Vale, Shirley Tilley
1932 – 2017
Rhythmic Gymnastics community of South Australia mourns the loss of
Shirley Tilley. Shirley was instrumental in the development of Rhythmic
Gymnastics (RG) in South Australia by assisting the then, South
Australian Gymnastics Association (SAGA) but also Gymnastics Australia
(GA) in the introduction of RG into the country during 1977. Shirley
Tilley was invited to attend the inaugural Rhythmic Gymnastics coaching
course, run by the Otto’s (of Acromat)’ as they then knew it was the
type of sport the calisthenic community would excel in and be able to
assist develop into the future.
or Mrs. Tilley as she was known to her gymnasts started both Kara Kara
Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (with Helen Broad) in 1977 and then a few years
later, Mitcham Rhythmic Gymnastics Club (with daughter Deb); both clubs
are still in operation today. Shirley was a knowledgeable and driven
coach and judge who supported gymnasts to reach their personal
potential. This included providing boarding for international coaches in
the early years and supporting gymnasts such as SA Olympian Linda
Douglas as she trained towards SASI and AIS selection.
Tilley was also the main leotard supplier for Gymnastics South
Australia (GSA) and many gymnasts who competed in the 80s and 90s wore
her leotards at Club and State level. I can personally remember visiting
the Gymnastics, Dance and ‘Cali’ store ‘Deblyn’ to purchase a
new ball and get fitted for leotards, as well as attending private
lessons with my sisters in the backyard of her Netherby home. Mrs.
Tilley was highly respected by her gymnasts and as a gymnast under her
coaching you certainly followed instructions when she gave them to you.
You knew that you were lucky to be training with her and that technique
and skills were taught with a high base of knowledge from years of
education. She often travelled around the world to seek new
opportunities and gain more ideas for training and routines for her
was a Brevet judge, who judged at Australian Nationals for GSA from
1979 to the late 90s, when she stepped into retirement. She was a highly
decorated coach who worked at various clubs and as a SASI coach for a
number of years. Shirley continued to serve as a patron of Mitcham
Rhythmic Gymnastics Club, and attended competitions to support the
community and see the gymnasts develop. Shirley was awarded both Life
Membership with GSA and the Calisthenics Association of SA.
Shirley will be fare-welled by family in a small private ceremony on her 85th
birthday. We send our love and condolences to daughters Lynette and
Debra. Shirley leaves those of us who were lucky to be coached by her
or crossed paths in either a gymnastics or calisthenics capacity with
memories of a strong, knowledgeable woman with wonderful sewing talents.
She was a strong driving force in the development of Rhythmic
Gymnastics in South Australia.
Farewell Mrs. Tilley.
By Kate Johnson and the rhythmic family.