Things Are Happening – August 29, 2018

A. Oof


You guys.

Because of the New USAG—the one with SO MUCH FRESH START that is committed to both listening AND hearing the survivors—the organization has selected fresh-faced newcomer Mary Lee Tracy as the latest coordinator of the US elite developmental program, the program that comprises the steps before junior elite for athletes on that track.

This is the same position that Valeri Liukin held in the Late Martha Dynasty (circa 2012-16), and that Tom Forster held in the Valerian Interregnum Period of 2017.

So yeah. Sigh. Among the problems here…

This is the most status quo-reinforcing decision USAG could possibly have made. MLT has been a loyal USAG soldier for many years and a public supporter of Martha and the Martha system, someone who seemed fully ready to keep on truckin’ with the same old ways, along with her best buddy, the ranch.

At a time when USAG needs to be committed to bringing in outsiders, coaches who have disagreed with USAG’s methodology or broken with the organization in the past and therefore could present actual contrary viewpoints and would be most fiercely committed to change, it has instead folded in on itself once again and selected someone who is very much part of The Club. Because of course it did. What kind of improvement is this supposed to bring?

How many times, USAG?

This is the choice of an organization that thinks, “Everything’s going great! Let’s keep it up!” It lifts the mask off USAG’s halfhearted projection that it’s listening to (AND HEARING) survivors and bringing in new voices and perspectives and attempting to change. It isn’t. Clearly.

Instead, USAG is just rotating in and out the same damn people.

So now let’s talk about the stuff with That Guy. Famously, MLT went out of her way to express how “amazing” That Guy was. It shouldn’t even matter when this statement was made, but it was made after 50 survivors had already come forward.

Cosmetically, MLT has developed a reputation over the years for truly caring about the athletes (especially because of 1996, where compared to Bela or Nunno she looked like the dream), but that impression rings hollow in the face of behavior like this. How little must she actually think of the athletes for her knee-jerk reaction to be that they’re liars and that their abuser is an amazing guy? How are the athletes supposed to trust someone who clearly hasn’t trusted them? This comes up again and again, like when she joined Kelli Hill in denying Aly Raisman’s experience of the ranch and praising the ranch as a learning environment for the athletes, even after knowing about the abuse so many suffered there.

Really? A learning environment?


And then there are concerns raised by athletes like Alyssa Beckerman and Dominique Moceanu about old-fashioned, ill-informed attitudes toward weight and diet.

And that doesn’t even get into less concrete issues like CGA’s reputation as the archdiocese of Sister Mary Lee Full of Burnout, which isn’t exactly auspicious from a “developmental” perspective.

So, you know, bang-up job once again.

B. Ugh more

Kathie Klages, former head coach at Michigan State, faces two charges of lying to police and will be turning herself in on Thursday.

Lesson: Listen to your athletes, believe them, do right by them, don’t defend pedophiles, and don’t lie to the police.

I feel like we shouldn’t have to go through that, but here we are.

Oh, and USAG decided to permanently ban Kathie Klages. Yesterday. So proactive. Thank you once again for being three laps behind reality, as per usual.

Meanwhile, the saddest: Sae Miyakawa wants to continue training with her coach who was fired for physical abuse.

C. Actual gymnastics

Oh, there isn’t any right now. So all you get to do is think about Mary Lee. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Up next on the schedule is the US national team camp beginning on September 6th, which will include the Pan Ams team (preparing for competition the next week) as well as anyone else who will be in contention for the world championships team.

But to make you feel better, Sunisa Lee did a Shap 1/2 + Gienger

“You can’t really connect a Gienger out of a Shap 1/2 because there’s no way you would have enough swing to complete the Gienger.” – me, until this moment.

D. GymCastic

It happened. During nationals, Jessica had a chance to interview Aly and Lynn Raisman about ALL OF IT.

It’s goooooood. The stuff about Steve Penny and sponsorships and weight and medical attitudes within USAG absolutely ended me. I don’t think you can listen to this interview and not come away understanding exactly why so many of the survivors are so passionate about decertifying USAG.

You don’t need me to tell you that you should listen.

