Transcripts: Episodes 61-70

[expand title=”Episode 61: Katelyn Ohashi Clears The Air”]

BLYTHE: Myth number 2: Are you planning to keep competing elite or go down to level 10? Because that’s been the big internet rumor and I don’t know where it came from, but there it is.


KATELYN: I know. It’s so funny [LAUGHS] Everyone thinks they know what’s going on. But I don’t even really know what’s going on yet. I had a back injury at American Cup. And so I had to take a break from that.




JESSICA: A special bonus episode dedicated to the one and only Ms. Katelyn Ohashi. Happy Thanksgiving gymternet!


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 61 for Friday, November 22, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner


JESSICA: And this is the number 1 gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you the most fascinating personalities in gymnastics. Today we’re starting with a very special episode dedicated completely to an interview with Katelyn Ohashi. We talked about her note on Instagram that she put up a couple weeks ago and how she seemed a little POed at the people who thought they knew what was going on with her. So we invited her to clear the air and tell us what’s happening. So I’m so excited for you guys to hear this. She’s a lot of fun, this kid. Oh my gosh. Instagram and Keek don’t lie. If you love the show, please rate us or review us on iTunes. Recommend the show to someone. Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and we’re on Google+ as well and Instagram. We love hearing from you guys so please send us an email, tell us what you think of the show at Or you can leave us a voicemail, 415-800-3191. Or you can call us on Skype, it’s Gymcastic Podcast and leave us a voicemail. You guys we have this incredible incredible incredible team of transcribers who transcribe every single episode of this show. So you can go on our website, go to the archives page, and if you like to read instead of listen or you want to clarify something, if you’re in an argument with a friend yes she said this I told you, you can go to our archives page. And thank you so much to our amazing transcribers. A special happy Thanksgiving to them. I’m very very grateful for them and all the work they do for us. And what else do you I need to tell you guys. Next week we are on hiatus. We will be stuffing ourselves all next week and getting ready to do something amazing for you in December. Oh, also you can support the show by shopping on our Amazing store or you can donate directly if you would like. Hope you guys have a wonderful Thanksgiving week and safe travels to all. And I hope you enjoy this episode. Thanks for listening.




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BLYTHE: 2011 Junior US champion Katelyn Ohashi has been the subject of much gymternet speculation of late. After winning the American Cup in March in her senior international debut, Ohashi disappeared from the elite scene in order to have surgery and rehab old injuries. In her wake, there have been rumors and speculations. Is she retired? Will she be back? If so, when? Today, Katelyn has graciously accepted to answer some of these questions and clear the air. Ok well Katelyn, thank you very much for taking the time to do this today. And we hope that this is not going to be your prototypical interview. I’m not proposing to ask you how you got started in gymnastics or what age you were when you realized your true potential or anything like that. The fact is, you have an incredible internet following. And you’ve got really cool things going on online through Keek and and everybody reads them. And so what we propose to do actually at the moment is kind of a gymternet myth busters, Katelyn Ohashi edition, to start off with. Because there are a lot of things that are being written about you, and I know you haven’t responded to most of them. And so if I could just ask you a couple of like you know true/false or somewhere in the middle questions, and you could respond to that, we could just get an update on where you are and what your status is. Does that sound ok?




BLYTHE: Awesome. Alright myth number 1: are you still training at WOGA?


KATELYN: Yes I’m still at WOGA


BLYTHE: Myth number 2: Are you planning to keep competing elite or go down to level 10? Because that’s been the big internet rumor and I don’t know where it came from, but there it is.


KATELYN: I know. It’s so funny [LAUGHS] Everyone thinks they know what’s going on. But I don’t even really know what’s going on yet. I had a back injury at American Cup. And so I had to take a break from that. But I’ve been out for probably around six months healing that. And then I got my shoulder cleaned up from a labral tear. And then I just started coming back recently and the same symptoms on the other shoulder happened. So I’m going to take another break from that, hopefully no surgery, but I’m just going to heal it up and see if I can start again soon.


BLYTHE: I see. So it’s been an interesting year for you. You’ve had a few different issues here and there. Did you injure your back at American Cup or was it just a thing that was just sort of from training and then it kind of compounded?


KATELYN: It started really bothering me probably a week before. I mean I was so close I might as well finish it up and go and compete and then it’s just something I really needed to rest afterward.


BLYTHE: Yeah I understand. So are you still in the gym on a day to day basis or did you really take some time off and just try to heal and not move around too much?


KATELYN: I still came in to the gym most of the time. I mean I kind of got a break, so I got to go on vacations here and there. That was nice you know. Sort of like normal teenage life.


BLYTHE: So is Valeri still coaching you?


KATELYN: We thought that maybe it would be better if I went over to Laurent’s team. Just because Valeri’s so busy with the national team stuff, like for the junior national team or TOPs, whatever. So we thought it’d be better and easier if I went to Laurent’s team.


BLYTHE: That makes sense. And what’s it like working with Laurent?


KATELYN: He’s a really great coach as well. Like they have some different approaches to things, but they’re both probably equally as good coaches.


BLYTHE: Like different approaches how?


KATELYN: Maybe more Laurent sometimes is more patient. Just stuff. And like skill wise if something bothers me, he knows to lay off of it. I don’t really know if that makes sense [LAUGHS]. Just different.


BLYTHE: No that does make sense.




BLYTHE: And speaking of skills, you do some pretty hairy skills. Of all of the things that you do, what was the scariest for you to learn?


KATELYN: The scariest would probably be my full. Or no no no wait, that’s a lie. My ono and healy on bars. Those were terrifying. Actually they still are to be honest.




KATELYN: You know some days you have those off days. And it just feels like I will be crooked on one side and I try to push over to the other side and it just won’t go so I feel like I’m going to land on the bar. And I don’t know, stuff like that. I mean actually I have a couple times. [LAUGHS] One time I was doing a healy and I was really crooked and low and so I let go of the bar and I landed on my shins on the low bar. That was probably one of the most painful things [LAUGHS] I’ve done.




KATELYN: Yeah I’ll take splitting the beam over that any day. [LAUGHS]


BLYTHE: Good to know




BLYTHE: Alright so here’s another true or false for you: The Disney Channel offered you, Victoria Moors, and Simone Biles your own TV show. I read that online the other day. True or false?


KATELYN: Oh man how come I didn’t hear about this? [LAUGHS] Yeah false but I wish,


BLYTHE: Yeah we wish too actually. We think the three of you would be quite hilarious all together.


KATELYN: Yeah that would be awesome.


BLYTHE: Oh speaking of videos, this Keek video of you with the cookie monster pants. What’s the story behind that?


KATELYN: Actually Tori sent me this video of this girl on Keek who had these pants. So I decided to go out and buy them and kind of imitate her. Yeah that was pretty fun. I’m surprised I could keep a straight face that whole time, but I think I was trying so hard that I just [LAUGHS] managed to keep a straight face.


BLYTHE: Well we loved that video and we wouldn’t mind seeing more things like that.


KATELYN: Have you seen the one of me going into Walmart like that?


BLYTHE: Yes and that was actually the next question. The next rumor is that you were escorted out of a store by security for frightening shoppers while wearing those pants and running around.


KATELYN: Frightened some shoppers




BLYTHE: So are you still homeschooled or are you back in regular school with your break?


KATELYN: I decided to go to regular school this year since I won’t be going internationally so I won’t be missing as much school. But I just have three off campus PE periods, so I only go from 11:45 to 4:15. So I still get my double workouts in.


BLYTHE: And how do you like being in regular school after several years of being homeschooled?


KATELYN: Oh gosh, it’s so different. It’s actually at first I was really nervous about it because most of these people have already known each other forever. But I found friends and I guess I kind of fit in. I mean I kind of stand out because I look like I’m 5 compared to all these kids [LAUGHS]. I did see someone shorter than me though.


