SUN COUNTRY Department Leaders

Get to know us and learn more about our Department Leaders!

Linda Bennett

Sun Country Sports Owner

More About Linda

• 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 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.”

PHIL Bennett

Sun Country Sports Owner

More About Phil

• 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.



More About Jodi

• 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. Since then, she has been involved in many managerial aspects of the business including: bookkeeping, Gym Bus, birthday parties, and Day Camp. She graduated with honors from the University of Florida in 1999 with degrees in marketing and economics. Upon graduation Jodi decided to refresh the marketing/branding of the business and decided to work full time as the first marketing director of the company. While originally this was intended to be a stepping stone for a corporate marketing career Jodi is now co-owner with her parents and the rest is history!

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.




More About Judy

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

Judy 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.



More About Brent

• Hometown: Bradenton, Florida
• With Sun Country since 2021

I have been in retail management and customer service for 20+ years. I have worked with student athletes at all levels from elementary school to college in baseball, soccer, and basketball with a large focus on baseball. I played high school and college baseball for 8 years and graduated from the University of West Florida with a bachelors degree in physical education. I love all sports and working with kids and seeing them achieve their goals. I love the outdoors and go camping and fishing when ever possible. I played in the Junior College World Series and won a world series title with IMG sports in Bradenton during the summer of my sophomore year in college.



More About Michelle

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

Michelle started at Sun Country as an After-School 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 and Special Guest Organizer for our After-School 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 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.



More About Samantha

• Hometown: Ocala, Florida
• With Sun Country since 2021

Sam has her AA in Biology and is currently in school to receive a Bachelors in Food and Nutrition Entrepreneurship at ASU online. She also studied at UF for 3 years towards a degree in applied physiology and kinesiology. She was a competitive gymnast for her entire life at Balcony Gymnastics in Ocala. Sam is now on an adult competitive cheer team for fun and to keep up her athleticism. She has been coaching competitive gymnastics since 2015 and has coached levels 1-9. Additionally she has also coached an adaptive program for children with special needs and helped start the Special Olympics Gymnastics program in Gainesville. In her spare time, Sam loves to play the piano and ukulele, riding horses, long boarding on going on theme park adventures with friends!



More About Angela

• Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
• With Sun Country since 2022

I was born and raised in Gainesville. I am married to my husband Paul, and have two children. I went to Florida State University, so I am a mix Seminole and Gator fan! I have 15 years of management experience leading teams to delivering a positive customer experience. I love working with people and hope to make a positive impact on those whom I interact with. My hobbies include anything that involves spending time with my family. We love Disney, the beach and riding bike.


After-School Department Leader
Camp Sunny Department Leader

More About Allen

• Hometown: Boston, Massachusetts
• With Sun Country 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.



More About Markus

• Hometown: Zachary, Louisiana
• With Sun Country since 2018

Markus is a Chief in the United States Navy Reserve. He is our facilities Department leaders, a bus driver, a lifeguard and a certified pool operator (CPO). He enjoys spending time with his family, boating, canoeing and fishing. His goal is to help Sun Country continue to be the best in Gainesville.



More About Mikey

• Hometown: Gainesville Florida
• With Sun Country 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.

Krystal Rose


More About Krystal

• Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
• With Sun Country since 2023

I grew up going to Sun Country and started working at Sun Country when I was a senior in high school in 2006 and then left in 2015. I stayed in the childcare field where I got my CDA (Child Development Associate) and my Director’s credential. My hobbies are gardening and making things with my Cricut. I have two little girls, ages 10 and 4, who have been coming to Sun Country for most of their lives.

Esteban Sosa-Pesantes

After-School Department Leader

More About Esteban



More About Jose

• Hometown: Puerto Rico
• With Sun Country since 2022

I have been involved in Gymnastics for the past 34 years. From athlete, recreational coach, team assistant coach, team head coach, junior national team head coach, national team assistant coach, and Gym Manager. I am an International Gymnastics Federation certified Coaching Expert and International Brevet Judge. I enjoy and find that the core value of every sport and the learning process that brings to every single kid. I basically live by 2 main quotes. “A friendly smile is the cure for all the bad situations in life” and “Impossible is just an opinion”.



More About Claire

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

Claire graduated from University of Florida with a Bachelors Degree in Recreation, Parks and 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!



More About Greg

• Hometown: Bradenton, Florida
• With Sun Country 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 and brings his EMT knowledge to our team.



More About Ethan