The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – April 30, 2020

A. Bad Maggie

Oof. I’m out of practice with this, it’s been so long. How does one…say…the things…that are happening?

A week on from when USAG told those involved that it would be announcing a verdict in the Maggie Haney affair (CALENDARS ARE HARD, Y’ALL—what with the days and the boxes), we learned today that Haney has been suspended for eight years for ruining the life of national treasure Laurie Hernandez. Haney can apply to be reinstated after those eight years and would then be on probation for a further two, but eight years is a loooong time…

Laurie discussed the mental toll of training with The Haney in an instagram post today, and everyone went, “You could tell by that leg pose.” Burned into my brain.

In the most recent information about this case, we also learned that Riley McCusker was among the athletes who affirmed to the hearing panel that Maggie sucks, which had not been confirmed during the initial hearing. Remember when we were playing the “but Riley could stay with Maggie because she’s 18” game? Ye…no.

A couple things are worth pointing out here. First, everything that Maggie Haney is explicitly accused of—aggressive behavior including teasing and ridiculing, screaming, swearing, bullying, harassing, humiliating, fat shaming, having gymnasts compete on injuries—is both awful and remarkably common. I’d imagine the majority of former elites are reading that list and saying, “oh, you mean a Tuesday?”

One hopes that this massive suspension will serve as a warning to the multitude of coaches doing the exact same things on a daily basis. That’s what USAG hopes as well.

Part B, remember that time the NBC ranch documentary took a break from the ranch to tell us that THANK GOD when Laurie isn’t at the ranch she has someone like Maggie Haney to guide her? A really stellar artifact that one was.


Finally, I think this is the part where I’m supposed to be like, “I COULD TELL WHEN I MET HER” because I did meet Maggie once for a GymCastic interview almost three years ago now, but that’s not really the story. She was intense, but we got along, sharing grapes and sarcasm and nerding out about leaps and the valuation of Riley’s bars dismount. Because you don’t really know what’s going on unless you’re in the gym.

B. Dan Kendig

We got some actual information this week about why Dan Kendig abruptly resigned under mysterious circumstances from the head coaching position at Nebraska a while back. Everyone’s relieved that on the spectrum of the reasons gymnastics coaches have to resign, this is like a 1.

Basically, Nebraska was paying its volunteer assistant coach for choreography and floor music, which is a no-no and meant that Nebraska was operating with more than the maximum of three paid coaches.

It’s a conundrum many schools face unless one of the three paid coaches is good (or competent?) at choreography, needing floor choreography but not being allowed to pay an extra coach for that service. We end up with lots of schools retaining a “volunteer” assistant coach to do choreography—someone who is not supposed to be compensated for all of that work despite it being an essential job—so the schools then have to finagle some other way for that person to be compensated because…uh…they deserve to be paid for doing a job. You know, that old thing.

So, one the one hand, everyone has to follow these rules, you knew the rules, and knew you were breaking them when you broke them. But on the other hand, this isn’t a…see item A?…situation, so I’m not wasting that much thinking time on it. Other than the fact that the fictional company name was Fantasy Floor Music. I’m thinking about that a lot.

I am concerned by the notion that the gymnasts were expected to pay $300 each for choreography and hope that they were being reimbursed under the table by the school or something (you know, allowed things).

I also don’t know why we’re not naming the volunteer coach in question even though it’s obvious who it is. But apparently that’s something we’re doing? One has to wonder what the compensation system was at all of his previous gigs.

C. Denisa Golgota retired

Word on the gymternet is that Denisa Golgota, who singlehandedly carried Romanian gymnastics around wrapped in a handkerchief tied to a stick for the entire last quadrennium, has retired.

Golgota was expected to qualify an individual Olympic spot for Romania through the all-around at last year’s world championships, but a true disaster of a competition in qualification—for which it’s easy now in retrospect to say she looked done—saw her miss out on that spot to Maria Holbura. Golgota struggled through most of 2019, finishing 17th in the all-around at European Championships and even dropping to 6th AA at Romanian nationals, not able to live up to the success of a 2018 year that saw her win two medals at Europeans.

Golgota’s retirement will put even more pressure on the talented new seniors Ioana Stanciulescu and Silviana Sfiringu for the coming quad, and please feel free to ignore all history and be excited about them.

D. Randy Lane at LIU

If you choose to believe that there will one day be colleges again, Randy Lane has been announced as the head coach of the newest collegiate gymnastics program, Long Island University, which is slated to join division I competition in the 2021 season.

Randy has been a head coach before at UCSB, in addition to acting as associate head coach at a solid 85% of NCAA gymnastics programs, most recently finding himself embroiled in that unholy trinity of potential replacements for Miss Val. Nice to see him landing at a new program.

E. GymCastic

This week, we elected to do a rundown of the gymternet news…riiiiggght before things started actually happening. Awesome. We also get deep into the weeds on proper inbars and Huang Mandan, so I’m over the moon.

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