BLYTHE: Oh really? Also a gymnast?


KATELYN: I don’t think it was a gymnast but I don’t know. I had to tweet about it as soon as I saw her.


BLYTHE: And what do your friends think of your gymnastics career. The ones who aren’t involved with gymnastics themselves.


KATELYN: I think they think it’s cool. My friend apparently her and her mom looked me up on Wikipedia and they watch my YouTube videos.


BLYTHE: Alright. So here’s a question that you can- it’s sort of one of those college entrance exam questions. But we do ask it of all the elite gymnasts we talk to. And what we were hoping was that you could tell us something you learned from each gym you went to and each coach you worked with. And feel free to totally use this as SAT prep or for college application essay later on, something like that.


KATELYN: Ok. Well I think when I first started out gym and went to Gym East, I kind of learned my discipline and just the basic stuff. How to compete well under pressure as much as you can. And then when I went to Al they taught me probably they taught me a lot of respect and beam skills. Armine was really good beam coach. So I learned a lot of my beam there. And then Valeri at WOGA he’s more he helped me a lot on bars. Like I was kind of awful when I went to him, so that helped a lot. Yeah I don’t really know how to answer this question [LAUGHS]


BLYTHE: No it’s a good answer. And do you find gymnastics fun? Shawn Johnson for example she always emphasized gymnastics was a fun activity for her. Not that you use the word fun a little bit less, but she also talked about how rewarding it was so accomplish her goals. And so what’s your take on that? Do you think gymnastics, is it fun for you?


KATELYN: Yeah see [LAUGHS] I don’t know if I would classify it as fun. I mean it is, but it isn’t. It’s also a love/hate relationship. I think I always think about it like you know most people are like oh god you don’t have a life in gymnastics, but to be honest we really do. I wouldn’t have been to all the places I have been if it weren’t for gymnastics. And I think the rewards, those are a lot of fun. Like I mean having followers on Instagram like that [LAUGHS] I mean that’s kind of fun [LAUGHS].


BLYTHE: Yeah, yeah that definitely makes sense. And right now, who is in your training group at WOGA? Or else are you teammates with at the moment?


KATELYN: At this moment I have no idea actually. I mean I kind of just go on my own sort of, but Madison Kocian and Alyssa Baumann and Sarah Ogden. Kyra, I don’t really know her last name, but she’s from Russia. And Lauren Farley. Those are all younger elites from there that are coming up and they’re going to be, well they already are extremely amazing but they’re going to be up there.


BLYTHE: Yeah. Yeah. Excellent. And can you describe a typical workout for us? What do you go in and do on a daily basis?


KATELYN: I normally run on the treadmill sometimes. Or just around the gym. 15-30 minutes. And then I do stretch or warm up thing. Then I do conditioning for around an hour, 30 minutes. And then start events. Normally I like to start on bars because you don’t have to be as warmed up for that. Kind of gets you a little more warmed up. And then go to- depends on how much time we have left, maybe tumbling. And then that’s the end of practice. I mean [LAUGHS] and then we come back later that afternoon and we have a quick warm up and stretch and then we go to beam and do our routines. And then we go to whatever we have left. I’m surprised we don’t get more in in the 7 hours we’re there but it goes by fast.


BLYTHE: I can understand that. And so now that you’re in regular school, you’re going to high school, do you find it more tiring than if you were just doing some home school stuff and then are more able to be sort of more present in the gym and aren’t physically moving around between high school and gym?


KATELYN: Well I haven’t really got like my actual full workout that I normally do since I’ve been to school because of injuries. But I think it will be because normally I kind of like slack off and sometimes sleep if I was tired from school. But now I have to stay up later because of homework and stuff. So yeah I think it’ll be a little more challenging. But at least gymnasts are trained to have that kind of mental thinking [LAUGHS].


BLYTHE: Have you been able to use the I’m so sorry I’m a gymnast and I was at practice excuse with your teachers in high school yet?


KATELYN: Not yet. But I have missed a lot more than I probably should. But they were all excused because I’m either at the doctor, or on an unofficial.


BLYTHE: Speaking of that, how are those unofficial visits going?


KATELYN: I’ve only been to UCLA and I went up to OU this last weekend. They’re a lot of fun. I’m really interested in UCLA right now. That’s probably my number one school that I want to go to. So we’ll see where that goes.


BLYTHE: And so what is attractive to you about UCLA?


KATELYN: That it’s in California [LAUGHS]. That’s what I really like.


BLYTHE: That’s incredibly honest.




BLYTHE: You could get a Miss Val choreographed floor exercise. That would be cool.


KATELYN: Their routines are so good. There’s this one girl I need to- she’s going to teach me how to dance hopefully. She’s so good.


BLYTHE: So you have done some really cool traveling. South Africa, for the Bumboo Cup. And where else have you been?


KATELYN: I’ve been to Fono, Italy, actually a lot of places in Italy, like Fono, Venice, Rome, got to cross off going on a gondola on my bucket list.


BLYTHE: That’s great. What else is on your bucket list?


KATELYN: I want to go skydiving. And cliff jumping. And learn how to snowboard, surf, and skateboard. Those are my main ones. Oh and visit Greece.


BLYTHE: As far as skiing and snowboarding goes, is that something you’ve got to put on hold because I can’t imagine any high level gymnastics coach being like yeah go ahead and go skiing, don’t worry about your knee.


KATELYN: Right? Yeah. Probably put that on hold until after. Don’t want to mess anything up. That would be not good. Oh yeah so I just got snowboarding instead of doing gymnastics.


BLYTHE: Be like what?


KATELYN: If I go to UCLA, someone’s going to teach me how to surf there.


BLYTHE: You know if you go to UCLA, I bet you that they have classes. Like literally classes for credits on surfing. Like, Jess can you-


JESSICA: Oh totally. There’s high school surf teams here. All the high schools have surf teams.


KATELYN: That’s so cool.


BLYTHE: That’s amazing.


JESSICA: You will totally learn to surf. And of course everyone skateboards and there’s skateboard parks at the mall here. I don’t know if you have that in Texas but here you go the regular mall and part of it is a skateboard park.


KATELYN: Yeah we don’t have those. So cool though.


JESSICA: And then of course you know my other dream for you is that you will I mean I like to tell everybody what I think they should do with their lives [LAUGHS] so this is one of those things about me. And I keep thinking oh ok well Katelyn totally has to go to school in New York or Chicago or Hollywood because you have to be on Saturday Night Live someday. And so then to be in Saturday Night Live you have to go to be in the Groundlings or what’s the other thing called- First Second City I think. They’re like these comedy troupes and they’re only in Chicago and LA. So and that’s how everybody does those before they go on Saturday Night Live. So I don’t know if you’ve thought about a comedy career.


KATELYN: That’s so funny because when I went to UCLA Miss Val started dancing and she’s like come on guys you can’t be on my team if you’re not weird. I was like oh I’m weird. She goes, yeah I know, I heard you could have your own Saturday Night Live show. I was like that’s so cool. That would be so much fun.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Yes oh my god you would be hilarious. Standup comedy, Saturday Night Live. And you could be the first rapping Texas/Washington girl to be on Saturday Night Live.


KATELYN: [LAUGHS] I’m working on a new rap actually.


JESSICA: Yes! Oh my god I can’t wait to hear it.


KATELYN: Did you hear the one me and my friend wrote and we put it on YouTube?


JESSICA: No I only heard I think you were doing one that was like already a song and you were doing a cover, but I haven’t heard the original.


KATELYN: Oh so me and my friend just wrote this thing because we were both injured. So we didn’t have anything else to do during gym [LAUGHS]. So we decided to write a rap. It’s actually about food. I don’t think the coaches enjoyed that very much. But it’s just a joke. [LAUGHS] So we went to the store like actually a whole bunch of stores and we recorded it. And we have these big baggy sweatpants on. And yeah it looks like we eat a lot.




