For every person to feel better about themselves when they walk out of our doors than they do when they walk in.
We strive to be the first choice in the area for active children, families and adults.
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 35 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.”
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.
Jodi is also involved in many civic and volunteer organizations: the Gainesville, Newberry, and Jonesville Chambers of Commerce; She served on the board of Alachua County Emerging Leaders for 5 years (where she chaired the Champions for Charity Kickball tournament 3 years in a row); Leadership Gainesville class of 35; and March of Dimes-North Central Florida Board Member. She is also the co-founder of 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 and are currently on the boys competitive gymnastics team. In her free time she enjoys swimming, biking and running with her husband.
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.
Michelle has been married for over 20 years, has 3 children and one granddaughter.
Michelle has also been a Girl Scout Leader for over 15 years. She 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.
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.
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.
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 40+ years, they have 2 sons and 4 grandchildren. Her kids and grandkids are the joy of her life!
Claire loves all animals, organizing anything and everything, traveling to old and new places and spending time in the sun!
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 and brings his EMT knowledge to our team.