OUR COACHES AND STAFF
Present Head Coach
Pre Team and
In-house Circus Performer
Drama and Presentation
Photos by Natasha Titanoff
Coach Arzu Karaali is the present head coach, the founder and program director of La Luna Rhythmic Gymnastics Academy. With over 20 years' experience in the sport, she was able to establish her own training technique in the Seattle area. Many gymnasts she has trained have become State and Regional Champions and National Qualifiers with most finishing in the top 10 at the Junior Olympics. She has been selected "Coach of the Year and Best Choreographer" numerous times between the years 2005-2017 by the USAG Rhythmic Region 2.
She worked with the former USA Rhythmic Gymnastics National Team Coach Marina Davidovich and was able to train Olympian Qualifiers for the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. Coach Arzu was a former National Brevet judge by FIG and she is a USAG safety certified professional.
Coach Arzu holds a bachelor's degree in Physical Education and Sports and a degree in Classical Ballet from MEB Neriman Balle Okulu in Turkey. Born in Bulgaria, she began her rhythmic and ballet training at the age of 7. She became the only solo gymnast and the youngest performer with the local circus and traveled around the country. She was selected to train at the Bulgarian National Gymnastics Center. As a performer, she was a principal artist/dancer at the Mersin University D.K. Turkey and at the East Athens Educational Dance Center in GA, USA.
Some of her achievements are:
- Published writer of the book "Rhythmic Gymnastics" in 1993
- "First Rhythmic Coach" introducing the Rhythmic program in Bursa, Turkey with Bulgarian World Champion Maria Gigova
- Chosen the "Best Sport Team" in her city Bursa, Turkey in 1993
- Ballet Program Designer- Turkish National Team, 1993-1994
- Trained her gymnasts National Team Qualifier in 1995
- Trained children with intellectual disabilities that participated at the 1990 Special Olympics in Canada
Coach Arzu feels lucky because she is able to follow her dream by helping children reach beyond what they think is possible. Her fulfillment and victory lie in believing in each child.
"I'm very happy we have established a powerful program that serves our community with grace and beauty! Truly proud that so many of my gymnasts are coaching with me at the Academy. Some of them are in college, some of them are married and some are working. I have to say that they all have grown to be wonderful and remarkable young women, living with a purpose, working toward a goal. Rhythmic gymnastics has taught them discipline, elegance, and strength."- Arzu Karaali
Shawnene has been with the La Luna RGA since 2012, helping gymnasts with presentation and drama. In 2016, she received the “Coach of the Year” award from the USAG Rhythmics Region 2. She is currently the artistic and creative design consultant for the annual La Luna Kiss performance. Shawnene is a USAG safety certified professional.
She obtained her strong background in music and drama from being part of numerous community theater musical productions. Her most memorable production was “The Baker’s Wife” at the Everett Performing Arts Center. Shawnene thrives in creating things- from stage props and paintings to crafts and costumes. Through all her experience, she is able to help build the gymnasts’ confidence and artistry. Prior to joining La Luna RGA, Shawnene spent over 20 years working as a corporate technical project manager. She has lived in Washington state since 1994 and is married with 3 beautiful children, all heavily involved in sports.
“I love the stage, performance, and everything that goes with it. I contribute to the girls by teaching them how to deal with all that nervous energy and showing them ways to make it work for them with confidence.” - Shawnene Hersey
Coach Glika has been with La Luna RGA since 2013, initially as one of Coach Arzu's and Coach Lyudmila's competitive gymnasts while also continuing with 6 years of ballet training and competed in 2018 Youth America Grand Prix Ballet Competition. She started coaching at the academy in 2019, training gymnasts in all levels for competitions, specifically levels 4 and 5. Glika is passionate about teaching young gymnasts in rhythmic gymnastics and preparing them for their long journey to success. She is a USAG safety certified professional.
She started her rhythmic gymnastics training at 7 years of age. She has been Region 2 champion five consecutive times (2015-2019), and USAG athlete of the year in 2016. Glika has qualified for the Junior Olympic team two years in a row and competed at the 2018 USA Gymnastics Championships in North Carolina. Before retiring as a Level 8 gymnast to focus on academics, she competed in the 2019 USA Junior Olympics at Lake Placid and achieved first place in every event and the all around.
Glika is currently a hardworking high school student in the rigorous Royal Cambridge Program at Juanita High School, class of 2022. She has earned a 4.0 GPA and continues strong. Her future plans are to attend university and find herself a career in medicine that matches her diligent energy.
Leila Magnolia Smith
Coach Leila is our Pre-Team Coach, and in-house circus performer! Her main skill set lies in apparatus manipulation. She has been coaching for 5 years in both disciplines, has brought her own flair combining the two styles in one in various hoop workshops, and classes from coast to coast. Leila studied at international yoga, and circus artist residencies. There she contributed to a non-profit campaign that brought social circus to Nicaragua, and Indonesia. Coach Leila brings a ‘high-vibe’ energy to everything she does, including coaching people of all ages and backgrounds.
"I love seeing my students, big or small, succeed through working hard, and having fun! "~Coach Leila
Coach Remi has been part of the La Luna RGA since 2013. She studied rhythmic gymnastics previously for recreation. She enjoys dancing and loves working with children. Teaching is her passion and she spends long hours with the children during summer camps. Coach Remi helps with presentation and costume preparation for the end of the week performances. She is a USAG safety certified professional.
Coach Tami has been with La Luna RGA since 2009 initially as one of Coach Arzu’s competitive gymnasts. She started coaching at the academy in 2012, training gymnasts in all levels for competitions, specifically levels 3 and 4. In 2014, she was awarded “Coach of the Year” for level 4 by the USAG Rhythmics Region II. During the summer camps, she works intensively with the beginner gymnasts. Tami is an assistant choreographer for the annual La Luna Kiss performance. She is a USAG safety certified professional.
She started her rhythmic gymnastics training at 3 years of age and later was under coach Ella Koskov, in Israel. In 2008, she placed 3rd at the Israel Nationals. She moved to the United States at 13 years old and trained at La Luna RGA under coach Arzu Karaali. Before retiring as a Level 9 gymnast, she qualified for the Nationals and competed at the 2012 Junior Olympics in Florida.
Tami is currently studying physiology at the University of California in San Diego. She loves coming back home to La Luna RGA and training gymnasts during her breaks.