MADDY: Great we can do that, and they’re like, “How about this, how about this?” And they just fell all over the place, and it was like very gymnasts dream just to be like sloppy and terrible. And they were so good at it and none of them got hurt, it was great.[[EXPRESS YOURSELF INTRO MUSIC]]
JESSICA: This week, Maddy Curley of Stick It fame joins us with her writing partner to tell us all about her new gymnastics movie. And we discuss the Alexandrov Mustafina and Brazil rumors.
ALLISON TAYLOR: Hey gymnasts, Elite Sportz Band is a cutting edge compression back warmer that can protect your most valued asset: your back. I’m Allison Taylor on behalf of Elite Sportz Band. Visit elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: This is episode 36 for June 12, 2013. I’m Jessica from Masters-Gymnastics
BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: And this is the legendary and only gymnastics podcast ever, starting with the top news stories from around the gymternet. And Blythe there was absolute pandemonium. There as hair pulling. There was tweens throwing themselves off of buildings. There were tumblr wars this week because something’s going on with Alexandrov and Brazil and everyone’s freaking out about Aliya. Can you please tell us what’s happening?
BLYTHE: Well you know the good gossip this week in the gymternet, on the gymternet is coming out of Russia. There’s two different things, and we will get to Alina Kabaeva and Vladimir Putin in a second. But the thing that’s got everybody talking today is this idea that Alexander Alexandrov, this sort of architect of Aliya Mustafina’s success and her whole story, is going to leave Russia and go and work with the Brazilian team as they lead up to the 2016 Olympics, which is of course a huge thing for them. You know and Alexandrov, he has coached abroad before and to great success. A lot of gymnasts in the United States and in Canada have worked with him as juniors, and they have had fantastic senior careers. Dominique Moceanu is probably the most prominent example, and she really gives Alexandrov credit for molding her as a young gymnast into the successful senior that she later became. And so you know we can all sort of speculate about what does this bode for Mustafina, who did not work with Alexandrov during the European Championships, which she won. She looked in top form and very very strong during that. But there is a bit of, shall we say, tension, and a bit of “We’re not sure” you know? Is Alexandrov really leaving? Gym Blog Brazil, which covers gymnastics in Brazil, says yes, it’s confirmed, he’s going to Brazil. Valentina Rodionenko gave an interview in Russian that said he and Mustafina are no longer going to work with each other. They have had some sort of falling out and it’s just not tenable anymore. So it does sort of seem like the path is been clear for Alexandrov to leave Russia and to take his talents elsewhere if he chooses. But it’s hard to say because we have had no real official communication yet.
JESSICA: And of course the thing is that this would be a genius move on Brazil’s part. I mean this is exactly what Greece did before the Athens Olympics. They hired Arkaev to be there, and he was going back and forth between coaching the Greek gymnasts, so it would be genius if Brazil could pull this off. But for now, we don’t know what the real truth is, and we will just wait and see what happens with Aliya. And who knows, maybe Aliya will move to Brazil and train. Hm! Totally speculating, guessing. I’m sure that would never happen.
UNCLE TIM: Or maybe Aliya will stay in Russia and a new coach will fix her tragic twisting legs. That’s my hope.
BLYTHE: You guys, I think we’re too hard on Aliya for her tragic twisting legs. Because people say, “Oh she’s got bad form, it’s so awful.” But am I wrong, the only thing that she really needs to fix is that triple full.
JESSICA: Yeah and she’s not Ponor, she’s not that bad. It’s not Romanian bad. But she would be absolute perfection if she fixed that. So it makes it more- it stands out more when someone’s so perfect. It’s like if McCool crossed her legs, you know. You notice it so much because everything else is just so stunningly beautiful.
BLYTHE: So stateside there has been an awful lot happening this week as well. Uncle Tim, what are you thinking about these videos that we are getting from the Ranch, courtesy of USA Gymnastics?
UNCLE TIM: Well first of all, I love them. So I’m sure this somehow has to do with Scott Bregman’s genius. So thank you Scott.
BLYTHE: For Scott
UNCLE TIM: And so I’ve seen three of them. I’ve seen McKayla Maroney, I’ve seen Kyla Ross, and I’ve seen Brenna Dowell’s. And everyone showing some new skills. So Brenna, we’re seeing her Amanar, which was pretty impressive. What did you guys think for her Amanar?
BLYTHE: Oh yeah, extremely impressive
JESSICA: She looks so buff, like she just looks insanely strong right now. She looks amazing.
UNCLE TIM: And what about her full twisting double layout?
JESSICA: It’s decent, it’s good. I mean it’s not perfection, but compared to the other two who are doing it right now, which would be gymternet sensation and cat lover Victoria Moors and Skinner, I think it actually looks from the angle we saw, which was not to the side, I think it looks really good. So I think it actually could look better than either of theirs right now.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I will always have a special place in my heart for double layout, especially a nice tight arched double layout. I think it just looks prettier than most full twisting double layouts. And I think her double layout looks prettier than her full twisting double layout. The full twisting double layout ends up getting piked down a little bit.
UNCLE TIM: But it’s more difficulty and it’s a skill that very few can do. So good for her. And what did you guys think of McKayla Maroney? FIrst kind of footage of her really doing gymnastics skills.
BLYTHE: Wow. Just kind of wow. It appears that she will be able to do an Amanar when she’s like 50.
BLYTHE: And you just watch the one that they got at the Ranch and the block as always, just amazing. She might even be getting just a little bit more height than she did in the past. And just phenomenal. It is so hard to fathom that so many members of the Olympic team could be back in the gym less than a year out from winning that Olympic gold medal and looking this good. So it bodes fantastically for the US team.