KATELYN: But it was a lot of fun. It took us so long to record though, like five hours because we kept laughing.


JESSICA: We can totally understand that from doing this show.


KATELYN: It’s called Food For Lyfe


BLYTHE: Ok if you were in charge of survival gear for training camps at the Ranch, what would you include for each gymnast?


KATELYN: Bug spray. Definitely. [LAUGHS] And maybe an umbrella. Maybe a towel from sweating so much.




KATELYN: Yeah. Yeah.


BLYTHE: Awesome. Do you have a competition in your head that you would like to attend if you know I know it’s kind of up in the air for you right now but a lot of people say a lot of the Olympic team has said I’d like to get back by Nationals next year. Do you have a target like that?


KATELYN: I mean I think that would be great if I could get back to compete Nationals next year. But I’m just going to take it step by step and see where it takes me.


JESSICA: Can we tell people what your back injury was? Is it something specific or would you rather not people don’t know?


KATELYN: It’s kind of hard to explain. Like I don’t really even know to be honest. I had to get a lot of second opinions and third opinions on it. And it’s just something with my spine. And it’s not stable and it is not irregular looking [LAUGHS]. It’s not straight but it’s not sideways. It’s like forward. I don’t even know how to describe it. [LAUGHS] People are probably trying to figure out what I’m saying.


BLYTHE: My last question for you is about the fanbase. You know you have such great fans and what’s your favorite thing a fan has done for you?


KATELYN: I love when they give me they send me stuff in the mail. Or fan mail. And actually I just got a minion a couple months ago because everyone knows that I kind of love them. Which I mean now I’m a little over them because I get so many[LAUGHS] minion things. But that was really sweet. And just all the support. That’s awesome.


BLYTHE: There’s a lot of people out there that really really appreciate your gymnastics and wish all the best in the future, no matter what it holds for you.


KATELYN: Yeah and I appreciate them.


JESSICA: Alright well thank you so much for doing this interview, this was so fun to talk to you.


BLYTHE: It was


JESSICA: We really really had fun talking to you.


KATELYN: Thank you so much I had a blast.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode was brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: If you enjoyed what you heard from the fabulous Ms. Katelyn Ohashi today, let her know on Instagram or Twitter or Keek or And tell her you enjoyed her interview. I’m sure she’d love hearing it. And we’ll be back after Thanksgiving. Have a wonderful holiday everybody. Thanks so much for listening.




BLYTHE: Oh when you first made the national team, what kind of swag did you get and who gets better swag, the juniors or the seniors?


KATELYN: Wait, what kind of what?


BLYTHE: What kind of swag do you get?




BLYTHE: Yeah swag. Like warm ups, key chains, I don’t know.


KATELYN: Oh oh like what kind of clothes?


BLYTHE: Yeah. Or what kind of stuff, gym bags-


KATELYN: [LAUGHS] Swag, dang I [inaudible]




[expand title=”Episode 62: Pavlova to Azerbaijan, Oleg (Finally!) in Stuttgart & The Mexican Open Extravaganza”]

JESSICA: This week, Pavlova to Azerbaijan, Oleg finally, how to play fantasy gymnastics, and the Mexican Open extravaganza.




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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 61 for December 4th, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JESSICA: This is the number 1 gymnastics podcast on the planet, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. Today, we are starting with the news that this episode will be all gymternet news and meet news. And then later this week, we’re going to bring you an episode that is just an interview. And we’re going to have Larry Nassar who is the team doctor for USA Gymnastics. Let me tell you I was tearing up during the interview with him. I was laughing with the interview with him. And I totally learned things that I never expected. I just- ugh. Is there- I don’t know what else to say about this interview. Uncle Tim can I sum it up some other way?


UNCLE TIM: It’s very in depth. And he tells things very honestly. And he’s a very caring man yet a very blunt man I would say. He’s an interesting guy, and I really enjoyed hearing everything he had to say because he filled in a lot of holes that were missing in my gymnastics history knowledge.


JESSICA: Yep. That’s a really good way to put it. So let’s talk about the Mexican Open. So this is the meet that is at the Fairmont which you know I’m in love with all Fairmont hotels. And it was in Acapulco. And Chuso, Bogi, and Podkopayeva have been Instagramming pictures of each other the entire week. So freaking adorable. It’s in this gorgeous location by the beach. They had a white party the night before, so everyone dresses in white and they did the little YouTube videos. And they had a little signing. And oh my god it looks so fun. They had live streaming coverage. They had Danell Leyva and Josh Dixon there. What else do you need? They have this crazy $10,000 prize leo, which actually was gorgeous. I have to say there was another one that they gave away, some I don’t remember what company it was but do you remember the other one was really funky looking? I didn’t like it.


UNCLE TIM: See I didn’t like this one either. I thought it looked like they had sewn together like four different Vanna White gowns. And I don’t know. Plus most of the lines were horizontal which makes you look wider, which is never a good thing on the women. But that said, you want to wear large prints to enhance your best assets. And where there were very large bold prints was around her chest area. So you know I guess that’s a good thing to kind of enhance- I don’t know. But in general I wasn’t a fan. Like I said it looked very hodgepodgey, pageant dressy.


JESSICA: Well I totally loved it, which I was shocked. I mean I was ready to just roll my eyes. They were prepared. They were halfway rolled when I was looking at the picture. And then I actually liked it. I was totally shocked. And a white leo, I mean she’s of course the perfect person to wear a white leo. She looks absolutely gorgeous in it. And I feel like it’s where the other one I thought just looked like glitter threw up across the leotard, this special whatever crystal it has some kind of crystals on it, I don’t understand why is Swarovski crystals- why is this a big deal? Is this just a company? This is the same stuff that your grandma’s crystal that you’re not supposed to- only use on Thanksgiving. Why would you want that on a leotard? I don’t- is it dangerous? Can you compete in it? Are there going to be injuries? You know that’s all I care about. Will it damage the beam? What if you do a back spin? WIll it tear the whole thing apart?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I think this is just for show I would guess. But. Yeah I think other people I know some people on our Facebook page were a little upset about the fact that it cost $10,000 and they thought the money should go to Ukrainian Gymnastics Federation instead of spending it on a leotard. What do you think about that idea Jess?


JESSICA: Well I mean I think the point of this is that it’s a way for- one thing first. Bogi and Nadia chose the gymnast who would win this. And of course so it doesn’t matter. They could give me a roll of toilet paper. If those two picked me for anything, I don’t care what the prize is. But back to the leo [LAUGHS]. I mean the thing is, you know you have to attract sponsors right? So how are you going to attract GK to do something right? And you want to say you know will you be a sponsor for this event and we’ll highlight you in some way. So how do you get people excited about their products and at the same time involve them blah blah blah. So I think this is a way for GK to show that they’re innovative and can do beautiful and interesting things and step it up. And I mean I’m assuming I mean this is going to bring a lot of attention to Ukrainian gymnastics. That’s what these prizes of elegance are for. They’re you know a way to involve the sponsor and bring attention to gymnasts who are maybe great at for marketing your materials. Even though they might not be the best gymnast, they’re someone you want to put in your ads. That’s how I always see these prize for elegance. So they could, this is good publicity for both Ukrainian gymnastics and for the sponsors, and that’s what you want. And maybe they’ll sell it. Maybe Ukrainian gymnastics can auction this off.


UNCLE TIM: I think the other thing we have to keep in mind is the $10,000 is probably the retail value and not necessarily how much GK actually spent on the production of the leotard. And so it’s not necessarily the idea that oh you know they just put $10,000 into making this leotard. They didn’t spend $10,000 making a leotard. That’s the retail price. And so I mean that’s something that people should keep in mind as well. But yeah I’d be all for her auctioning it off and giving some of the money to Ukrainian gymnastics or to her own training, whatever she decides to do.


