The lives of Robin Straus of Deerfield and of Lake Forest have been intensely intertwined for more than 30 years.
In that time the two coaches and teachers have touched the lives of numerous young people in both communities.
Straus grew up in Highland Park and lived her adult life in Deerfield. She's been at since 1979, coaching gymnastics and teaching physical education. She retired as a teacher in June but continues to coach.
After growing up on Long Island in her early years, Myers moved with her family to Northbrook in high school. She settled in Lake Forest after college where she taught for a semester in 1979 before taking a job as a gym teacher and gymnastics coach at.
“We have been inseparable,” Straus said. “It’s always been Carol and Robin and Robin and Carol,” Straus said. “Our (teams’) schedules are very similar and we’re always together.”
They have shared a success as teachers and coaches that has left its mark on more than a generation of Scouts and Warriors.
“She is very special in the way she gives to you,” current Lake Forest gymnastics captain said. “She’ll come in early and she’ll stay late to help you. She’s always ready to help you accomplish your goals.”
Carlson Is a Second Generation Gymnast for Straus
Carlson, who finished second in floor exercise at last year’s State Meet, is the second generation of gymnasts in her family to compete for Straus. Her mother, , did the same when she was state champion in the uneven parallel bars in 1985.
“I knew it would be a wonderful experience for her,” Julie Carlson said of entrusting her daughter’s interscholastic athletic career to Straus. “Robin (Straus) is always concerned about the welfare of the girls and their safety.”
For Julie Carlson, who stayed in touch with Straus over the years, there are ties to Myers as well. When she was in high school, one her physical education teachers was Tom Myers, Carol’s husband, who was the long-time football, basketball and baseball coach for the Scouts.
The Myers met at Lake Forest High School before Carol Myers took the job at Deerfield. Both the Straus and Myers families are close as well.
One of the Myers’ children was a student in a Straus gym class though Myers did not teach the Straus boys when they were at Deerfield High School.
Former Deerfield High School gymnast Renata Grzeskowiak, who was part of the Warriors 1982 second place state finishers team, not only stayed close to Myers over the years but the Deerfield mentor continues to be an influence.
“She’s kept in touch all these years,” Grzeskowiak said of the only high school teacher she continues to communicate with. “She’s encouraged me to coach and she is trying to persuade me to be a judge.”
Grzeskowiak has worked at the national level with Olympic gymnasts and coaches at Lycee de Chicago High School in the city in addition to her full time job in the business world.
Myers, Straus Join Hall of Fame Together
Straus and Myers have shared more than a passion for teaching gymnastics and coaching. They were inducted into the Illinois High School Gymnastics Hall of Fame together in 2010. In 1988 their athletes shared the all around state championship.
That was the year Deerfield’s Laurie Gold and Scout Gail Hamilton were two of Illinois’s top gymnasts. They had competed against each other all year and both sought the all-around championship at the State Meet.
After the first two events, the competition was close. Myers and Straus were discussing it over lunch while the athletes visited as well.
“We were sitting at lunch between sessions and I was saying ‘Gail will win’ and Robin (Straus) was saying ‘Laurie will win,’” Myers said.
“When it was over they both won,” Myers added about a sport where athletes’ scores can be separated by hundredths of a point.
Grzeskowiak was part of the Warrior team that year. She remembers the friendly yet strong competition fostered between the athletes by Straus and Myers.
“Both Laurie and Gail were strong competitors,” Grzeskowiak said. “They picked each other up. They were friendly but competitive.”