JESSICA: And it just goes to show what a good job they all did of staying in good shape and good condition. Doing their strength and conditioning training while they were enjoying themselves and enjoying all the benefits they had after the Olympics too. You can really tell like no one’s come back and instantly gotten injured, which is what normally happens when someone thinks, “Oh I can do this all my life.” So I’m just totally impressed with them. They look amazing. And Kyla Ross, ah! Of course she didn’t take any kind of break, but oh my god her new series on beam, even though it was on the low beam but clearly she could do it on a high beam immediately, aerial layout, ah! It’s so gorgeous! I think that’s one of the most beautiful series ever. And it’s not like she’s the first ever to do it, but she does it so nicely.
UNCLE TIM: Yeah I would think that it’s good to see somebody doing actual connections. We’ll get to Jordyn Wieber in a second, but she’s still doing kind of the fake beam connections. And Kyla’s actually doing a series that is really a series that you can’t really fake it. So. That was good. And to go back to Maroney, I am going to nickname her the Harry Houdini of USA Gymnastics, because I don’t know how she did any of that. And she’s doing a double layout on floor and an arabian double front. Granted the double layout had quite a big spot. But that said, still impressive that she was able to do that. And I think that maybe the time off gave her a little more- let her body mature a little bit more. I think around the Olympics she looked a little frail, and now she’s looking stronger. It’s kind of like when Shannon Miller grew after 92 I think.
UNCLE TIM: I think her strength, her new body will be an asset to her. And elsewhere in the gymternet we are seeing more and more videos of Jordyn Wieber, who is also on the comeback trail. Jess could you tell us a little bit about the Gymnastike series and the collaboration between Chris Saccullo and the Triple Twist Gym Blog?
JESSICA: Well I really love, I mean I love any series because I could just watch gymnastics all day. So I’m thrilled that there’s two out right now. And I think it’s fabulous to watch this comeback process and the very beginning. I will say the Gymnastike series is more kind of a Geddert’s interpretation of Jordyn’s comeback. There’s more concentration on him and showing his interaction with the kids and his coaching style and more interviews with him. While the Triple Twist Gym Blog and Chris Saccullo documentary is more focused on Jordyn I would say. And I think that the Triple Twist Gym Blog people went to Geddert’s Twistars, so that might be- that’s my interpretation because she said that she went there. So I’m interpreting she went there and did gymnastics instead of went there like I showed up and did this filming. Because there’s seems to be more of a casual interaction with her and Jordyn. It seems like they might know each other. Or she’s a really great documentary maker because it comes across like she’s very familiar and comfortable. So I really enjoy kind of the interaction from Jordyn in that respect. But I think- we’re not learning a lot that’s new. But it’s just fun to watch workout and see what they’re doing and see the personalities. The only new skills really, Jordyn’s trying to learn the Shaposh half. You see her try and try and try and try on that. And then we see her doing a double double, we see a little bit of her new floor routine, and we see her doing a double turn into a single turn on beam. Single back turn, and also working on a Yang Bo jump. It looked like a Yang Bo to me, not a double stag, but a Yang Bo. Is that what it was?
UNCLE TIM: I think so. I can’t remember. I remember watching it but thinking, “I don’t know if that’s the jump for her.” Like Shawn Johnson trying to do a sheep jump during her comeback.
JESSICA: Yeah. But yeah in general she looks great. What did you think?
UNCLE TIM: I enjoyed listening to the interviews. As you said they’re mostly with John Geddert. The Gymnastike one, during the Gymnastike one he talks a little bit about how Jordyn needed some downtime and as someone who thinks more about male gymnastics, I think that that’s something Danell Leyva could’ve used. And maybe Yin Alvarez could have given him some more time. But who knows. That’s just my interpretation as an outside person. I mean you also have to give John Geddert credit because he is not afraid to take jabs at people. For instance, he also said, “If Jordyn’s going to come back, I didn’t want it to be a publicity thing.” He’s like, “We’ve seen that before!”
UNCLE TIM: You know, taking jabs at certain elite gymnasts. But from our perspective as viewers, I really do appreciate these documentary series if you can call it that, just because they do show some of the more mortal sides of the gymnasts, them struggling like Jordyn trying to catch her Shaposh half. And to compare it to for instance the Camp videos from USA Gymnastics, of course USA Gymnastics is only going to put out the polished, best skills. So you know, somebody could’ve fallen on every single Amanar, but they landed one so that one’s the one that goes on the internet. And here we get to see the process a little bit more. And I like that, as someone who has coached and as someone who has done gymnastics before.
JESSICA: Yeah USA Gymnastics definitely puts out the videos that are like, “Did you see that? Yes. That is how we will dominate you and the world with our vaults.” So yeah we definitely see something totally different, that’s a good point. Speaking of Gymnastike, I just wanted to mention that they, you know they’ve come under a lot of criticism for not being really forthright about what you’re paying for when you actually sign up. It was a little bit vague in the past and I think in the past you’ve had to sign up before you put in the credit card number and actually see the price, and that’s still true. But what they have done differently, and I think they’re definitely answering some of the critics, is that they have put out their series, their summer series. So they actually have a schedule with the dates of what series you’re going to get. So what Beyond the Routine is really going to mean. So they’re going to have Simone Biles, it’ll only be one episode. They’re going to do Liang Chow Behind the Routines, that’ll be three episodes. And I like that they’re- oh and they’re also going to do two live meets which is really exciting. So the meet in Portugal that’s coming up at the end of this month, we have a lot of men going to that meet. That’s super exciting. Sam Mikulak talked about he’s doing to that meet. Eddie Penev is going. Of course it’s fine, I know, he’s going, that’s great. I still think that Stacey Ervin should go but whatever that’s fine. He’ll just get more polished and be more fantastic and whatever. Ok. So, no I wish him the best of luck. But anyway they’re going to be live broadcasting that meet, which is super exciting. And I think it’s also great to see that they are putting- I mean I would hope what they’ve been doing with our subscription money when you sign up is that they have been buying the licensing rights to these meets, and that’s a great thing to see. They’re also going to broadcast the Osijek World Cup later this summer. So that’s exciting to see. And I like that there’s more disclosure. So you actually know for the next three months, this is specifically what you are paying for. And it’s not Beyond the Routine and there’s only one episode. You know if it’s three episodes or one episode. So I appreciate that. Now what we really need Gymnastike and other people to license is more about rhythmic gymnastics. Because basically they’re like, that sport is the Real Housewives of the gymnastics world. So Blythe, what is going on with rhythmic gymnastics this week?