JESSICA: Yeah. And I mean I think that the bigger thing about this meet is that whoever put this together is just extremely smart in terms of knowing how to market gymnastics and knowing what will get the athletes excited, what will get spectators excited to travel to a meet, and then what’ll get the sponsors excited. I mean you’ve got to pay for this kind of stuff and they did such a great job with all the different aspects of putting this together. I mean the athletes looked out of their minds [LAUGHS] they looked so happy. They looked like they were having the best time. And you know that’s so much fun for everybody. So hats off to everybody involved in that. You guys did an amazing job, except the one thing we’ll get to later of course. But let’s start with the results.


UNCLE TIM: Alright so there was a junior competition. On the women’s side, it was all about America. Coming in first was Bailey Key with a 56.901. Second was Laurie Hernandez with a 56.567. Then in third was Emily Gaskins who is a recent addition to the junior national team. And then fourth was Nica Hults. And then in fifth was Elena Martinez of Brazil. She ended up with the bronze medal because of the two per country rule. But she actually finished technically fifth overall. On the senior end of things, it was Roxana Popa who won with a 57.350. Coming in second was Maggie Nichols with a 57.3. Coming in third was Peyton Ernst with a 57.150. And she was definitely the gymternet favorite going into this meet, at least according to our gym nerd poll. But she had two falls, one on balance beam and one on floor, which had she not fallen twice, she would have won. And she would also have posted a score higher than Elizabeth Price’s score from Stuttgart which we’ll get to in a second. Then on the men’s side it was Jossimar Calivo Merino with a 90.5. Coming in second was Nikiti Ignatyev of Russia and then coming in third was Koji Uematsu of Japan with an 87.050. And so going back to Peyton, Jess, what do you think is going on with her? So earlier this year, she was at the Tokyo World Cup where she fell on beam. And then now at the Mexican Open, another international assignment, she fell on both beam and floor. What do you think is going on?

JESSICA: I just think she doesn’t look to me like she has the eye of the tiger. She doesn’t look like she has- she just looks like she’s questioning herself. She doesn’t look like- she has to have that look like I will not fall no matter what. Like they can shoot bullets at me during this routine and I will not fall off. She just looks happy to be there and she doesn’t look- she just doesn’t seem to have that fire in her yet. But I think she can get it. I think she totally can because I can see her just her confidence building I think as she goes on. So I mean that’s what I think it is. But I don’t know. Maybe she drank bad water and had an upset stomach. You never know.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I would say I mean in Tokyo she kind of looked like she was so nervous she could throw up. And this time she didn’t seem quite that nervous even though she did have two falls at this meet. But yeah. While we’re talking about falls, Jess inform us about this floor situation and what happened with Sabrina from Canada.


JESSICA: Ugh. Ugh. Alright. So you guys know the new Speith floors. They used them at the Universiade in Russia. They used them at- did they use them at Worlds?


UNCLE TIM: Worlds, yeah


JESSICA: Worlds, yeah. So it’s basically like the floor is it goes out further from the when you have the border, the white line, it goes out further and instead of sloping like the AAI floors so you can gently roll down onto the floor, it has the foam actually extends past the spring. So you have the springs then you have another eight inches, a foot or more, two feet of foam that are underneath the carpet. So if you fall, you’re not going to fall down, you’re falling at the same level. And the foam is supposed to extend all the way out to the edges of the carpet. So what it looked like, I mean you can clearly see this in all the videos unless the person who filmed this and put it on the- filmed it from their TV, thank you to that person on YouTube that did that. Unless their TV screen is warped or something, it looked from all these videos that the floor is on a hill. Like it looks like the floor actually bubbles in some places, like it actually goes uphill and downhill. And that so maybe the actual floor in the arena was had a slope to it. Or, then when on the sides of the mat it looked like the foam didn’t actually extend all the way to the edges as it should. It looked like the foam was supposed to be two feet wide and it was only a foot and a half. So when Sabrina Gil, she goes out of bounds, and then it looks like she takes a step and there’s nothing underneath her foot. There’s carpet but there’s nothing else there. So the carpet just pushes all the way down to the ground and she just slid right off the floor. And you can see Nadia was disgusted with the whole situation when they panned to her afterward. So I don’t know what was going on with the floor, but it looked like it was set up incorrectly. What did it look like to you?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah well I was just thinking more in terms of floor exercise in general. And how there’s very little margin for error as you said. This floor does extend a little bit farther, but even so there’s not that much space. So if you for whatever reason go a little too far on your 2.5 punch layout, you could be landing flat on a really hard surface without mats. And so I don’t know I wish that at meets, they would at least put a sting mat in the corners just in case gymnasts travel a little farther on the tumbling pass.


JESSICA: This totally makes me think of- remember was it the WOGA Classic or whatever when they used to have plants in the corners [LAUGHS] of the floor and they would have little trees. And I want to say it was Nastia but it couldn’t have been Nastia because that could never have happened to her, but somebody flew into the plant [LAUGHS] off the floor. The gymternet will remind me who this was. But the video was just so cute and so funny. And then thank god it wasn’t her head that went into the planter first. But then I have actually seen someone do a double pike and land on the basketball floor instead of on the mat. Just like everyone’s standing in the corner and she just took one extra step or she was I don’t know somehow she wasn’t estimating correctly. She was just too pumped up or whatever. And everybody in the corner was like all the sudden they looked up and like yelled and ran away and she landed completely off the mat onto the hardwood floor. And then finished the rest of her routine. I was like oh my god both of her ankles have got to be broken right now.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So moral of this story: put mats in the corner [LAUGHS] I don’t know. Yeah. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about the gala that happened. Last year Jess you weren’t a big fan of the gala.


JESSICA: Well you know how I feel about these gala things. They are just weird and they’re you know how I feel. They’re very Sabado Gigante. They’re not my cup of tea. But I think for the Mexican audience this is perfect. They love it. So go for it. If it works and they can sell a lot of tickets and people love it then more power to them. They know what sells there and they know what people like so I’m all for it. But, two things. Number one is that Peyton Ernst, I could not see her whole beam routine but she did this beautiful beam where she did some stuff on the floor then stuff on the beam. She did it in this white dress. Oh my god it was gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous. Secondly, two dudes, I’m pretty sure it was two different dudes, did gymnastics in capes. Now, capes and gymnastics. What did we learn from Edna in The Incredibles? Do you remember Uncle Tim?


UNCLE TIM: I have never seen the movie.




UNCLE TIM: I haven’t seen a lot of movies.


JESSICA: Oh my god first of all Edna is the greatest character ever created in an animated feature film. And she’s a fashion designer. And she says no capes darling, no capes. Do you know what happened? So basically they kill you. Capes kill you. They get pulled into the airplane wing. They’re very dangerous. You can’t be doing gymnastics with capes. This is a superhero rule and it is also a rule for gymnastics. But guys doing high bar with a cape on. Ok if it’s velcroed on. But what if it flips around and flips you in the face, you can’t see where you’re going. Or what if it wraps around your grip when you’re swinging around the bar. I mean it could choke you. I was just like ugh. I couldn’t even watch. I was horrified. We don’t do capes in gymnastics. There’s a reason for this. Unless it was a little tiny pretend cape that was only handkerchief side on the back of your neck, then maybe that would be ok. But you know [inaudible]. But the other thing was hilarious is that Jossimar and Chuso did a boxing match. And of course she wore her cut off daisy dukes, which she’s famous for always doing gala routines with daisy dukes on. I think it’s her signature. And I appreciate the effort to give the local crowd what they want. But no capes. [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: Thus says Jess


JESSICA: That’s right


UNCLE TIM: We’ll add that to the Jess code of points.


