A Lifetime of Trampoline is a brief history of trampoline coach, Jeff T. Hennessy, who currently resides in Broussard, Louisiana. Also included are eight photo galleries that capture over fifty years of world travel, Hennessy family activities, World Trampoline Champions coached by Hennessy, and fellow trampoline and double mini-tramp athletes from across the USA and around the world.
Autobiography of Jeff T. Hennessy
In the spring of 1948 I entered Northwestern State College in Natchitoches, LA, and because I was a member of the swimming and gymnastics teams I was introduced to the trampoline. At that time, the trampoline was used primarily as a way to improve our springboard diving and gymnastics skills. Springboard diving was the main focus of my interest in sports at that time.
During my college days at Northwestern I was extremely fortunate to meet two key people who would have an enormous influence on my future interest in trampoline – George Nissen, the inventor of the modern trampoline, and Ted Blake, from Great Britain, who was a member of the fledgling Nissen Corporation.
These two innovators inspired me to envision a role for myself in the potential of trampoline to eventually become an organized competitive sport with an international audience.
During the years 1965 through 1982 the men and women athletes that I coached were awarded a total of 26 World Championship medals in trampoline and double mini-tramp competitions all over the globe. The National and Regional titles and medals won by these world champions and their teammates during those seventeen years are far too numerous for me to venture a specific count.
Upon completion of a Bachelor of Science degree in Education at Northwestern I was employed by the Ouachita Parish School system in Monroe, LA where I worked as a math and social studies teacher, and football and track coach.
In 1957 I returned to Northwestern as a graduate assistant. And upon completion of my MS degree in Education in 1958 I was employed as an instructor of Physical Education at Northwestern and coached NSC’s swimming, diving, and gymnastics teams until 1959.
In 1959 I moved to Lafayette, LA with my wife, Ruth, and our two children – Jeff, Jr. and Leigh (with baby Kay soon on the way). In Lafayette I taught Physical Education at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now Univ. of LA at Lafayette), plus I was the director of USL’s gymnastics and trampoline programs.
In 1964 I decided to focus my efforts full-time on the sport of trampoline – after working hours.
The University of Southwestern was my trampoline home base from 1964 to 1986 when I retired as an associate professor. I am proud to say that during this period of time there were more trampoline and double mini-tramp world and national champions produced in our little gym in Lafayette, LA than in any other place in the USA.
It was an unequivocal pleasure to work with all of the young people from across the country who took part in our trampoline program in Lafayette. I had the pleasure of observing them develop into world-class athletes and to see them represent themselves as good will ambassadors of the United States while participating in World Championship competitions overseas. I am eternally grateful to all of them for their unique talent and their hard work. What a wonderful time we had!