BLYTHE: There’s no drama in gymnastics like rhythmic gymnastics drama. And the big news, and again it’s unconfirmed, it comes out of Russia, is about Vladimir Putin and Alina Kabaeva, the 2004 Olympic champion in rhythmic gymnastics and the bronze medalist from the 2000 Olympic Games. You know and Kabaeva, what she was known for as a rhythmic gymnast, was for being super flexible. I always thought even amongst rhythmic gymnasts she was surprisingly flexible.
UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]
BLYTHE: And for being smiley. She smiled during her routines. And it was, I mean she was always smiling, no matter what she was doing. Anyway. Kabaeva retired after 2004 and she joined the Russian Duma, which is the lower house of the Russian Parliament I believe at the same time as Svetlana Khorkina did. And it was kind of a circus sort of stunt in Russian politics. And I guess if you follow gymnastics you kind of have a laugh about it. But then after that, and this was about, this must have been five years ago, there were just some rumors came out. A newspaper called the, I guess it translates into “The Moscow Correspondent” published an article that said that Putin and Kabaeva were having an affair. And I believe the newspaper actually was shut down about three days after that article was printed. And since then, there has been this kind of you know well, “are they or aren’t they?” And it has never really lapsed. There have been stories that Kabaeva had a baby boy, although she’s never confirmed it. And there are stories that no, she said she hasn’t had any child and she knows she and Putin, it’s not on. And now of course this week comes this news that Putin and his wife Ludmilla are going to divorce. Well, ok. And so there is some thought that maybe Putin is going to bring Kabaeva into the spotlight. That is if they are together. And I don’t know, it’s very mysterious. It’s very clandestine. Maybe there’s nothing happening.
JESSICA: From what we know about Putin and how he- the fact that that newspaper shut down three days after that story came out means that it’s 100%. Because as we know, Putin is responsible for…
JESSICA: I’m editing this to add the word “allegedly.” It’s all alleged, but I will put a link up on our site so you can read about it yourself. There were three people, but it’s all allegedly, nothing, no direct evidence, alleged. But if I get a radioactive something in the mail, you guys will know who it came from. That’s all I’m saying. Allegedly. Here we go.
JESSICA: …journalist who came out with some news they didn’t want. They directly related poisoning the journalist with uranium or something awful. And so that would not- I mean I think that’s proof right there. That’s what I have to say about it. But of course there always have been rumors for years and years and years and this is totally urban legend, like Lil Kim style, that the rhythmic gymnasts of Russia have been sort of this- there have been a source of lovers for the parliament and the upper echelon of the Russian government and stuff like that. And I mean ugh, that’s just so disgusting. But this, I say, pfft. Clearly I think that’s definitely happening. In other news, there’s this whole giant investigation that the FIG is having and there’s like 56 judges involved.
BLYTHE: Yeah! You know, it’s very odd because what I love about this is how little information we’ve been given about whatever happened. We know that something happened and we know it’s bad. There was a judging course in Bucharest for rhythmic gymnasts, and apparently it all went wrong and the FIG has written press releases stating that, due to whatever happened in Bucharest, they are making an investigation and they are going to take measures and it all sounds very grave. But we don’t actually know what happened. And just the fact that they don’t specify what went down just kind of begs the imagination to go wild. I mean how much trouble could a bunch of rhythmic gymnastics judges get into in a course in Bucharest? Is there score fixing, pot smoking, inhaling furosemide. You just…
BLYTHE: So many possibilities.
JESSICA: Inhaling furosemide! [LAUGHS] That’s the best thing ever! Oh my gosh!
JESSICA: That was awesome. Ok so go ahead and finish your sentence there. Sorry.
BLYTHE: So all we know is that something happened and we don’t know what happened. So more details forthcoming certainly.
JESSICA: Oh rhythmic gymnastics, you give us so much to speculate about.
UNCLE TIM: This week’s interview with Maddy Curley and Brooke Buffington is brought to you by TumblTrak. At the end of my gymnastics career, I suffered a third degree ankle sprain while I was taking off for a 2.5 on floor. When I went to the doctor, he looked at my ankle and said, “Son, you should have broken it. It would heal faster.” And since then, I’ve spent a lot of time strengthening my ankles. Luckily, TumblTrak is making my life easier. Because thanks to their balance discs, I can now do a lot of my ankle exercises from the comfort of my own home. During TV commercials, instead of reaching for the chips and guacamole, I get out my balance discs and stand on one foot. At first, my friends and family thought it was a little strange, but now they want to use it during commercials too. But I think I know what I’ll be buying them for National Gymnastics Day next year. Anyway, for more information about balance discs and other TumblTrak products, head over to the TumblTrak website tumbltrak.com. That’s tumbltrak.com.
BLYTHE: You know Maddy Curley as Mina Hoyt in Stick It, the most well known gymnastics movie of the past decade. Maddy and writing partner Brooke Buffington, who were teammates at the University of North Carolina, have recently launched a Kickstarter site for a new movie project about gymnastics called Chalk It Up. And what started off as kind of a follow up to Stick It, they tell us, has evolved into something completely different. Brooke and Maddy, thank you so much for joining us today. Actually, the first question does kind of go to Maddy. We are all very interested to hear what your life has been like since Stick It. Can you give us an update on what you’ve been doing since and how you came to be working on Chalk It Up?
MADDY: Yeah I’ve been doing probably a lot more TV than film. I did do a couple of films last year that were both independent features. And I’ve just been working around the film circuit trying to get into film festivals and stuff like that. And TV, Cold Case, CSI, The Office, those kinds of shows. And then Brooke and I have been writing ever since Stick It. That’s kind of when we first decided to start writing was right after that movie ended. I wasn’t getting auditions that I loved and I was like well we should just write our own thing. And so we started doing that.
