Department Leaders

We love our Sun Country Department Leaders! This team of motivated individuals help to lead our staff daily as we stress our Sun Country mission, vision and core values. Feel free to reach out them individually if you have a specific question about one of their departments.



• Hometown: Miami, Florida
• With Sun Country since Day One (1987)

Linda was raised in Miami and moved to Gainesville with her husband to go to UF in the summer of 1971. They both loved the area and knew they would eventually return.

Linda and Phil Bennett moved their family back to Gainesville in the summer of 1986. It was then that Phil urged Linda to open a gym and offer something new to the area. With a degree in Early Childhood Education and 6 years of teaching pre-school and pre-school gymnastics experience, Linda took on the challenge.

With her family’s help, she opened Sun Country Sports in 1987. Linda has remained active and involved in running every aspect of the business while also being involved in community leadership. She was a member of the Leadership Gainesville Class of 36 and is currently a member of the Leadership Gainesville Alumni Association. She has mentored thousands of staff, business owners, and children in the 30 years that Sun Country has been opened. Her dedication to building healthy, strong babies has been unwavering; together with her staff and family, she has led Sun Country’s effort to raise over one hundred thousand dollars for the March of Dimes over the years.

Linda’s mission – and that of Sun Country’s – “is for every person to feel better about themselves when they walk out of our doors than they did when they walked in.”



• Hometown: Miami, Florida
• With Sun Country since Day One (1987)

Phil attended the University of Florida, receiving a B.S. degree in chemistry. He continued his education at Purdue University to receive a Ph.D in chemistry. Phil moved his family to Gainesville in 1986 when he got a job developing advanced batteries for General Electric (GE) and later Energizer. While working for Energizer, Phil often appeared as the Energizer Bunny during various community fundraisers.

In 1987 Phil challenged Linda, his wife, to open a gymnastics school. Phil continued to work as an industrial research and development chemist during the day but helped-out in the evenings and weekends while Linda and their children built Sun Country. When Energizer closed their Gainesville operation, Phil became an assistant chemistry professor at Santa Fe College.

Although not actively involved in the day-to-day operation of Sun Country, Phil is currently involved in negotiating major equipment purchases and strategic and financial planning for Sun Country. In addition, he oversees the operation of Sun Country’s facilities, serving as its building engineer and enjoys playing practical jokes on staff and family. He is an alumnus of Leadership Gainesville, active in the Florida Education Foundation, serves as a student mentor, and judges local, regional, and Florida state science/engineering fairs. He remains active in advanced rechargeable battery R&D by consulting for several start-up advanced battery companies and delivers lectures on rechargeable batteries domestically and internationally.


Director of Operations (West)

• Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
• With Sun Country since Day One (1987)

Jodi started competing in gymnastics when she was six years old. At 14, she began coaching at Sun Country and that same year started competitive cheerleading. Jodi also danced for 4 years while in high school and college. She graduated with honors from UF in 1999 with degrees in marketing and economics. Since then, she has been involved in many managerial aspects of the business: bookkeeping, Gym Bus, birthday parties, and Day Camp. Currently she manages operations at Sun Country West and leads the company’s marketing department.

Jodi is also involved in many civic and volunteer organizations: the Gainesville, Newberry, and Jonesville Chambers of Commerce; 5 year board member of Alachua County Emerging Leaders (where she chaired the Champions for Charity Kickball tournament); Leadership Gainesville class of 35; and March of Dimes-North Central Florida Board Member. She also helped start G3, Gainesville’s first public triathlon club. In 2011, Home Magazine named her one of Gainesville’s “40 under 40.”

Jodi has 2 young boys who both love coming to Sun Country. In her free time she enjoys swimming, biking and running with her husband.


Team Leader
Dance Department Leader

• Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2007

Judy Benton currently serves as the Director of DANCE Sun Country, as well as the Artistic Director of the affiliated non-profit performing company, Sun Country Dance Theatre, which she founded in August 2008.