JESSICA: Yes that’s going into the rules. So let’s talk about Stuttgart. So from the American side Paul Ruggeri went. And he competed in there’s like a team challenge which is separate than the World Cup. So a bunch of the US guys went. And he actually tied for first in prelims on vault with a 15.1. So hats off to you. Orozco did not do bad. And his vault, he got a 14.8. And it was as I like to say improbably good. [LAUGHS] He punches actually on the part of the board that has springs, so that’s an improvement from what he’s done in the past. Actually punching on the right part. He totally bends his arms on the vault. But he got insane distance and stuck it. I was like how is he this is why they call him ninja. Because he should not have been able to do that. He breaks all laws of physics. So he really hasn’t changed his technique but somehow it worked. So.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah you’re just being really nice right now Jess.


JESSICA: Well yeah. Well I mean he should not be able to do that vault. Even if- that shouldn’t- there’s no- it should be terrible, but it’s better than it has been in the past.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I don’t know.


JESSICA: He landed up-


UNCLE TIM: I did a whole post about how bad that vault was last year. And I don’t really see too much improvement. He almost missed his right hand on the vaulting table while doing a front handspring. You are looking at the vaulting table the entire time. There is no excuse for going that crooked coming onto the table. Then it was almost- it was like a- I don’t know a lay-uck. It was a tucked layout. I don’t know.


JESSICA: Do you think he needs glasses?


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] I don’t know


JESSICA: I’m not trying to be mean! It’s [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I think that he can definitely do this vault a lot better, but it’s another one of those situations similar to MyKayla Skinner. He needs to go back to the basics and break down this vault from the start. Start just doing a front handspring front layout, and then slowly adding the twists. But yeah he needs to go back to the basics, and hopefully he’ll be able to do that over the next couple months between now and Winter Cup.


JESSICA: Wonder if he coach listened to this and were like yeah what do you think we’ve been doing for the past year and this is still what happens. Yeah I mean the vault, yeah it’s a mess. But it’s a-


UNCLE TIM: I mean he did a different vault at the US Nationals in, when was it, June or July. So he’s changed his vault since then.


JESSICA: And he did a front handspring 1.5?


UNCLE TIM: He did a kasumatsu 1.5. Well-


JESSICA: Oh that was supposed to be a kasumatsu?


UNCLE TIM: No. So at this meet, pardon.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Oh ok I was like wow it was way worse than I thought.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]. At US Nationals he did a kasumatsu vault. And this was a handspring double full is what he’s doing.




UNCLE TIM: Yeah. Yeah it was terrible. He totally, yeah. No.


JESSICA: But for him, you know. Ok we’ll agree to disagree. Let’s go on to the results. This is the most exciting thing I think has ever- did you weep? Did you throw a party? Did you run into the streets and scream? Did you- I mean what happened. Well we should say-


UNCLE TIM: What did I say I was going to do if Oleg won Worlds?


JESSICA: Set fire to a car?


UNCLE TIM: I was going to riot.


JESSICA: Riot yeah that’s what you do in riots.


UNCLE TIM: So pretty much. I mean my version of rioting is running outside and screaming which is quite normal in San Francisco so nobody really stared at me or anything. It was a little anticlimactic. But my favorite Oleg Verniaev won with a 92.165.


JESSICA: Yaaaaay


UNCLE TIM: And he beat Fabian Hambiceps who had a 90.264. And coming in third was Daniel Purvis with an 89.931. On the women’s side was coming in first was Elizabeth Price with a 58.032. Coming in second was Larisa Iordache with a 57.998, so it was really close this year. And coming in third was Vanessa Ferrari with a 56.866. I just want to point out that I picked both the winners. When we picked our winners I picked Oleg and Elizabeth Price to win and I got it right.


JESSICA: I would just like to point out that I said Daniel Purvis was going to be up there.


UNCLE TIM: It’s true, it’s true. And so there was also this team competition. And China brought kind of their big guns. They brought Wang Li Don, Tan Sixin, Tan Jiashin, and Yao Jinnan. And they came in first. Coming in second was Russia. The most notable gymnasts were Aliya Mustafina, Tatiana Nabieva. And coming in third was Germany. On the men’s side, first was China, second Japan, and third was Great Britain. And we have a lot of videos to discuss Jess. So let’s cut to those videos right away. What did you think of Aliya Mustafina’s new flight series.


JESSICA: Are you referring to her front aerial front aerial back handspring?




JESSICA: I am fine with it because she actually connects it. And I’m totally ok with that. Although the arm swing thing, the arm swing I guess is fine because she lands with her arms behind her and then just swings them straight back over. I’m fine with that. I don’t care. Connecting two front aerials to back handsprings, whatever. She does other really hard stuff, like an onodi to double turn. What?! That’s nuts! So I’m fine with it. What did you think?


UNCLE TIM: I was very happy to see that she added a new flight series. Because what was it at Worlds? A back handspring back tuck or something? I don’t remember. Or back tuck standing back handspring? Anyways. Something like that that was something ridiculous. So I’m very happy to see her upping her level of difficulty on beam. Also so on Coach Rick’s website on, he said that he thought maybe Elizabeth Price could eventually do a yurchenko triple twisting yurchenko. A twiple twisting yurchenko! What do you think Jess? Do you think Ebee would be capable of that?


JESSICA: Yes, but so yes. I do. But after our talk with Dr. Larry Nassar, I think it is never worth anyone doing that until they are at least in their 30s and never ever want to do gymnastics again. Because yeah. Yeah I think she could. And she just looks so- incidentally you know, she looks incredible and so does Ms. Strauss. Right? Last time we saw her she was in her wheelchair little beeper scooter thing. And she looked great. I think that she has been revitalized with the second coming of Ebee. So I was happy to see she looked healthy. Yeah. Yeah I think she could totally do it. What do you think?


UNCLE TIM: I think she could do it. I again it’s one of those things like you have an amanar, is it really worth going for the triple twisting yurchenko? I don’t know. Especially if you want to go to college eventually and you want to be healthy for college. I don’t know.


JESSICA: But you should totally do it into the pit for fun and send us videos. That’s a given.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. That’s what she should do. What did you think of her leotard? She had a, I don’t even know how to describe it. A pepto bismal pink leo with some like a white almost-


JESSICA: It was the same-


UNCLE TIM: I don’t even know. It was very like pilgrimy around the neckline.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] It was the same one they were wearing in Mexico, it was just they had red ones and she had the pink one. I mean I like the pink simply because pink means world domination now. That is what pink means when you wear a pink leo. So I’m ok with that. But I think that on her, she has really strong shoulders and traps. And so it does not accentuate her neckline I think in the best way. I think there’s a different kind of design that would look better on her. And especially when you’re competing as an individual I feel like why not select a leotard that is best for that as opposed to Mexico they’re competing as a team. But she’s there by herself. She should be able to pick something she really likes. But maybe this is her favorite leo ever. But I’m sure she intimidated everyone even more in that leo because it made her look like yeah she could pick up the vault, bench press it, then throw it into the crowd, which I liked.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] Nice. Yeah. Speaking of things you liked, I know that you loved Sophie Scheder’s bar routine. Sophie’s from Germany. She qualified for the event finals at Worlds but she didn’t medal. She scored a 15.2 which is quite a good bar score. What do you think of the routine?

JESSICA: Oh my God. She is like form and body type wise, she’s like the second coming of Khorkina. Gorgeous, long lines. Tall, as in average height for a normal human woman. Just beautiful. She even does the Khorkina tap on bars where she’s really hollow over the top of the bar and then taps and then taps over the low bar. It’s just gorgeous to watch. I love a nice 5 foot 5 gymnast on bars. I could watch them all day. So beautiful. Someone please make a slow motion video of all of her Stalders. I could watch it like sheep jumping over a fence to put me to sleep at night. Just so lovely. I love her. If we could combine her and Ruby Harrold together, perfect gymnast for all time.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah that would be your dream.