BLYTHE: And was gymnastics always what you guys wanted to write about or have you done other things as well?
MADDY: Oh no we’ve done a lot of other things. Gymnastics was just the first thing because I was like we could write Stick It 2 and make that so easily. But it was funny because at the time, Disney wasn’t willing to give up the rights to Stick It 2. I mean we haven’t actually checked in now if that would be a thing that they would do. But we were like well, then we won’t make a Stick It 2. We’ll call it Chalk It Up and made it a different title so that it wasn’t related and changed all the characters so that it wasn’t just a sequel anymore.
BROOKE: And gymnastics is how we met and it’s always been a passion for both of us. It’s just what brought us together.
BLYTHE: I see. And can you tell us about the process of taking sort of the groundwork that was laid in Stick It and making it something new for Chalk It Up? What did you guys go through and how long have these ideas been brewing?
MADDY: Well originally right after Stick It, we just made it kind of like a straight up sequel, and as time went on, we wanted to change it more. It was really campy. At the time, audiences were really enjoying very campy movies, kind of like Dumb and Dumber type of movie. And as time has progressed and we’ve done multiple rewrites, it’s become a lot more like I don’t know. Movies of today, the comedies of today which are less slapstick and campy and have a lot more drama and kind of meat to them. So now that’s why it’s more about a girl that’s coming back into this world of gymnastics and trying to create a team, which like obviously as she creates the team, there’s a lot of…..we both love physical comedy and slapstick kind of thing. So there’s still a lot of that within creating this movie.
BLYTHE: Speaking of the physical comedy part, and you’re right, there’s so much you can do with gymnastics. From watching the trailer you guys put out, my favorite moment would have to be Jenny Hansen crotching the beam.
MADDY: Oh yeah. And all those girls had such a good time with that. I was like basically I’m bringing you guys on just to fall a lot. And I didn’t have to give them any direction at all. They were just like great we can do that. How about this? How about this? And they just fell all over the place. It’s every gymnast’s dream to be sloppy and terrible and they were so good at it and none of them got hurt. It was great.
BLYTHE: Now this is going to be a movie that pertains somewhat to college gymnastics as distinguished from the elite scene perhaps.
MADDY: Well yes. There is going to be the college gymnastics. At one point, you do see her go back to the elite world which is even funnier. Because at first, she’s with all the college girls and still feels out of place creating and then she goes back into the elite world and the girls are so young. They’re like losing teeth and like trying on their first bras and stuff. So you get elements of both in this world actually which makes it fun.
BLYTHE: That’s really nice! We would like to see that. Did the experiences that you had at North Carolina as a collegiate gymnast, did that influence you in the writing of this at all?
MADDY: Absolutely! That’s one of the greatest parts of it. Both Brooke and I both loved college gymnastics. At least for me, it was one of the happiest times of my gymnastics career just because, I don’t know. It seems like the pressure was off. It was all about your team. It was no longer just an individual sport. And that’s one of the things we really play into the movie is how she’s not just working for herself. She’s working for her team and the rugby team. Because the only way that rugby team can exist is if that gymnastics team exists because of the whole play on the Title IX where you have to have equal men and women sports. And of course, we have the love story which is new. It was not in Stick It.
BLYTHE: Can you give us some more plot details, a little bit more than what we’ve seen in the trailer? We would love to know.
MADDY: Yeah so basically she has to create this misfit team and teaching them all about the sport. And there’s a lot of comedy that comes within teaching them about just college gymnastics in general and how hard it is to get to NCAA regionals and you to have a certain number of home meets and away meets. So there’s a lot of that that comes in. And there’s a rivalry. One of her old teammates from her elite world comes in and starts to kind of take over the team halfway through the movie. You see this girl return and she has to fight to be the team captain and this girl is taking over as team captain. It’s kind of like keeping your team with you as well. There are elements of that. There’s just a lot of focus on team really.
BLYTHE: Very nice! And one of the fun things we loved about Stick It was that we got to see so many gymnasts who we’d followed for years doing stunt work and things like that in the movie. Will that be the same way with this film as well?
MADDY: Well we would love it to be yeah. We’ve already to talked to Nastia Liukin and Danell and we’re seeing their interest level. Nastia we’ve been talking to for a long time. I mean probably an Olympic year has passed since then. Tara from the movie Stick It wants to be in it as well. A bunch of the college girls that I just met at the PGC tournament that IGC held where it was USA vs. The World, I don’t know if it’s already been on ESPN, but a bunch of those girls were like let us know. We want to be in it. Definitely, gymnasts love this kind of thing and there’s not many opportunities for them to get to be in movies so I hope that we could convince them to be in it.
BLYTHE: Definitely. And something to ask you both, you talk about how there’s not a lot of gymnastics in mainstream movies. Although there’s maybe a little bit more than there was 20 years ago, outside of films like American Anthem, how is gymnastics perceived in Hollywood? When you tell people you are an ex-gymnast, what do they say to you usually?
MADDY: Did you go to the Olympics? Or why didn’t you go to the Olympics? I feel like everyone that sees you as a good gymnast thinks that you should have been good enough to go to the Olympics. I have to explain to them that only seven and now like six or five people every four years get to go to the Olympics. It would be a 100 times easier to go to the NBA as a pro basketball player. And then once they realize the level that it takes to be an Olympian for gymnastics, they’re like oh that’s really hard. Yep but it’s nice. At least for me, I had a cool opportunity out in Hollywood. A lot of times, I’ve done my own stunt work. I remember on Cold Case, they actually got a stunt double for my co star but not for me and he was so put off by that. He wouldn’t let his stunt double work. We both did this fun fight scene together and the stunt coordinator just taught us. The guy that was there to be his stunt double was like that’s okay. I get paid either way so whatever you want to do.
BLYTHE: So in Make It or Break It, in previous movies, there’s been some sort of implausible storylines about gymnastics. As you said in Stick It, when the girls scratching and choose not to compete in the end and something like that, things that would never actually happen in gymnastics. But as a writer who’s portraying gymnastics to a large audience, how do you feel about those kinds of storylines?
