By Megan Messerly/The Nevada Independent

All Cassie Rice wants to do is coach.

The Henderson gym owner wishes she didn’t have to require her staff and kids to wear hot, stuffy masks during practice. She doesn’t want to be thinking about her employees’ vaccination status. She’s a gymnastics coach, not a doctor, epidemiologist or virologist.

But she also doesn’t want to see any of her youngest gymnasts, not yet eligible for the shot, fall ill with COVID-19. She doesn’t want another employee out on quarantine. She doesn’t want to see her gymnastics team lose its third dad in a year and a half to the virus.

For the last several weeks, Rice has been gently nudging her employees to get vaccinated. She has sent emails sharing vaccine research and data. She has told her staff she prefers they get the shot. She isn’t hiring anyone new that is unvaccinated.

The nudging has only gone so far, though. Rice estimates there are about 15 unvaccinated holdouts among 90 employees between her family’s Henderson and Summerlin gyms.

When one told Rice she believed there was still too much “mystery” around the vaccine, Rice tried to persuade her with an analogy.

“I just said, ‘I think when you’re thinking about being an expert, I’m an expert in the field of gymnastics, so people can ask me questions about that. But we are not experts in epidemiology or science in any way. We have to defer to people who study this for a living,’” Rice said. “‘A parent can’t come in and tell me the better way to teach this gymnastics move. They don’t know. That’s how it should be with this.’”

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