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Our People

Our People

Elizabeth Lilla – Founder

Elizabeth has been involved in gymnastics for nearly her entire life. After retiring from competition while in high school, Liz caught the coaching bug and never looked back! She coached at a local gymnastics club all through college. Upon earning her doctorate in occupational therapy from Creighton University, Liz decided to chase her dream of opening a gymnastics club, where she could share her love of the sport with as many children as possible. In January of 2007, she founded Metro Stars Gymnastics with a total of 5 students. Things picked up from there, and by the year’s end, Liz had a growing program. She was named the Nebraska Occupational Therapy Association’s “Practitioner of the Year” for developing the Special Stars Program here at Metro Stars Gymnastics. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her four children, Katie, Juliette, Samantha, and Charlie,  as well as reading, and running.


Erik Lilla – Founder 

Erik began his gymnastics career shortly after completing a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Nebraska. Invited by Elizabeth to do running drills with some compulsory gymnasts, he quickly fell in love with the sport of gymnastics. Shortly after that, Erik served as the Nebraska State TOPs Manager and had the opportunity to take his athletes to the national TOPs test at the Olympic Training Center in Houston, TX. Armed with a passion for sharing the sport of gymnastics with as many children as possible, Erik founded Metro Stars Gymnastics in late January 2006 with five students. In 2015 Erik was selected by the Midlands Business Journal as one of their 40 Under 40 entrepreneurs, executives, and professionals for his role in the growth and development of Metro Stars Gymnastics. Erik holds the prestigious Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S.) credential offered by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (N.S.C.A.). In his free time, Erik enjoys spending time with his wife and four children, Katie, Juliette, Samantha, and Charlie.


Ashlee Emerson – General Manager

Ashlee joined the Metro Stars Guest Services team in 2018, and became General Manager in 2021.  She brought 11 years of customer service and 7 years of leadership to her role, and works hard to keep the cogs turning with our team.  Ashlee spends much of her time outside of the gym traveling or planning her next trip.  She is a self-professed nut about penguins and the color purple which is why you might see more purple items around the gym these days.


Dakotah Owens – Guest Services Director

Dakotah brings a ton of customer service experience to her role!  She also has a great understanding of the operations of the gym from her 7 years as a competitive gymnast.  She has been part of the Metro Stars team since 2021, and makes a bigger impact every day.  When asked about something kids would find entertaining, she shared she wore an eyepatch like a pirate when she was younger!


Hiedi Higgins – Developmental Director

Hiedi joined Metro Stars in 2022. Before she moved to Nebraska, she coached throughout the Midwest for over 15 years including Michigan, Wisconsin, and Missouri. She has been married for 29 years and has 4 adult children and 4 grandchildren. Her joy is seeing happy faces when a gymnast does something they never thought they could do!


Kyle King – Boys Director

Kyle grew up in Texas and competed on the UNL gymnastics team.  In January, 2020, he joined Metro Stars as the Boys Recreational and Team Director.  Kyle is working toward a goal of becoming an airline pilot, so outside of the gym you will likely find him studying or flying a plane.


Angelica Buford – Trampoline and Tumbling Director

Angelica joined Metro Stars in 2021 as the T&T Director, bringing 9 years of gymnastics and 4 years of cheerleading experience with her.  She competed for 6 of the 9 years in gymnastics.  As the T&T Director, her focus is on the tumbling skills she honed in cheerleading, as well as trampoline skills, but her understanding of gymnastics also helps her influence the tumbling in other programs in the gym.  Also, she has a dog named Jojo who is a year old!


Troy James – Parties and Events Director

Troy joined Metro Stars in 2016 as a part time coach.  At that point, he hadn’t been a part of the sport as an athlete or coach.  However, his dedication and charisma helped him become one of our most capable coaches today.  In addition to coaching, he has made Parties and Events at Metro Stars super fun since 2020.  If you ask, Troy will gladly provide a recap of his most recent basketball game.  The man hustles!


Ashlynn Hovaldt – Xcel Team Director

Ashlynn has worked at Metro Stars since she was 16 years old, way back in 2013!  She has been the Staff Development Director since 2017, coaching in the Xcel Team program and leading our continual staff training effort.  She has recently been named the Xcel Team Director, and is gearing up for her first meet season in the driver’s seat.  In addition to careers, Ashlynn and her husband have a lot going on, juggling their their two children!


Cindy Mattox – Women’s Optional Team Director

Cindy has been involved with gymnastics since she was 4!  She spent 13 years as a competitive gymnast and dancer at Artistic Gymnastics Academy in Council Bluffs and has coached at Metro Stars since 2012.  Two interesting facts about Cindy are, she still holds the Buena Vista University 1 meter diving record, and when a gymnast gets a new skill for the first time Cindy can be heard from space!


Te’A Titus – Gymnastics Director

Te’A danced for 20 years, including 2 years as a dance captain, and also tumbled for 5 years.  She has worked at Metro Stars since 2017, primarily as a competitive team coach, and became a part of the Director team in March, 2022.  Te’A is passionate about learning, loves reading, and speaks two languages.  She highlights the Metro Stars core value of Learn and Grow by continuing to develop her ability to connect with kids of all skill levels.


Amy Williams – Marketing Director

Amy has a degree in Visual Communications, 20 years of experience in product and graphic design, as well as 6 years of experience in marketing.  She shares her creative influence through the cool graphics and images that show up on Metro Stars signs, printed materials, and apparel.  Amy has taken the Metro Stars image from ‘middle school art project’ to a cohesive and recognizable aesthetic that helps to illustrate that we at Metro Stars take fun pretty seriously – and boy are we proud of how she makes us look!  Outside of Metro Stars, Amy and her husband, Jeff, have two teenagers at home so please comfort her when you see her.

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