BROOKE: It’s all Hollywood and it’s movies and now that we’ve written a script for ourselves, we definitely realize that there is artistic license that has to be used. So for example, our use of Title IX isn’t exactly correct because we had to make it work for the movie, but as far as gymnastics is concerned, we’re very serious about making sure that the gymnastics is portrayed correctly. The one gift we have as former gymnasts is to make that right and we want to make sure we do a really good job. But we understand where they’re coming from and sometimes it isn’t portrayed quite like it is in the real world.
BLYTHE: Yes. So do you think it’s possible to make a realistic gymnastics film?
MADDY: Yeah definitely. I definitely think it’s possible to make a realistic gymnastics film.
BROOKE: It’s finding the right story and the right characters and gymnastics is all that.
MADDY: I think ours will have so many elements of real gymnastics because we can’t help but write that because that’s been our whole lives since we were four years old. But I think also, I mean we have so much fun with the characters and the idea of creating the team and what it would be like. The one part that won’t be very realistic in our movie is that these girls are going to get really good really fast. And it’s going to be a lot shorter than it would take normal people to get good at gymnastics.
BLYTHE: So when you decided to make your character the coach, and a lot of ex gymnasts go into coaching of course, what is that going to do for her as a character? Is she going to have difficulty adjusting to the coaching world? Are you guys going to address that as well?
MADDY: Well the funny thing was she wasn’t originally written as the coach. We had her coached by Svetlana Khorkina and that morphed into a sort of Robin Williams-esque character that was a former firefighter that was coaching. And no one who ever read the script liked the coaches and so they wanted us to take them out. All of our producer friends and writer friends that read it. So we ended up making Hannah the coach. That definitely does play into it. As soon as she loses her team, she loses that position. Well actually she kind of gives up her team at one point too. She’s giving up both of those roles. Because it’s college and there’s not the pressure of the elite world, the coaching part of it just doesn’t play into it that much, it’s not that important.
BLYTHE: Understood. And how long did it take you guys to complete the script?
MADDY: Oh jeez. Well we’ve been working on it for six years. I mean it’s ongoing because every new producer you get that’s interested in it, wants you to write it a different way. And that’s true of the writing world in general. Every person I’ve ever talked to that has had their movie made is like well that’s not the movie I originally wrote but I liked it in the end. So that’s kind of what we’ve been going through. That’s one of the great things about if we do get to self finance this is we’ll have a lot of control over what the story is. And I think that would be one of the greatest things is if we could tell the story we truly wanted to tell on screen.
BLYTHE: Is it easier or harder to write a script knowing that you are going to be starring in it?
MADDY: Oh good question! I think it’s, well I’m sure it’s harder to be fair because there’s so many cool things I want to write for myself and that’s been an issue. We’ve written thrillers and love stories. We’ve written a lot of other things too. Sometimes it’s hard to be like no no we have to have a lot of the other characters have cool things happen too or screen time. I think for Chalk It Up, because it was kind of based off of the same idea as Stick It, it was kind of fun for me to write the other characters. I always want to play like three different ones. So I think for me, it will be just such a great ensemble movie that it’ll be fun to play in no matter what.
BLYTHE: Do you think you can do more with a film about college gymnastics than you could do with a movie about elite gymnastics?
BROOKE: I wouldn’t say more but it’s just something different for us to be able to show and portray because a lot of people don’t’ get to see the college gymnastics element. All they see is the Olympics and that’s what their focus and idea of what gymnastics is. So it was a lot of fun for us to be able to show this whole team element, these girls working together. A lot of people see gymnasts as individuals, as vault specialists, or bars specialists at the Olympics. When you see that team element in the team competition but this is a chance to show it in a more fun fashion. College gymnastics is a lot of fun.
MADDY: And I think that’s why we set it there in the first place is because both of us had a more enjoyable time as a college gymnast. I went elite for a year and it just seemed like everyone is a stranger to you and when you go to college, like even people you start to compete against, you start to know year after year and become friends with and get excited to see at a big tournament.
BLYTHE: Yeah it’s a totally different world. Now Maddy, you earned a BFA in theatre at North Carolina while at the same time competing for their team. And that seems like something that not a lot of gymnasts do, they don’t maybe go into theatre. How did you manage to balance your gymnastics life with doing theatre at the same time?
MADDY: Yeah not a lot of athletes in general do that. My coach, Derek Galvan was the greatest man in the world because I approached him and told him one of the things I really regretted that I hadn’t gotten to do in high school was theatre. He said well there’s no life after college gymnastics for gymnastics. I was like oh, kind of like this realization that my coach was giving me that you need to do whatever you want while you’re in college. And he gave me this permission. But it was tough because I basically went to school all day, went to gym 3-7 and then went straight to rehearsals from 7:30 to 11. So anytime I was doing a play, I was not getting much sleep. It was much much tougher. But it was always worth it. All my teammates would come to my performances. I don’t know. It was great. It was a really great experience.
BLYTHE: Very cool. And Brooke, can you tell us a little bit about your time as a gymnast and competing in the NCAA and how you came to be doing what you’re doing as well?
BROOKE: My time as a gymnast was fantastic. I came from South Carolina which is not a very dominant gymnastics state at the club level. And so to be able to compete at the collegiate level was an honor in itself. It was always my major goal. To be able to compete alongside a team of athletes like Maddy that are passionate and fun was just a dream come true. Maddy was a freshman my senior year and we just clicked right off the bat and have been best friends ever since. I actually now work in the athletic world. I work at the University of South Carolina as an advisor for student athletes so I still keep in touch with college athletics and work with student athletes now today.
BLYTHE: Did either of your ever waver about doing college gymnastics? Elite gymnastics can be exhausting and you know we know that there are some burnouts.