JESSICA: Yes it would.

UNCLE TIM: With a little bit of Becky Downie, maybe a little bit of her too and yeah. You’d be in heaven.

JESSICA: Combine her Stalders with an in bar release move creativity and I would just fall over. I wouldn’t be able to handle it. It would be too much for me. But she’s glorious. Just stunning, stunning to watch.

UNCLE TIM: And speaking of routines that almost made us fall over, what was going on with Yao Jinnan, especially during team finals?

JESSICA: She was like a little bit off. I mean the routine was fine and then she was a little bit off. I don’t know. She tapped too soon or if she just let go of the bar really really late but she just hurled herself into her double layout and had to completely tuck to not miss the high bar. Then of course as she’s doing that, she’s throwing her head back. I thought for sure she was going to land on top of the bar and hit her head on the bar. It was so scary. So so so scary. And it was really weird. It kind of came out of nowhere. She had a really nice routine. So terrifying. Terrifying. But not as terrifying as Nabieva’s dismount, which was actually completely fine. I literally screamed when I saw her dismount. Maybe it was just the angle, not watching from the side. You know those videos are kind of from the front at a diagonal. Screamed, screamed by myself watching on my phone on the couch, screamed.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah when Nabieva does the full twisting double back, it looks like she’s going to do one of those full twisting Tkatchevs, where you kind of hold on to the bar for a long time and then kind of scoot your butt over the bar and twisting at the same time. And that’s what it looks like. Legs come apart and she holds on to the bar forever. Yeah that was very scary. I feel like there is a tendency with the Chinese to have beautiful routines and then pull in to the bar at the very end. I’m trying to think who else did that. Somebody else did that I want to say at the Olympics.

JESSICA: Do you think, someone was speculating that that is because their routines are so freaking long that they have zero endurance at the end. And it kind of looks like that because they go, go, go and then they just fall to the ground like stones.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah and when you’re tired, you’re probably more likely to pull in because you’re like how am I going to hang on to the bar this long. Ohhh.

JESSICA: Please let me hang on long enough to not slip and land on the judges.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah the routine’s beautiful with her Ono turns and her Healys and stuff. But do you feel like the routine’s a little bit of a letdown without the Mo salto?

JESSICA: Yes. I feel like the Chinese are relying on their Ono turns too much. And they’re beautiful. They’re done so nicely but I’m just like, I mean it’s like a compulsory routine. I’m like (snores). I mean honestly can they mix it up a little bit over there. I mean it’s getting a little boring. I mean it’s like the Chinese men on high bar too with the twisties and the twisties and another twisty and oh they do like one release move.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s true. They find a formula that works and then they all do it. I am curious though if they have problems with labrum tears like we do in America with all the girls doing L grips and stuff.

JESSICA: Oh yeah! I’ll bet we never ever find out because they probably censor and it we’ll never know. Who knows? Maybe someday someone will escape and give us the records of them constantly fixing labrums over there. Or maybe they have a special secret, something they do when they’re little kids, some special labrum protecting technique, like don’t compete if you’re over 70 pounds.


JESSICA: Now let’s talk to Kristen and find out how to play Fantasy Gym. So Kristen Watkins is here with us and she runs the one and only Fantasy Gymnastics league on the planet, as far as I know. People have been asking us forever about this because everybody wants to, just like they always wanted a podcast, they’ve always wanted to play fantasy gymnastics. And so everyone has been asking us about this for years. Last season, we got so many questions people wanting to know how they could play. And so Kristen is here to tell us about it. So first of all, let’s get to the most important part. There are deadlines for the draft. So when does the draft start?

KRISTEN: So the draft starts this Saturday on December 7, that’s when everything will open up and everyone can start researching all their gymnasts and putting them in their ranked order. And we’ll have a few weeks to go through that whole drafting thing. And then I’ll press the magic button and everyone will get drafted and everyone will have their teams and the whole game will start.

JESSICA: And then when does the draft end? So like if you don’t draft

KRISTEN: December 28th. I give you a couple of days after Christmas to get your crap together, draft if you forgot and then we’ll be rolling from there.

JESSICA: Okay cool. So we have from December 8th to December 28th to draft your team and if you miss the deadline, you’re out. You have to wait until next year. And this is only women’s NCAA right?

KRISTEN: Yeah for now. So last year it was only Division I women’s NCAA. This year, I’m expanding it to Division II and III, so they’ll be included this year which is exciting. And I’m hoping eventually to do men’s but for now, just to keep my life simple, we’ll start with women’s and see how it goes.

JESSICA: So like I could draft the best Division II vaulter and the best Division I floor person if I want to?

KRISTEN: Yeah you can do whatever you want.

JESSICA: Oh awesome okay!

KRISTEN: Yeah you just drag and drop and order them however you want and then it randomly decides who gets to go first in the draft and does it all for you. It’s pretty easy. If you’re a gymnast, you could pick your friend. You could do whatever you wanted.

JESSICA: So this is just like a regular fantasy league where like only one person can have Bridget Sloan on her team. Or can multiple people have Bridget Sloan on their team?

KRISTEN: Yeah so what we do is there are conferences, kind of like real NCAA. You know, there’s the PAC 12 and all those other conferences. People get randomly assigned into them. So you’ll be assigned a conference with maybe 10 people and within that same conference, no one has the same gymnast. So only one person can have Bridget Sloan or you know, whoever else it is. But between the conferences, people can have the same person. Just to make it a little bit more even and interesting, no one has the same gymnast within one conference but between them, someone can have them twice because there aren’t that many gymnasts to go around.

JESSICA: Okay that makes sense. And then what happens if someone is injured or they redshirt in the beginning of the season? Are they automatically taken off and can you redraft then?

KRISTEN: So last year we didn’t have that option and I’m trying to figure out a way to do it this year. It’s a little complicated. But for right now, there’s not really a way to do that. But each person gets twenty gymnasts so hopefully that’s enough to kind of cover your bases. You know, I had a couple of girls that I found out last year that were just out for the season and I didn’t know that when I picked them. But I was still able to get enough people on all my events the way I wanted to so looking into it, but so far we don’t have an option for injured gymnasts, just like if you were a coach of a real college team.

JESSICA: Of a real team, you’re totally screwed if that happens to you during the season. But 20 gymnasts is a really good size team. And so what happens if, oh I totally lost my oh. How many people do you have signed up for this?

KRISTEN: So right now we have maybe 450 people that have an account. So we already have double what we had last year so it should be a big year. And you know, the more the merrier. The nice thing about it is as many people can play as they want and it doesn’t make it any less fun.

JESSICA: That’s awesome! That’s so many people! Can you make your own, like I want to make my own, like I want to get all my friends together and compete against each other so we can talk massive crap to each other the entire time, can I do that? Can I put 20 or so of my friends together and have our own little league?

KRISTEN: Yeah so that’s another thing that I am working on. The kind of cool thing is that there is a big leaderboard of everybody that’s playing so you can compare yourself to your friends even if you’re not in the same conference. So that actually happened to me. I did college gymnastics back in the day and most of my college teammates did it. So even if we weren’t in the same league, we were able to compare across each other and poke at each other and say hey I’m beating you or she’s beating you or whatever. So we’re working on getting it where you can actually do it with a normal fantasy league where you and your friends create a league and that kind of thing. But not quite yet as this is not a full time job for me unfortunately.

JESSICA: Someday though someday. Now the other important question. How do you talk smack? Is there your own message board on here or is there a hashtag we should use for talking smack on Twitter? What is the appropriate method here?

UNCLE TIM: Jessica’s very clear priorities

KRISTEN: So you can use the hashtag #fantasygym. That’s the one we’ve been using for a while. That is welcome and it will actually show up on the home page of College Fantasy Gymnastics so everyone can see what you say.