42 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – August 29, 2018”

  1. It stuns me that MLT’s name was even put forth as an option… but I guess nothing USAG does , or doesn’t do, should surprise me….

    I get that she has her legion of devotees who back her but I would venture a guess that her detractors (including her former gymnasts who suffered under her warped guidance and the Nassar survivors who she flat out doubted) would outnumber them. Her track record on food/fat shaming and breaking gymnasts should have been an absolute rule out for a developmental coordinator, never mind her deplorable post Nassar behavior and her defense of how the Ranch was run…..

    Is Kerry Perry trolling us all with this pick? You have to wonder…

    1. Duuuudeeee when I informed my boyfriend of this pick today, & why it’s appalling & infuriating, he asked me “Do you think that dumbass new CEO is trolling the whole gymnastics world?!”

      I fucking wish it was a joke. If only…

  2. I was in the “they can turn this ship around” camp after the initial change of guard, but now that KP has been shown to be still utterly uninformed and useless and full of mealworms, along with this MLT appointment, I think I’m Team Decertify now.

  3. I am a person that really hates people who complain just to complain. Don’t complain if your are not willing to fix the problem. I really felt that was what Aly Raisman was doing until I listened to her Gymcastic
    interview. I apologize Aly, I was wrong. Keep it up!!!

    With all that being said, I have seen no one including Aly, The Balance Beam Situation, The Gymternet, Gymcastic, Miss Val or any others offer a name for any of the positions at USAG that work directly with the athletes, but they sure complain about anybody who is named for those positions!!

    1. that’s the entire point, silly. we can’t name the names because all the names we know are garbage who allowed abuse to happen. find us someone we literally never heard of before and hopefully they are not garbage (as kerry perry turned out to be).

    2. Ok I’ll bite….while I didn’t “offer a name” for whom the next head of the developmental team should be, I certainly didn’t think it would be someone with a track record of fat shaming, weighing athletes, breaking gymnasts and shaming sexual abuse victims ( and defending said sexual abuser to boot…. ” he’s such a nice guy”) …

      So I offer a few names who should NOT be in any type of position like this …MLT , Kelli Hill, Al Fong, Terin Humphrey ( who should’ve been removed for her lack of action ) among others people may add…and may I suggest Aimee Boorman FOR the position, although she may not want it….

    3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jordyn Wieber. She’s a survivor of the abuse, she’s a world and olympic champion, and she now has coaching experience. Put her in charge and let Aly run the PR. Clean house and start fresh with these two.

      1. I agree she’d be a great choice, but she seems set on being Val’s legacy plan

    4. Sarah Jantzi. Maggie Nichol’s coach; successful elites, L10s and college gymnasts. Not old guard.

      More importantly, did the right thing when confronted with a case of sexual abuse, and immediately reported. Supported her athlete and her athletes’ family.

      1. So here is the issue with that. Sarah Jantzi, she technically didn’t report to the police. While a strong argument can be made that she reported to someone who she thought would go to law enforcement, the fact remains that she did not go to the police and similar to the argument against Rhonda 50-100 additional girls got abused because the police were not immediately involved. So while Sarah Jantzi had a great reputation with her elites….you run into the same issue as with Rhonda. Technically reporting to Rhonda and Steve Penny was not enough.

    5. Honestly? You’re honestly going to call criticizing USAG “complaining just to complain”? How about you counter all the reasons people give for criticizing USAG with reasons why we shouldn’t “complain”?

      This is an organization that turned its back on the children in its care. This hire is a woman who defended the pedophile who abused those children. This is a truly alarming hire. I agree we should seek solutions, but a hire like this also just needs criticism.

      Also, BBS, The Gymternet, Gymcastic, and Val all don’t have any pull at USAG and they know that. Why should they be lobbying for candidates? (And a lot of them did mention that they’d like Aimee.)

    6. Actually, Gymcastic did offer a name, which was Nick Ruddock.

      I’ll offer one although the problem would be convincing her to do it – Sarah Patterson, the former Alabama coach. Good administrator and good coach. No history of abuse.