MADDY: I think that’s the really unique thing about us. I went through that with my teammates where they were all dropping out probably in middle school and high school and I just so badly did not want to. I really wanted to go to the Olympics obviously. And then when the time came for college gymnastics, there was no doubt in my mind. I threw away every brochure that didn’t have gymnastics in their program. And Brooke and I always joked that we convinced Derek to let us on the team because we weren’t his first choices and then we basically like harassed him until we were on the team. He’ll deny this to this day but this is true. We both wanted to be apart of it. That’s where the fun part comes to about creating this team and this movie. We’re asking people who have other sports to trade over to gymnastics. You’ll see that a ski jumper becomes one of their best people on floor and the diver who makes a mistake at some point and dives straight to her face and gets her braces caught in the floor. There’s some fun parts of combining these other athletes into the sport of gymnastics.
BLYTHE: And how involved in gymnastics are you guys today? Maybe you could give advice to the adult gymnasts out there about staying fit and maintaining skills and things like that?
MADDY: Well, strangely my world has crossed-over into Crossfit, which was started by a gymnast and they just love gymnasts. They’re very cool because it’s helped me to keep some of my gymnastics skills and it’s gotten me stronger and it gives me that place where I can still compete as an adult. And I also still go to gymnastics camps, which I swear is the only reason I can still do kips and giants and stuff. Because every year International Gymnastics Camp will bring me out, and there’s a small camp out in Myrtle Beach that brings me out. And then I just get to keep playing as an adult, which is fun because a lot of times things I wouldn’t think I could still do, I can. And then sometimes your mind is better than your actual body, and you figure that out very fast, too.
MADDY: But it’s great because I never thought I’d still – If I told my 15 year-old self I would still be doing the sport at this age, she would have been like, “No you won’t! That’s impossible!” It’s really great, because it is possible.
UNCLE TIM: Alright, well I have a lot of the questions kind of related to other movies, and how you guys see your movie fitting into the long line of gymnastics movies. So, the first question I have is over the years there have been several gymnastics movies like Nadia, American Anthem, Stick It, among others. And I was curious which one was your favorite and why?
MADDY: Oh, I feel biased. Mine’s definitely Stick It, but that’s because I got to be in it! [LAUGHS]
BROOKE: But when I was little American Anthem was a big movie, and Nadia was, too. And secretly I really liked the Footloose [inaudible] where he does gymnastics in the warehouse. Even though it’s not a gymnastics movie, it was one of my favorites growing up because I could relate to it.
MADDY: Yeah, and ironically Bring It On was always one of my favorite movies [inaudible] all based around a gymnast trading over to the lesser world of cheerleading.
UNCLE TIM: I’m that there will be some of that going on with your new gymnast. You mentioned the diver, what other sports will be crossing-over? Will there be any basketball players or anything becoming gymnasts?
BROOKE: Um, [inaudible] be realistic, but we definitely picked some sports that are going to be a lot of fun to see.
MADDY: We even have like a Cirque Du Soleil performer.
BROOKE: We have a Cirque Du Soleil acrobat. We have a gymnast who’s gone rhythmic and we’re trying to pull her back.
MADDY: Yeah. She doesn’t want to go back to artistic gymnastics because she now loves the ribbons and rhythmic gymnastics. But she’s terrible at rhythmic, so she has to give it up.
UNCLE TIM: Nice. And the beautiful costumes, the lovely leotards there in rhythmic.
UNCLE TIM: And how are you guys going to deal with the tension between gymnastics and cheerleading? Because she is – your lead character is a Harvard Cheerleader. Should we expect anything there?
MADDY: Yes, for sure. So, her best friend and roommate is a girl named Apple, who everyone is gonna love because she’s just totally the kookiest, most hilarious character, and she’s a cheerleader. So, Hannah goes to great lengths to get her out of cheerleading, but Apple absolutely insists that she must wear her uniform in-between every event. [Inaudible] constantly having them cheer [inaudible] and she cheers for her every time she [inaudible]. So you’re going to have this wonderful cheerleader alongside the whole time, and you’re going to see Hannah, the lead, just cracking jokes about it the whole time and making fun of that world for sure. But it’s going to be such a fun play that – I mean gymnasts and cheerleaders secretly love each other, we all know it.
MADDY: So, there’s going to be that play for sure.
UNCLE TIM: In previous gymnastics movies, American Anthem and Stick It, the female lead usually ends up choosing some interesting floor music, alternative floor music, as a way of kind of saying, “F you” to the world. Will we be seeing any of that in the movie?
MADDY: Well, the funny thing is I can tell you an inside story about Stick It actually, they wanted a different song. They wanted an Aerosmith song but it was going to cost a million dollars to get, so they couldn’t afford to get that song. And that’s why they ended up choosing the other song they did in the movie. But ours doesn’t actually even center around a floor routine, ironically. The big moment at the end isn’t on floor. So, no.
UNCLE TIM: Oh. And will there be any autobiographical bits in the movies? Story lines that came from your own life or maybe stories loosely based on stories you’ve heard over the years?
MADDY: Yeah, for sure. There’s so many. I mean even when I was just telling Jessica about the girl that dived right into the floor, that’s an actual true story. A girl did a do a double back straight to her face and got her braces caught in the floor. And when the story was told, it was just told in such a funny manner I was like, “That has to be shown on screen!”
MADDY: And like they literally snipped her braces full of just blue floor off of the event!
UNCLE TIM: Wow. Yeah.
BROOKE: Bad accidents in gymnastics are the ones we put on screen.
MADDY: Yeah. Ones that we wouldn’t necessarily want to know, put them on screen!
UNCLE TIM: Nice. Well I look forward to seeing a girl get her braces stuck in the floor, as awkward as that sounds. Do you have any tips for young writers or young actors out there? Both of you seem to have a lot of experience, so young gymnasts, actors, or writers.