Ms. Benton’s vast experience as a dance instructor, choreographer, dance studio manager, arts administrator and Artistic Director spans over 40 years. She has studied in New York at the American Ballet Theatre school, Joffrey Ballet School, and Luigi’s Jazz Center, as well as attending countless workshops, dance intensives, and master classes with many greats of the dance world.

While her husband served in the Air Force, she was Director for the Youth Center Dance Program at Blytheville Air Force Base, Arkansas, dance instructor at Mississippi County Community College, and taught at numerous private studios in Arkansas and Panama City, Florida. She has taught community education dance classes at Santa Fe College, has choreographed for the Dance Theatre of Santa Fe, and been a guest teacher for the Florida Dance Association’s Florida Dance Festival on Tour, and for Floridance at the University of Florida.

Ms. Benton’s students continue to receive scholarships to study at some of our nation’s most prestigious dance programs and intensives, including American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet School, Orlando Ballet, Central Florida Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Next Generation Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Alvin Ailey. Many of Ms. Benton’s former students have gone on to successful careers in the dance world, including professional dancers, teachers, choreographers, Broadway stage managers, stage directors, professional lighting designers, dance journalists, and arts administrators.

Ms. Benton is passionate about continuing to share her love and knowledge of dance with future generations of dancers and the youth of our community.


Office Department Leader

• Hometown: Perry, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2021

I’m originally from Perry, Florida and I am a United States Air Force Veteran and Gator Alum (Go Gators!). I have a degree in Sports Management and learned my skills through my combined time working as an x-ray tech in the USAF and at Shands, and with the division of RecSports at the University of Florida.


Camp / Afterschool Director

• Hometown: Richmond, Virginia
• With Sun Country Sports since 2018

Erin joins us with years of experience as a Childcare Director with the YMCA in both after school and summer camp. She is so excited to be a part of the Sun Country family!

Erin is the mom of three amazing kiddos. She loves spending time with them and her husband of nearly 16 years! Erin also loves taking pictures and working with stained glass when time allows.


Sunny’s Preschool Department Leader

• Hometown: Alachua, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2021

Lots of experience with children through many years of coaching gymnastics and teaching preschool.
Previously worked at Sun Country as a gymnastics team coach, tumbling team coach, Stay and Play instructor and bookkeeper.



• Hometown: Lafayette
• With Sun Country Sports since 2019

Tessa comes to us with an undergraduate degree in Family Consumer Sciences with a concentration in Child Life – a field that helps children cope with hospitalization. She has extensive camp, volunteer and professional experiences working with children which has benefited me greatly in working at Sun Country.

When Tessa isn’t working, she enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking, and sitting down with a good book.


Tramp & Tumble Department Leader

• Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland
• With Sun Country Sports since 2019

Gretchen was a Level 8 USAG Gymnast and was a Trampoline + Tumbling National competitor in 1999. She has been coaching since 1995 at Hills Gymnastics – Levels: Pre-eam – Level 8 and was the Class Program Director and the Developmental Head Coach.

She enjoys volunteering at animal sanctuaries with her family. They love to explore all the nature preserves , zoos and sanctuaries every where they go! They also do craft shows as a family!


Groups Department Leader
Bookkeeping and Retail Department Leader
Apprentice Coordinator

• Hometown: Tampa, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2004

Michelle started at Sun Country as an afterschool counselor and bus driver. She became the office manager for the Millhopper location in 2005 and the following year became the bookkeeper at the West location. She is also a field trip & special guest organizer for our Afterschool and Camp programs, and she directs the Apprentice programs for both.

Michelle has been married for over 20 years, has 3 children and one granddaughter.

Michelle has been a Girl Scout Leader for over 15 years. She also volunteers as a Girl Scout Leader trainer in the Gainesville area. She loves helping the community and watching youth become great leaders. She also loves camping, scrapbooking, reading and making crafts.


Human Resources Department Leader
Meet Director
Associate Director

• Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2010

Mikey worked in residential camp administration from 2002-2010, and has experience facilitating a range of instructional activities from horseback riding and over-night camping expeditions to sailing and rock climbing. He was Camp Sunny director from 2011-2015, and has worked in a number of Sun Country departments over the years.

