Coaching Staff

Sonja Clark (Head Coach and Levels 5)

Sonja loved gymnastics as a child. She started when she was five years old and continued through the beginning of high school. While in college at San Francisco State University, she instructed gymnastics for the City of San Mateo Parks and Recreation Department. After college, she moved to Washington, DC for graduate school at American University. In 2002, Sonja returned to California and instructed gymnastics for the City of Stockton Parks and Recreation Department.
Upon moving back to Washington, DC in 2004, Sonja found a new home instructing gymnastics for the Arlington Gymnastics program. Sonja has worked with the Aerials and Tiger competitive teams, coordinated lesson plans for the pre-school program, and taught recreational gymnastics classes. Sonja is USA Gymnastics Safety Certified.  She judged her first JO meet last year.  She lives in Falls Church with her husband Chris and twin daughters Anna-Kristina and Nora-Elizabeth.  Sonja loves international travel, art and culture, hiking and kayaking. 

Joey Barefield (Levels 6+)

Joey developed an interest in gymnastics at the age of six while living in Wheaton. Being heavily involved in martial arts, he saw gymnastics as a way to enhance his martial arts skills. Needless to say, the passion for gymnastics quickly outweighed that of martial arts after being enrolled in a summer gymnastics session. Joey competed up to level 6 while living in Maryland. At the age of 10 his military parents got reassigned to Washington State and that’s when a long pause in gymnastics began. From then on he spent his life involved in a variety of sports from soccer, baseball and basketball and skateboarding. Later in life, the passion for gymnastics returned, so he enrolled in local adult gymnastics classes and trains three to four days a week. Joey joined the Arlington Tigers coaching staff in July 2016. He loves working with young gymnast and seeing their excitement and enthusiasm as they strive to reach their personal goals during their training sessions and during competitions. He is quick to give praise, and to cheer on a gymnast’s success as they learn and perform their skills. 

Jesse Clay (Xcel Gold)

Jesse was a star football player at Paul IV High School in Fairfax, VA. He became a gymnastics instructor for the Arlington Gymnastics program in 2007. Since then, Jesse has provided critical support for expanding the boys programs. He began coaching the Tigers team in 2009, developed a level 3 boys class to provide more opportunities for boys excel in gymnastics. Outside of the gym, Jesse is a recording artist in Alexandria, who also does break dancing and Parkour.

Caitlyn Pankey-Graves (Level 4 & Xcel Silver)

Caitlyn began her gymnastics career with Arlington Gymnastics at age 3. She soon moved her way through preschool classes into the Teddy Bears and the Stars programs and competed for the Arlington Aerials until age 13. After retiring her leotards, Caitlyn began cheerleading for both her middle and high school and became a Division 1 collegiate cheerleader for Longwood University in 2014. Caitlyn joined the Arlington Gymnastics staff in 2013 as a Gymnastics Instructor and joined the Arlington Tigers staff in 2018.

Bryan Johnson (Level 7+)

Bryan started preschool classes at Barcroft when he was three years old and joined the Arlington Tigers as a competitive gymnast when he was seven. He competed with the team until he graduated high school in 2018, after which he spent the following year working at the gym coaching the next generation of Tigers, as well as the following two summers improving his coaching skills at International Gymnastics Camp in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. Bryan is now a sophomore at Christopher Newport University where he is also the vice-president of the club gymnastics team. He enjoys coming home during time off from school to help out and watch the boys progress in the sport.