    7. I think that anyone in the elite world is too stained for the gymternet to accept them -even the ones that tried, like Faehn and Jantzi. Thr only one I could think of is Zmeskal, maybe? The truly great already fled or were driven out, in many cases to NCAA. So I would look there first, honestly. Some of the older and newer guard are there, and they are great coaches accustomed to their athletes being treated like people (Waller, Ray, a dozen others).

      1. Not Zmeskal. Zmeskal is a good coach with no bad history and no horror stories from her former gymnasts. She seems like a nice person who cares about her athletes and her athletes appear to like her. She is extremely oriented towards details, towards knowing the rules, following procedure, fairness, keeping up to date with new studies, and is a judge to boot. In most ways she would be an ideal candidate.

        But the second she takes a national team job, “twitter” is going to pit her against the Karolyis, because she’s still close to them and had a good experience with them. Then “twitter” will denounce her for not denouncing the Karolyis, news organizations will pick up on it, and everything will descend from there and Zmeskal will go from being a nice, well-respected coach and having her nice, safe, well-managed gym to some scorned, shamed persona non grata in USAG. Zmeskal should stay where she is and keep doing what she’s doing, for her own sake.

  4. I was just thinking the other day how cool it would be if someone could connect a Shap 1/2 into a Tkatchev but I guess I’ll take a Gienger

  5. ““You can’t really connect a Gienger out of a Shap 1/2 because there’s no way you would have enough swing to complete the Gienger.” – me, until this moment.”

    Maybe you don’t watch enough old school gymnastics. Stuff back in the old days used to be done with so little amplitude out of giants, it’s obvious these skills can also be done out of shaps and shap halves. There are also some athletes who have a lot of amplitude out of shaps and shap halves, it’s like they have to slow their swing down at the top. They could absolutely do high jaegers and giengers and whatever else out of shap type skills.

    1. Yup. I don’t think that is disqualifying on its own because there are many coaches who I would put in the “good choice” column whose athletes were also victims. I just can’t believe she was still publicly defending him after 50 women had already come forward. When her own athlete came forward, it made her defense of him look even more tone deaf (which I didn’t think was possible).

  6. Im guessing MLT was literally the only person who would accept that dumpster fire of a job. I just feel bad for Simone who was a victim and now has to go to camp with an enabler/abuser of sorts herself.

  7. What are the solutions you all gymnerds think should be implemented to handle gymnasts diet and their weight? How should it be handled?

    1. Actual, trained nutritionists need to work with the athletes to make sure that they get the nutrients and calories they need to stay at peak physical shape. Psychologists need to work with them as well to spot and signs of emerging eating disorders, and coaches need to leave diet to the professionals. You wouldn’t have a plumber fix your electricity, and we shouldn’t have gymnastics coaches playing nutritionists based on hunches or rumors. Read Aly’s book for more info on how much a nutritionist helped her during her comeback.

      1. And how is that implemented for each girl at camp? Not one girl who did this on her own? FOR USAG not for 1 gymnast.

      2. Yo momma – two options – bring the (actual, trained) nutritionist to camp. Or, alternatively, stay the eff out of it and not even raise weight as an issue.

      3. This is one of the things I absolutely loved from her interview…as a former gymnast, I was never aware of how much a balanced diet helped you until I started running and training for marathons. My fiance is a chef and really into the nutritional aspect and his meals 100% helped me train and not feel tired or ran-down in the process.

  8. Hmm so weight shouldnt ever be brought up in a sport? interesting wishful thinking you have there. This is the delusion I speak of. These blanket statements of how to fix something by keyboard warriors. Be realistic! Weight, is important to sports, its brought up, dont like it, stay the fuck outta a gym! It matters. It should be handled in the correct way. But no one is saying how, just crying online about from the snowflake generations of offense! I guess ever girl at camp etc, will need a lawyer, psychologist, to discuss weight and proper nutrition!