JESSICA: Even better!

KRISTEN: Yeah and we’re working on, I’m going to have a message board so you can talk to members in your conference. It’s not going to be for the entire group but you could leave a little note saying I’m going to get you next week Uncle Tim or whatever it is.

JESSICA: I love this! Oh my gosh, I’m so excited to do this. I’ve always wanted to do it and I’ve just been intimidated by I don’t know what. So I’m totally in. I’m doing it and we will encourage our listeners. They don’t need much encouragement because they have been wanting to do this. We’ve had so many question last year about this so. Okay you guys. You start December 7th and you have until the 28th. So don’t forget for the 28th or else you’re out for the rest of the year. So this is fabulous. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us and thank you for putting this together.

KRISTEN: Yeah no problem. Thank you for having me on.

UNCLE TIM: And what’s the website?


ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.

Alright, so we’re going to go straight to gymternet news now because we are going to bring you our interview with Dr. Larry Nasser later this week. So number one in gymternet news is that we have a gift guide, a holiday gift guide. I put this together. I’m very proud of myself because I always wanted someone to find all of the gym nerdy stuff that I would want to buy and put it all in one place so I don’t have to find that one person on Etsy in Sweden or the leotard maker in France or the one t shirt company in Canada. So I did it and I put them all together. So we have a little gift guide for you for anything you want to tell your friends and family to get for you, something nice to buy for yourself or to indoctrinate the little munchkins in your house with gymnastics things. What’s your favorite thing that’s in the gift guide?

UNCLE TIM: I’m trying to think. Oh I know. The Iron Man leotard. I thought that was the most hilarious thing in the world. But I’m trying to think, in terms of things I would actually buy….so one of the cool free things are the Christmas tags for presents. I’m totally going to use those.

JESSICA: And those are free by the way. Free.

UNCLE TIM: Yes, free. The thing I would want most, maybe tickets to the US Nationals next year. That might be something I’d want the most. What about you? What’s your favorite?

JESSICA: I think the beam, the lady on Etsy who will do custom 8 foot long low beams for you. So she has ones that are like leopard print with pink feet. I love those. And I wouldn’t get one for me but you know, maybe one of my little gymnastics nieces. And what’s another thing I love? I put some workout gear in there that’s kind of adult gymnastics workout stuff. And there are some awesome pants that are crazy expensive but they are so cool looking. I just want them. Like the (inaudible) ones that are compression pants with like little panels in them that are sort of like nylony. They make you sort of look like Lara Croft. And who doesn’t want to look like you’re going to pillage ancient treasure and kick ass on your beam routine. So I like those. Alright let’s talk about the craziest thing that happened this week. It shook the gymternet. Azerbaijan recruited three Russian gymnasts and some other gymnasts to come to Azerbaijan and compete for them. So the list for the new citizenship, who’s competing for what countries came out last week. And let’s see. Who’s one of our favorite gymnasts from Russia, two time Olympian, she has two World medals and is never ever selected for a team but she’s gorgeous? Hmm who would that be? 26-year-old Anna Pavlova will now be competing for Azerbaijan. In addition, Inshina. She’s 18. She was on the 2011 World Championship squad in Tokyo. She was sixth on balance beam. She is also going to Azerbaijan and competing for them in addition for one of the male gymnasts. And I think this is freaking fantastic. I could watch, as you know, Pavlova all day long. She’s one of those gymnasts that if she wasn’t from Russia, she would be competing for some other country and finally she has done just that. And according to Rewriting Russian Gymnastics, she will not be receiving any payment. None of the gymnasts will. They only receive payment if they win medals. So there really isn’t a financial incentive for them. The incentive is they get to compete on an international stage again instead of never being picked for teams. And there’s another article that Rewriting Russian Gymnastics talked about, translated and basically Pavlova says you know I was tired of not being picked for teams. I was tired of the selection process being unfair and she gives some examples of someone who took second or third in the all around and then wasn’t picked to go to Worlds or World Cup. You know, she would speak out about those things and she thinks the federation turned against her because she spoke out about it. She’s like you know I want to compete internationally and I think I still can and so this is what was my incentive to do this. I’m freaking stoked. But of course this leads to the whole what do you think of country hopping and a country like Azerbaijan who has the money can incentivize gymnasts to come to their country. I mean, they’re not buying them or paying them a salary. But they’re basically saying come and compete for us and we’ll support you and send you to these meets and finance you competing on the international stage again, which is a big incentive. What do you think about that?

UNCLE TIM: I really don’t have a problem with it. I feel like this whole idea of competing for your country and your nationality is very nineteenth century and very concept of nationhood. I think that we live in an era of globalization and you should be able to cross borders and compete for other countries if that’s a possibility. I think I’ve said this on the podcast before. If I were someone who finished fifth at the P&G Championships on the women’s side, I would be looking at my family tree and trying to find out what country would give me citizenship so I could compete at the Olympics in 2016.

JESSICA: I totally agree. I have no problem with it. I think it’s fantastic. I mean yeah maybe it’s unfair but so are sports. So how is this any more unfair than the two per country rule? Yes, you’re the third best gymnast in the world but you’re not allowed to compete at all in the all around finals. I just think it’s fabulous. I could care less. And all of the gymternet wins because Pavlova’s back! (cheers)

UNCLE TIM: Yeah and speaking of other gymnasts competing for other countries, Sophina DeJesus is competing for Puerto Rico I believe. So she’ll also be competing for another country. Well Puerto Rico is kind of part of the United States but not really. So complicated. But yeah I think it’s great. I’m curious what will happen with Anna Pavlova’s Russian nationality, if she’ll be able to be a dual citizen or if Russia will be like you have forsaken us. You must give up your Russian citizenship or what have you.

JESSICA: Her mom’s going to be the national team coach and they’re going to stay in Russia to train so I think they’re doing dual citizenship. I don’t know that for a fact but it seems that way. They don’t even have the facilities for them to train in Azerbaijan. So yeah that’d be my guess. So what’s happening with this Chuso article? It looked really mean.

UNCLE TIM: In what way do you think it was mean?

JESSICA: They were talking about how she wasn’t a good citizen and she would just go with whoever had the money to save her son and she had to defend herself against her homeland or defecting, well it’s not defecting but leaving to compete for another country because they could help save her son. I was just disgusted with that. Like how could you ever put nationhood above human life?

UNCLE TIM: So I think that the article itself wasn’t mean but the way that the Uzbek gymnastics federation treated Oksana Chusovitina when she left for Germany was mean. And so the article talks a little bit about how she was accused at the time of being unpatriotic but they also point out, it’s very even handed. They also point out the fact that the gymnastics federation didn’t pay for, didn’t give her money for her results. For instance, at the Asian Games in 2002 where she won two gold medals and two silver medals. So yeah, I think the article does a good job of showing both sides of the story. And so yeah she has returned even though she said she was not going to return. They don’t really know why. That’s the interesting thing. Like nobody really knows why she started competing for Uzbekistan again. Some people think it’s to help them with the upcoming Asian Games in South Korea next year. Yeah it’s not really clear. But there were some details I definitely didn’t know before. For instance, when she left for Germany, she had to sell her house and her car. Yeah it just seemed like a huge financial strain on her.

JESSICA: She’s got to be the person who has completely risen above all the nonsense. Like she must have seen everything that can possibly happen, having your federation talk smack about you, having the worst possible thing happen to your kid. That Asian Games I believe is the one where her and her husband weren’t allowed to room together even though they were married because people were against them because he’s Muslim or she’s Muslim or she’s Christian or something like that, all this nonsense about their religion. I mean she must have just seen everything. She must be the best person at just nodding at people and then going and kicking ass. Being like oh people are stupid. Now I’m going to just go and do my thing. I wonder how she deals with it all and compartmentalizes or processes all the nonsense. But she’s just a hero. A hero.