MADDY: Yeah, the biggest thing is patience. It’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint, so the good thing about gymnasts is that they have such drive and determination. A lot of us are type-A and we want to structure things in a very specific way. So that gives us the tools to kind of break into the world in the right way. But then the hard part is you don’t get to control everything. So it’s just a matter of continuing and never giving up. And I think you have to help each other, yeah. That’s one of the biggest things that I’ve found, is like people will help you in the industry and they’re going to be your biggest assets, your friends. And they talk about nepotism all the time and it’s really true. Your friends and family are going to keep you moving in the right direction. And you need a good support system because it’s not easy. Writing and acting are hard, hard worlds, but luckily gymnasts are used to working hard every single day of their life.
BROOKE: What I say to Maddy is you can’t meet a gymnast you don’t like. One of the things we learned is gymnasts like to help gymnasts. We’re instantly friends with each other, we share that common bond. So that’s a big part of it.
MADDY: Yeah, I remember the first time meeting Dominique Moceanu as an adult, I went up and asked for a picture and then she asked for one because she had seen me in Stick It. So that was a really cool moment because she’d always been an idol of mine and then she loved the movie. She was like, “You’re on the movies!” And it was this great moment where two gymnasts were bonding. And she’s been a big supporter of Chalk It Up already, her and her husband.
UNCLE TIM: To conclude, can you tell our listeners where they can follow the progress of the movie, and where they can donate?
MADDY: Yes, if they Google Kickstarter Chalk It Up, ours will be the first one that comes up. It’s called “The Next Great Gymnastics Movie – Chalk It Up!” and they can donate there. You do have to make an Amazon account in order to donate, but honestly it’s so worth it to us. If every little gymnast out there just does at least $10 we can get the movie funded and made this year, and then you guys will have a great gymnastics movie to watch next year.
BROOKE: And you can follow the progress on Facebook Chalk It Up Movie, is our site. And so we’ll do updates on that and our Kickstarter page.
JESSICA: Thank you so much for doing the interview, and thank you for all of the hard work you have put into creating this movie!
BROOKE: Thank you!
MADDY: Thanks for getting the word out, that’s what we need. Hopefully we’ll be talking soon and telling you that we made it!
JESSICA: Yes! Okay good luck! You’re going to do it!
JESSICA: We’re going to get to listener feedback, and we have a gymline question I’m so excited to answer. So first we asked for you feedback last week, so Uncle Tim can you tell people about the survey?
UNCLE TIM: Sure. Um, we just created a little survey on our site, very basic questions. You know, what did you like about the Pro Gymnastics Challenge, what didn’t you like, those kinds of questions. It’s on our website and if you could take three minutes to fill that out we’d greatly appreciate it. We’re going to use the responses to compile a report for the people who ran the Pro Gymnastics Challenge, and we wanted to give them your feedback. And Jess, in one of our previous shows we talked a little about grandmothers or something, and I think you have an apology that you’d like to issue to all grandmothers in the world. What is it?
JESSICA: Yes. Well, basically like a couple times we’ve had people on the show and they have used the example of a grandmother to illustrate the most ignorant person in the country. And I just feel terrible about this. I feel horrible. I feel like I should now stop anytime anyone’s on that says, “Even a grandmother in Wichita” or “Even a grandmother can understand”. I just, I’m going to have to have a beeper or something that goes off. So I just want to apologize to all grandmothers, all women. And this is a stereotype that we are going to change. We are going to take it on on this show, and we are going to change it! Speaking of change, the triple twisting Yurchenko is soon to make its debut. We don’t know who’s going to do it, and we don’t know when, but we know people are planning it, so it could happen this summer or at Worlds. And Blythe, someone made an interesting suggestion. What did they ask for?
BLYTHE: Okay, well there’s a lot of speculation, as you said, about who is going to be the first person to do a triple twisting Yurchenko. A few people have copped to training it, a few people have gone even farther and said, “Yes, I want to do it”. And the big question is what is it going to be worth in the Code of Points. So what we propose for you guys is a guessing game, basically. Assign a value to the triple twisting Yurchenko and let us know what you think it’s going to be. Will it be a 6.5 the way the Amanar was during the last quad? Will it be something higher? As a baseline, now this is during the 2008-2012 Code of Points, the Amanar was rated a 6.5 and the handspring double front, the Produnova, was a 7.1. So, you guys decide what you think that value should be, that D score, and let us know.
JESSICA: I love this idea. I can’t wait to see what people come up with and what it actually becomes valued at. Speaking of which, there is a gymnastics Wikipedia. And I’m so excited about it because it has gifs, so that means you can look at the skill and then see the skill right next to it. You don’t have to watch a whole montage on YouTube, which are also great. I love those, too. But I love that there’s just a quick little gif on there. And I just want to so that, of course, my pronunciation and Uncle Tim’s pronunciation of gif are both correct.
JESSICA: I just want to state that for the record! Because the creator of GIFs came out and said that it is a hard ‘g’, and that it should be JIFF. But if you don’t know that it’s also correct just the way that it’s written to pronounce it as JIFF, just like other words you can pronounce to-MAY-to/to-MAH-to. So I would just like to put that out for the record, that you may say it the way you want, even though the inventor wants it to be JIFF, but I protest it because I don’t care for saying it that way. That’s our final word on GIFF/JIFF. As you know we are very upfront about our corrections, we don’t try to bury our mistakes. We got our countries confused, we said that Do Thi Ngan Thuong was from Vietnam, no we said she was from Thailand and she is from Vietnam, not Thailand. If she was from Thailand it would be an even bigger deal that she’s doing that crazy vault, but she is from Vietnam. So, hats off to her and we apologize for that. Now let’s get to our gymline question. I’m so excited about this. You guys know that you can email us or call us at 415-800-3191 or on Skype at GymCasticPodcast and leave a gymline question for us. This question comes from Yuka, and she says, “I think I’ve heard you mention that you coach. I’m feeling the itch to coach, but haven’t been involved in the sport for a long time except as a spectator. I’m not about to drop my day job, but I just want to explore this. I’d love to hear what you’d suggest based on your experience. What are gym owners looking for? What is a good way to tell whether or not a gym is a solid place for coaches and athletes?” So Uncle Tim, let’s start with you. What is your advice?