    1. Weight should be brought up by someone with actual training in nutrition who can make sure that the athletes’ health needs are met– which means staying at a healthy weight to do gymnastics safely. USAG could certainly provide a nutritionist to make out plans for each gymnast on the national team if they wanted to. Why is that so hard to believe? As we’ve seen time and again, being skinny alone doesn’t make gymnastics safer if it’s achieved in unsafe ways. That can affect bone density, leading to more injuries. Improved nutrition will help decrease injuries and increase longevity, which can only benefit USAG.

    2. Lots of people have brought up trained dieticians and nutritionists. Staying out of it is only if they aren’t willing to go that route. Because those are the two alternatives. You use trained people who know what they are talking about or you don’t talk about it. You want to talk about keyboard warriors…pot, kettle, black.

      1. Yep. I’m not a keyboard warrior. So keep that dirty ass black pot you got there sis! Nowhere did I offer some magical solution like its easy as pie. You snowflakes, want retribution FOR EVERYONE, not just the criminals instead of rehabilitation for the ones who committed no crimes, but merely kept a bad system in place for not knowing better, that’s the difference. Knee jerk, DESTROY THEM ALL. As if gymnastics is such super popular sport with hundreds and hundreds of people just sitting around with the expertise to do all that is required for USAG… The pool is small.

      2. The fact that you are posting on a soapbox literally makes you a keyboard warrior but whatever.

        I’m not sure why suggesting that they use people trained in the field they are discussing is such a crazy or difficult solution. It’s not freaking rocket science and I’m not sure how that is being a snowflake.

    3. “to discuss weight and proper nutrition”
      …That’s THE WHOLE POINT, the coaches don’t know proper nutrition and are going by a “less weight and less food is better” mentality which isn’t actually based in proper nutrition.

      1. Also just a note given how demeaning and dismissive you are about the gymnasts saying they’re just “snowflakes” who can’t handle these discussions: Aly has had nothing but praises for her dietitian, and in her book she includes an anecdote where he told her to spit out a peppermint she was eating immediately because it had refined sugar. He wasn’t just her yes-man who told her whatever she wanted to hear. She seemed perfectly able to handle it when he told her things she didn’t.

        The issue isn’t that these girls just don’t have strong enough compositions to deal with nutrition and body composition conversations. It’s that the coaches encourage unhealthy eating patterns which don’t actually promote health.

    4. Is that you MLT or one of your designees? You seem a little too salty over the weight issue…

    5. Yo momma, your comments are bad and you should feel bad. Stop projecting onto the “keyboard warriors” you seem to resemble.

      Actual solutions people have proposed:
      – funding for national team members to access individualized and professional, accredited nutrition, medical, rehabilitative, and psychological services (this isn’t just to help the “snowflakes,” as having proper nutrition and support actually makes better athletes)
      – a national team dietician and sports psych. who would be present at all camps. One team dietician can make individualized plans for many team members. (No more than offered in MANY other sports, some much less lucrative than WGYM)
      – dividing the role of national team coordinator so that the person overseeing national team training is NOT the person selecting the teams. (Separation of powers. It works for democracies. It would work here.)

      I could go on but I think you’re here to provoke and not to learn.

  9. This makes me so sad, and furthermore the British system is on the slippery slope to being like this. No molestation scandal – yet – but the stories we’re hearing about the control of the athletes are alarmingly similar. Why do coaches think this is the way to success?!

  10. While I understand that MLT has said and very problematic things in the past and as recent as May 2018, I think that she said a lot of the right things in her interview on “I have cool friends”. I would like to hear more from her and Tom Forster on their coaching philosophies.

    1. Why though? It’s not like her past athletes haven’t very clearly laid out that their experiences with her should be disqualifying, and as you’ve pointed out, she’s been saying some really problematic stuff as recently as May (and more on TV last night). I can’t see why her coaching philosophy should be worth listening to at this point, unless it’s in, like, a historical book about crappy coaching we should leave behind.

  11. So if you click on that Dayton Daily News article Spencer linked, where MLT defends Nassar, the majority of the article is about MLT hiring ANOTHER pedophile, recommending him to Buckeye after he left, and then in 2013 writing a letter of support describing him as “a man full of courage, love, strength and dedication” when he was brought up on child pornography charges.

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