Nittany Gymnastics Academy, a staple of the Centre County community for 30 years, has permanently closed.
Owner Jeannette Rizzuto said the building at 2300 Commercial Boulevard in College Township has been sold and the gymnastics and office equipment are being liquidated.
A gathering at the gym will be held from 4-6 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 11) to say goodbye to the academy and celebrate the life of Rizzuto’s husband, Nittany Gymnastics founder Mike Rizzuto, who made a lasting impact on the lives of thousands of local youth and families before his death in 2018.
‘I never really had closure when he died in 2018,’ Jeannette Rizzuto said. ‘This is sort of a just a little thing for me. I just wanted to have a closure where I could show my appreciation to all the staff and family, to our community for supporting Nittany Gymnastics for 30 years.’
Rizzuto will give away Nittany Gymnastics memorabilia during the event and will accept donations for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, an organization that supported her husband through his battle with cancer. Masks and social distancing are required.
After Mike Rizzuto’s passing in 2018, Jeannette Rizzuto decided to sell the business in 2019. She had a sale agreement in early March, but it fell through after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
At the same time, Nittany Gymnastics closed in mid-March because of the pandemic and never reopened.
Rizzuto said she tried to sell the business as a gymnastics facility, but COVID-19 made that impossible.
‘We know what’s going on with all businesses and particularly service industries,’ she said. ‘No one was interested in buying a gym then, so I ended up going a different direction and sold the building.’
Last year marked Nittany Gymnastics 30th year and Rizzuto hoped to have a big celebration this spring, but again the pandemic nixed those plans
‘My husband had a great business. We had a terrific staff. We had a fabulous clientele,’ she said. ‘Our intention was to have a really big celebration in the spring of 2020. COVID hit so that couldn’t happen. And then all of my employees were laid off and people move on.’
Mike Rizzuto was an athlete and coach, as well as an attorney who briefly practiced environmental law before following his passion to coach gymnastics full time, opening Nittany Gymnastics in 1989.
Jeannette Rizzuto said his lasting legacy in the community has ‘meant the world’ to her, noting that girls who participated in the program for years would make a visit to the gym to say hello to him their first stop when they returned home from college for Christmas break.
‘I met Mike when my daughter was starting in gymnastics and I observed his ability to truly impact not just in the sport of gymnastics but each individual child’s self-confidence and overcoming fears and the ability to believe in themselves that they could overcome whether it just be a small skill or task, but it then evolved over the years,’ she said. ‘There were thousands and thousands of children… He was as much a part of their families as he was ours.
‘This whole community, everywhere I go people say ‘I remember Nittany.’ Everybody knows somebody who’s been a part of Nittany. It just warms my heart that I’m finally having the ability to show all of this. It warms my heart and soul to have had him in my life for as long as I did and then for him to have been in everyone else’s life for as long as he was.’
Anyone who is unable to attend Wednesday’s gathering but would like to reach out to Rizzuto can contact her at [email protected].
She hopes to have a bigger celebration in the future.
‘Down the road maybe I’ll do a bigger celebration, because it really should be celebrated,’ she said. ‘This is just a little honoring of him.’