I wasn’t planning on doing one of these today, but…things happen.
This week, Ashton Kim and Kennedy Baker both wrote about their experiences at Texas Dreams—or as Ashton (and everyone’s legs) refer to it, Texas Nightmares.
Both statements are worth reading in their entirety, especially as several of these tales take Texas Dreams from the territory of “ah, these are adults who did not realize the damaging effect their words and actions had on the minor gymnasts they coached and could perhaps learn…” to the territory of “OH GOD.”
I mean, I’m not sure there’s any coming back from the HARROWING story of Kim cutting Kennedy’s hair right before nationals. Dear gymnastics coaches: why are you psychotic? Asking for an everyone.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 11, 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.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – August 4, 2020
Today, I return to the land of the gymming…and almost wrote the year in the post title as 2015. So that’s where we are.
A. Gymnast Alliance Netherlands
The gymnast alliance is growing ever stronger, with the biggest news yesterday coming from the Dutch federation, which announced the surprisingly intense move of shutting down the women’s elite program while an investigation is launched.
So, what does this mean?
The elite gymnasts will still be able to train independently at their clubs, but national team activities—which means both camps and competitions—will be stopped indefinitely, and coaches Gerben Wiersma and Vincent Wevers are currently suspended from coaching as the federation investigates further action.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 30, 2020
A. Denmark Says BYEEEEEE
Newsflash: Copenhagen does not want your hideous mouth droplets infecting its city.
Citing monies as the primary reason, Denmark has withdrawn from hosting the 2021 World Championships, still scheduled for the fall of 2021—just a few months after the rescheduled Olympics.
At this point, the FIG still intends to keep on trucking with the event by finding a new host, and we can assume that a couple of the usual suspect cities would still be on that truck…your Bakus and your Dohas, the cities most familiar with throwing random money at hosting fan-free events. They’ve been preparing for this for years. I can’t imagine many other cities would be jumping at the chance of hosting a money pit that might not even happen, though.
But we can hope. I’m still excited by the prospect of a post-Olympic worlds where Teja Belak rolls up to become world champion on vault.
B. 30 for 30: Bela Sucks
The 30 for 30 podcast series about how much Bela sucks—or, I mean, the Karolyi system—is out now. It’s seven episodes, and I’m three episodes in so far. There’s some good stuff in here, especially at the beginning with Emilia Eberle and her teammates talking about being trained by Bela in Romania and calling him Dracula, and some juicy unpacking of all the lies Bela told about himself and his fake dockworker background.
You also…spend a lot of time in episode two hearing from Steve Nunno and Mary Lou and Mike Jacki that I didn’t want to spend, but overall I’m into it.
I tried to dredge up the screenshot of Dracula labeled “Karolyi” from the NBC documentary about Bela and Martha’s love story from 2016, but it was not my finest screenshot work. I wish that were stull available somewhere. We’ve come a long way since 2016 in terms of the content being produced about Bela.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 15, 2020
A. Abuse News
You know, a stellar note to get started on.
British gymnasts—including Catherine Lyons and Lisa Mason in this report, and anonymous athletes in this report—are speaking out about specific abuses they experienced from their coaches and the culture of fear throughout British gymnastics.
Now…where have I heard that before? Oh right, it’s everywhere, all the time because the coaching culture in all of gymnastics, regardless of country, is rotten from the inside. Whenever we talk about abusive coaching there seems to be this need to clarify, “Now, of course, most coaches are wonderful and this doesn’t reflect blah blah blah blah,” but…clearly that’s not true. How many times do we have to hear these stories? Catherine’s horrific experience should be some shocking tale, but it’s not because it’s all part of a pattern.
Imagine how good Catherine Lyons could have been if she hadn’t been treated like garbage. I think about that eight times a week.
Meanwhile, in further gross news, Thierry Pellerin—Canadian pommel horse specialist who is a mainstay of the world cup circuit—has been arrested for sexual offenses against minors.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – July 6, 2020
Eh, there’s not that much this week, but here goes…
Athlete A. Out Now
The Netflix documentary on That Guy, and USAG, and the IndyStar investigation, and Maggie, and Rachael, and Jamie is out now.
For those who have followed what’s been happening in detail over the last four years, there’s not going to be a lot of new information there for you, but the documentary does do an impressive job of synthesizing that information and establishing a clear and understandable timeline of events and culpability. That can be really difficult to do with all the moving parts and little wisps of information that have come out here and there—and will be particularly valuable for the general public watching it.
For some reason, USAG decided it needed to make a statement…about the film…today? It didn’t go over awesome. (Guys, you didn’t even have to say anything.)
OK. First of all, you’re not supposed to take this opportunity to pat yourself on the back for some great job you’ve done since they came forward, because…highly debatable and no you haven’t. I do think some things are improving and that the leadership staff is better, but it’s like you want a standing ovation for getting off the couch. Make it to the toilet and then we’ll talk.
Also they didn’t do it for you. USAG taking this documentary and focusing on what it has learned or improved because of Maggie still assumes that she exists to serve USAG or to make the organization better. “Debt of gratitude.” Like she gave you something. You took from her, so much. And now you need to give her something. Such as…everything she and the other survivors are asking for.
Continue reading Things Are Happening – June 25, 2020