UNCLE TIM: Um, to answer the second question regarding whether the gym is a solid place or not for coaches and athletes, I think one thing you should look for is that they follow OSHA precautions, they do bloodborne pathogens and stuff. It sounds like a really basic thing, but I’ve been in some gyms where they don’t really take care of blood and that kind of stuff. So, that’s one thing in terms of safety. Also, I’d look to see if the gym is following the USA Gymnastics certification program regarding safety, etc. I’d look into that too, because I think that it’s important that the gyms are doing the certification. So, those are two suggestions for that question. What about you Blythe, do you have any suggestions?
BLYTHE: You know, I think that what you’ve said is absolutely great, but I wouldn’t mind if I were a parent and looking for a gym, or as a prospective coach also, I would go and observe. You know, just sit in the waiting area and see how the workouts progress. Look what the coaches are doing, see if the kids are happy, see if you kind of feel that they are safe and that they are moving safely through their workouts, they’re not trying things that are too hard for them or being pushed to try things that are too hard for them. I think the expressions on faces tell you a lot.
JESSICA: I totally agree, go somewhere and sit in the area and just observe before anyone knows why you’re there, anyone knows who you are and just anonymously observe what’s going on. The other thing that I think is really important is make sure it’s a gym that follows a schedule. This seems like a really basic thing, right, a rotation schedule? That kind of overarching organization makes a huge gymnast in the happiness of the gymnasts and the happiness of the coaches. If you have a place you’re coaching and a kid never gets on trampoline after a month, they’re going to quit and you’re going to have high turnover. Make sure they have something basic, that you know what rotation you’re going to be on, the coaches know where they’re going, kids are getting to go on all the events. And besides all the other safety stuff, I would find a coach your think is doing an amazing job, and after you’ve observed and you’ve seen what place looks safe, the kids look happy, there isn’t a huge turnover rate in the coaches, see if you can find someone to mentor you. Tell them that you’re interested and you want to start at the beginning and learn to teach great, beautiful basics and see if you can find someone who will be a mentor. A lot of people are flattered by that and they love to pass on their knowledge to someone else. So, that’s our advice, thank you so much for your question! Alright, so this month the gym nerd challenge, we’re so excited about this you guys. So, we had Maddy and Brooke on the show and of course they have this movie going on and they’re trying to find it themselves. They have this Kickstarter site, and Kickstarter is basically a way for people to put an idea out and ask people to fund their idea, and you get something in exchange. So, if you donate $5 you get a Thank You, if you donate like $100 they’ll sign a copy of Stick It and send it to you, there’s different levels of being involved in the project. This is our gym nerd challenge for June, let’s help get this movie funded. Let’s help them get to their goal on Kickstarter. So a couple ways you can do that. Share the crap out of it. Put it on Facebook, put it on Twitter, print it out and put it on your coworker’s seats. Do what you have to do. Make people know this is going on, and it’s a great idea and you support it. Watch the trailer, its super funny. I just think what we need to do is try to get, even if it’s just $1 from people, try to get them up to their donation level. So one of the things we’re going to suggest is that you guys hold your very own personal, I mean you could have your whole gym do it too, or a group of friends, or your cross fit class could do it, but hold a cartwheel-a-thon or a handstand-a-thon of your own. So, go to your friends and say, “I’m going to hold a handstand against the wall, will you donate $1 for every 10 seconds I can hold it”, or “50 cents for every whatever I can hold it” And see if you can hold your own fundraiser. Say that you’ll take the cash and you will donate it to the Kickstarter campaign if they don’t want to bother going on the site and donating themselves, hold your own fundraiser. Say, “Will you guys donate 50 cents for every cartwheel I can do in 10 minutes” and get all of your friends together on your lunch break of after school and they’ll laugh at you as you get dizzy and fall down, and then collect their money and go donate it to the program. That’s what we’re going to do. And Brooke and Maddy are going to do this themselves, they’re going to post some pictures on their Facebook site. So, look forward to those and go check them out and then you can share your own fundraiser that you’re doing for them as well. So share what you guys are doing, share a picture, share a video, share an idea, share with us, post it on their Facebook page, let them know you’re helping out and we will get the next great gymnastics movie made!
ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. Elitesportzband.com. We’ve got your back.
JESSICA: Visit elitesportzband.com, that’s sports with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code gymcast.
UNCLE TIM: That’s going to do it for us this week. Remember that you can sho—Baahh!
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] Download the Stitcher app
UNCLE TIM: [In distorted voice] That’s going to do it for us this week. Remember that you can support the show by recommending the show to another person, especially a big gymnastics geek like us. You can rate us on iTunes or write a review on iTunes. Shop on our Amazon store, download the Stitcher app. And now there’s a donate button on the website.
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] Just hitch it up to your PayPal account.
JESSICA: Blythe, if you’re an outer space English robot, like the above, how can you contact us?
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] Well, I’ve got to tell you that there are three ways to contact GymCastic. Actually, there’s more than that but there’s three ways that are bullet pointed here, so that’s what made me think there were three ways only. As a matter of fact, you can type GymCastic@gmail.com, that’s an email. Or you can give us a call at 415-800-3191, or just type in GymCasticPodcast into Skype and the computer will be smart. And we also have Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Google+, which is new to me. As of today.
JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Blythe just found this out!
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] There’s plenty of ways to get into contact with us.
JESSICA: Thanks, Blythe.
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] [inaudible] write on our Facebook page, “How do I contact you”
UNCLE TIM: [In distorted voice] You can also use courier pigeon [inaudible]
JESSICA: And I want to let you guys know that you can find a transcript of our shows on the site, you can look at the show notes and check out the routines we’re talking about, and of course you can get the show emailed right to your inbox, just sign up on the webpage on the right hand side. [LAUGHS] For this week, that’s going to do it for us. I’m Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com
BLYTHE: [In distorted voice] I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner
UNCLE TIM: [In distorted voice] and I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym
JESSICA: We’ll see you guys next week!