The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – August 4, 2020

A. D-D Retires

We all woke this morning to news that D-D Breaux is retiring from LSU after a storied 175 years as head coach of the program. She has been there for so long and done so much that her retirement can’t really be considered surprising, but I was definitely also thinking she had a good 8 decades left in her and would stay on as coach exactly until LSU won her a national title.

In terms of influence—being there from the beginning and building a small group of 1980s-haired gymnastics nomads into a powerful civilization by face-burning anyone who stood in her way—D-D should be mentioned right along with her trailblazing conference cohorts Suzanne and Sarah. But I’d say it wasn’t until this most recent stint of LSU success that her significance started to be consistently and rightfully mentioned in the same sentence as Sarah, Suzanne, Greg, Val, and the like.

In this current era, we’ve seen the attendance really start to blossom, we’ve seen LSU start consistently winning conference titles and emerge as a perennial threat to win nationals. With that status inevitably comes recognition of the person who has been building up those stones for decades.

Like any good Roman emperor, D-D hand-selected her successor well in advance of her departure and established Jay Clark as her co-ruler before last season. Jay will now take over as lone head coach of a gymnastics program for the first time since “resigning” at Georgia in 2012. Microscopes and opera glasses out to see if it goes better this time around.

B. The Deal with Terin

This week, Terin Humphrey disclosed that she is a survivor and is filing to join the other survivors in the suit against Nassar, describing in detail the occasions of the abuse and the nature of her post-traumatic stress disorder with delayed expression.

This has led to some fraught hand-wringing about what to do with Terin, who is supposed to be one of The Bad Guys, but I don’t think it’s actually that complicated. You can support her status as a survivor (yes, join the lawsuit, get that justice) while continuing to have the exact same problems with her other behavior that you did before.

For instance, Terin’s argument in this second article is…some nonsense overall. She’s arguing that USAG mistreated her in removing her from her position after the whole Facebook meme debacle, but this is one of those rare occasions where I’m Team USAG. It was entirely appropriate for the organization to get rid of her after the post (and, most critically, her lack of remorse or demonstration of understanding afterward). It seems there remains little desire from Terin to apologize or understand why her behavior upset people, especially coming from someone in her position. So while her being a survivor may provide some context to her later behavior, it doesn’t provide an eraser.

But by all means Terin should keep talking about how Steve Penny tried to influence team selection procedures because we need to hear a lot more about that.

C. Klages Sentencing

Today, former Michigan State head coach Kathie Klages was sentenced to 3.25 white ladies in prison (the metric equivalent of 90 days) for lying to police during their investigation of That Guy.

She maintains that little-old-me can’t remember such things but also that little-old-me is a good lady who would never do anything that a bad lady would do.

But Larissa Boyce is like, “I told you in 1997, good day bye.”

Speaking of which, the Senate just passed the Empowering Olympic and Amateur Athletes Act of 2019 which makes ALL Y’ALL mandatory reporters, allows for more congressional oversight of the board of directors of the USOPC, requires the USOPC provide $20 million annually to fund SafeSport, addresses some issues of conflicts of interest and retaliation, and gives SafeSport the power to audit national governing bodies to assess compliance and impose punishment for noncompliance.

Congress found that the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics fundamentally failed to uphold their existing statutory purposes and duty to protect amateur athletes from sexual, emotional, or physical abuse. USA Gymnastics and the United States Olympic Committee knowingly concealed abuse by Larry Nassar, leading to the abuse of dozens of additional amateur athletes during the period beginning in the summer of 2015 and ending in September 2016. Ending abuse in the Olympic and Paralympic movement requires enhanced oversight to ensure that the Olympic and Paralympic movement does more to serve athletes and protect their voice and safety.

D. Chellsie’s Comeback

It’s officially official officialburger now.

In case her training a DTY and piked Arabian on beam and Dos Santos on floor weren’t the kind of hint you were looking for, Chellsie Memmel said the c-word this week and confirmed that this comeback is a comeback.

May this journey not have to bear the burden of being the only good thing existing in the world for too much longer.

Her Olympic Channel interview is a must-watch.

E. Sam Mikulak Will Retire…Soonish

Sam Mikulak made a video-talking where he announced his intention to retire following the maybe-lympics of 2021. He’s retiring because of a chronic wrist injury and puppies. I think.

But also because it turns out that not competing makes him way happier than competing and he doesn’t want to have to do it anymore. As good a reason as any. Better even.

F. NCAA Rosters

LSU announced two additions to this year’s freshman class. Sierra Ballard (so…Lori Strong’s daughter, Jay Clark’s niece…BUT HOW DID SHE CHOOSE LSU) is joining the team, someone who put up very competitive AA scores as a JO athlete and should provide real lineup possibilities. LSU is also adding Chase Brock, who’s probably looking like a bars and floor depth option. This duo will join the big names already known about—Olivia Dunne, Haleigh Bryant, and Elena Arenas.

Penn State announced that Abi Walker—former elite from Texas Dreams—is joining the roster for the 2021 season. She was previously verbally committed but wasn’t among the fall signing announcements.

Meanwhile, Skinner confirmed that she won’t return to Utah if there is a 2021 season as she’s continuing to focus on the Olympics.

G. GymCastic

This week’s episode will be out in the vicinity of pretty soon, and you can watch it in the embedded player here the second it exists.

The competitions we have to look forward to this summer, and why this year is different from all other years SEA Games: Rifda Irfanaluthfi won the all-around title, Aleah Finnegan did the piked deltchev, Carlos Yulo did everything better than everyone, and we have some words about composition requirements Janelle McDonald is the new UCLA head coach. What should the first order of business be? Constant vigilance news out of the Netherlands, Great Britain, Canada, the US, and everywhere Plus, awards for Lexy Ramler and Trinity Thomas, Fisk's first gymnast, which gymnasts are coming back to college for extra years, which familiar names excelled at L10 nationals, Chuso doing Chuso, and Simone's new reality show And your feedback on the live show, rewarding difficulty, toxic coaches, college 10s, and who can hope to be a good gymnast JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd (or give it as a gift!) for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have a Ukraine Fundraiser design, all proceeds go to the CARE Ukraine Crisis fund. WATCH HERE Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded and see some of the gymnastics we discuss, plus get access to all of our exclusive interviews and Behind The Scenes episodes.  RELATED EPISODES & RESOURCES Donate grips and tape for Ukrainian gymnasts Donate to family of Alabama volunteer assistant coach in Ukraine To follow the effects of the Russian invasion to Ukraine on gymnastics, go to Gymnovosti GYMKATA The Leotard Episode: Part Deux NCAA Championships 2022 Winter Cup Recap Spitfire: The Movie (Commissioned) Nadia: The Movie (Commissioned)
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