, there are two Arizona Sunrays locations — one in Northeast Phoenix and the other in Arcadia — with more than 2,000 students enrolled.
When accepting his award on June 8, Witenstein said: “Most of all, thank you to all the kids I have been privileged to coach. They have given me some of the most amazing moments… Seeing the American flag raised after winning gold medals, winning the Junior Olympic National Championships, hitting all together as a team… amazing comebacks… or in the gym when a gymnast learns something new and overcomes obstacles… Those are the feelings that keep you going and that’s why we keep at it. I know that I am fortunate to work hard at something I love and make a positive impact on people. The time that we spend with our athletes is an amazing period of growth for them, and I’m grateful to be at least a small part of that growth.” JN