He has attended three American Camp Association National Conferences, holds American Red Cross certifications in Lifeguarding, Professional CPR and First Aid, and is a USAG certified Meet Director.

Mikey enjoys anything in the outdoors including: riding, fishing, camping, and watersports. He also plays djembe and has performed with the University of Florida African Dance ensemble, Agbedidi.


Ninja Zone Department Leader

• Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
• With Sun Country Sports since 2021

Allen is from Boston, where he worked with the New England Patriots, New England Revolution and Harvard University in a variety of rolls. He has two Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and was able to travel with the Revolution to a championship game. In his spare time he likes to be outside with his daughter playing all kinds of games, sitting in the sandbox or playing sports video games Allen hopes to excel the Ninja program even further than it is now and help it grow. With a Bachelor’s of Science in Recreation and Tourism Management with a concentration in Sports Management and a minor in Business under his belt there is no doubt he is ready to train like a ninja!

Allen is also an avid CrossFitter, enjoys CentrFit workouts (Chris Hemingsworth’s company) and workouts that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson have leaked out. He did the CrossFit Open once in 2019.


Preschool Gymnastics Department Leader

• Hometown: Miami, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 1989

Debe came to Gainesville to go to school in 1976 and never left. She started teaching gymnastic in 1979 and went to Brown’s Gymnastics in January 1982, which was then bought by Sun Country in 1989. She had planned on being either a Kindergarten or Elementary P.E. teacher but realized that what she was doing was the best of both worlds, and she is still teaching and loving preschool gymnastics 35 years later.

Debe is also an Aerobics and Fitness Association of America (AFAA) certified Group Fitness Instructor who loves working out herself. She enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and just being at home on their five acres in the country.

Debe has been married for over 35 years, they have 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. Her kids and grandkids are the joy of her life!


Payroll Department Leader
Associate Director

• Hometown: Jacksonville, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2010

Claire graduated from UF with a Bachelors degree in Recreation, Parks & Tourism. She was previously an intern for the Youth Development Division at the March of Dimes and continues to volunteer and fundraise for Sun Country’s March of Dimes’ Team. Claire represented Sun Country as a member of the Leadership Gainesville Class of 39 (Go Green!).

Claire loves all animals, organizing anything and everything, traveling to old and new places and spending time in the sun!


Rock Wall Department Leader

• Hometown: Keystone Heights, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2021

Janelle loves working and playing in the outdoors. She graduated from Appalachian State University with a B.S. in Recreation and Parks Management. She has worked in a variety of recreational settings with people of all ages including Blacksburg, Virginia at Crimper’s Climbing gym as their Program Director. Working there she enjoyed giving private instruction, coaching the youth climbing team, and working special events. In her spare time, JanelleI enjoy mountain biking, hiking with my family, yoga, and coaching her kiddos soccer team.


Boys USAG Team Department Leader
Rainbow Gymnastics Coach
Team Leader

• Hometown: Bradenton, Florida
• With Sun Country Sports since 2013

Greg was a collegiate gymnast at Temple University majoring in elementary education. He worked for Sun Country after college and returned to our team in 2013 after coaching in other locations around the state of Florida.

Greg serves as the USAG Florida Men’s State Chairman and Men’s Region 8 Elite Coordinator. He is a nationally rated judge and a member of the state and regional Elite Coaching Staff.

Greg also worked as a firefighter for four years and brings his EMT knowledge to our team.

Our Mission Statement

For every person to feel better about themselves when they walk out of our doors than they do when they walk in.

Our Vision

We strive to be the first choice in the area for active children, families and adults.

Our Core Values

  • Safety: We provide for the safety of our customers and ourselves
  • Caring: We care for our customers and coworkers like family
  • Sports: We promote sports, fitness and healthy lifestyles
  • Community: We have fun and spread Sunny’s warmth around the community

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