UNCLE TIM: As the article points out, people who criticized her when she immigrated to Germany, they are no longer in the Uzbek federation and so the guard has changed. One official in the article said I hope she has forgiven us for everything that has happened. And so yeah. I think that it’s not necessarily as mean-spirited as you originally thought.

JESSICA: Okay well I’m glad. I’m very defensive when it comes to Chusovitina. And she placed fifth at the Mexican Open with the kids so we love her. Everybody do not forget that this Friday December 6th, the gymnastics episode of Bones is going to be on Fox. So make sure you watch that. Maroney’s in it. Some other NCAA gymnasts who I’m sure you will recognize are in it. And it looks to be pretty funny and we can only hope that Spanny will do a recap of this episode. So this Friday December 6th and then after you do that, you’re going to go to bed, wake up the next morning and you’re going to draft your fantasy NCAA team on the 7th. Okay write that down. Put it in your calendars. Okay. Uncle Tim, who is our international shout out of the week winner this week?

UNCLE TIM: It goes to Christian Clarkson who is very very active on our Facebook page and she is from the UK. So hi Christian. Thanks for everything and thanks for always having great comments.

JESSICA: Yay I hope she’s going to Glasgow. It’s not Glasgowww it’s Glasgow. This is how I remember this now. I’m very excited for this meet. If you enjoy the show, please review us on iTunes, rate us, share us on Facebook or Twitter, recommend us to your friends, watch our video playlists for this episode, subscribe via email. You can download Stitcher app. Leave us a voicemail 415-800-3191 and our Skype username is Gymcastic Podcast. Shop in our Amazon store. Check out our holiday gift guide. As long as you shop through our Amazon link, a little portion goes back to the show. And you guys asked for a way to directly support the show and you can do that by donating, a little donate button. And as always, we read all of your emails at So later this week, we will be bringing you our interview with Dr. Larry Nasser from Team USA. And until then, thank you so much for listening and we will see you later this week. I’m Jessica from Masters Gymnastics

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: Thanks for listening!



[expand title=”Episode 63: Doctor Larry Nassar”]

LARRY: We protect our athletes. That’s what we learned from 2000, is not just physically but mentally you have to protect your athletes. You have to let them know that we care. Not let them know, but let them feel it. Let them understand it. Let them breathe it. It’s there. It’s not just a pat on the back. You know what I mean? It has to be sincere.

[Express Yourself intro music plays]

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 We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: This is Episode 63 for December 5, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics and this is the number one gymnastics podcast ever in the history of humankind bringing you the most fascinating people in the gymternet. This weekend, the Glasgow World Cup starts. It looks like you’re going to be able to watch the whole thing live online. They had podium training up live today which is super exciting. We hope everybody gets there despite these crazy 100 mph winds they’re having. Some people were stuck in like Germany or Italy, so hoping everybody gets there because this is the best meet. You know how we love this meet because they do really innovative stuff, like the way they put the meet on. So check British Gymnastics for details. And remember that after you watch that meet, so Saturday that meets happening. But Friday, Maroney is going to be on Bones, which is on Fox. So make sure to watch her on that show and then Saturday you have to wake up and draft your fantasy gymnastics team. Make sure you’re doing that. I’m already stressing out about it. Like my hands are sweating just thinking about it. It’s very serious. It’s my first year. Also make sure you check out our fabulous gift guide which I put together myself and I keep adding things to it because I can’t help myself because I want everything on there and I keep finding more awesome stuff. Like this week, I found these leos. They’re actually swimsuits but you can wear them as leos and they have like comic book pages on them. They’re so cool. Anyway, I’ve added a couple more things. So check that out. And speaking of our gym nerd gift guide, there is a purple foldable portable four incher. Yes. That’s right, I said it’s purple which is my favorite color. How freaking cool is that? I want everything purple. I wish they had this when I was a kid because me and my friend T, we used to run from our back patio through the dining room and then into the living room and we would flip off of this little round jogging trampoline that they had in the 80s and then we’d land on couch cushions and a futon, which is super safe. I have no idea how we didn’t sprain our ankles every time. But if we had had this amazing junior practice mat, we would have been much much safer. Plus both the futon and the couch cushions would have lasted longer. Sorry Dad. The junior practice mat comes in blue and purple but obviously purple’s better. Everybody knows that. Right now, TumblTrak has free shipping on select items and it’s 10% off through the end of December. So you should probably check out this awesome junior practice mat at That’s Our interview today with Dr. Larry Nasser ATC is brought to you by TumblTrak. Dr. Larry Nasser has the best credentials ever for gymnastics doctor because he is a certified athletic trainer which is a combo of, trainers are like a combo of a trainer and a physical therapist but they’re specifically trained to work with athletes only, not like some physical therapists that say oh yeah I work with athletes. No, athletic trainers, that’s all their trained to work with. It’s very very very specialized. So anyway. I’m totally biased and you’ll find out why in a second. He’s also an osteopathic doctor. So osteopaths are physicians, just like an MD. But osteopaths are trained to treat in a holistic way, kind of like the whole person and focus on prevention. They also use manipulative therapy which sounds kind of weird but it basically means they use their hands to diagnose an illness or injury. I have a doctor who’s an osteopath and there’s a huge huge difference. MDs are great too. I use them both for different things. I have a special place in my heart for osteopaths and I’ll tell you why right now. Because, I’m just going to tell you that I’m totally biased in this interview, completely and totally biased. I just love Larry Nasser and my undergraduate degree was in athletic training and long, long ago during my internship years, I worked with Dr. Nasser at Level 10 nationals and he’s totally amazing. He completely blew me away. He looks like Inspector Gadget when he’s working because he’s doing a million things at once but he’s super kind and accommodating to everyone including the coaches that would come up and needed treatment. He was working the meet and teaching me at the same time. He’s just amazing. So I’m totally biased. I think he’s awesome and that’s from personal experience. He has been the US national team physician since 1996. He is also an associate professor at Michigan State University’s medical school and he’s the team doctor for the gymnastics team. So you know, no big deal. I don’t know when he sleeps, honestly. He’s great. I’m going to stop going on and on about how awesome he is because we’re about to bring you the interview. So for all you wannabe doctors out there and wannabe athletic trainers, I’m telling you right now. Go to Michigan State. Get in, get into the athletic training program. You will get the most amazing education in the entire world. I also want to mention for those of you who aren’t familiar with the horror story that was the 2000 selection process for USA Gymnastics, we’ve talked about it a couple of times. But just to tell you the timeline here that he’s going to refer to. So Vanessa Atler, she was hailed as like the second coming of Nadia. She fell apart at the Olympic Trials and failed to make the team. And then team member Morgan White couldn’t perform due to a foot injury and so Tasha Schwikert was named as her replacement. And that meant that the first alternate Alyssa Beckerman was passed over. And allegedly, this all happened right before a team practice. They were just told oh Alyssa you’re off the team. Tasha you’re in. Okay now run. So that’s kind of what went down. So now you know kind of what he’s talking about and we’ll start the interview.


JESSICA: The fans used to call of course the Ranch, they would call the camps death camps because everyone would get hurt every time they went there and the fans were like outraged. And I think it definitely has changed over the years. You can see the difference between those years you were talking about when everything was in flux to now. I think there’s way less injuries. I mean I’m sure you have the data to back it up but

LARRY: Well so the issue is this. Intimidation and um intimidation. I think that’s the best word. They felt well if you’re adapting to a new situation. And what we’ve done in the United States is we’ve very much worked hard at bringing cultures from all over to be able to train at the Ranch and learn how to keep the gymnasts in their clubs and not have to have their star gymnasts limited to one or three or four clubs like the way it was in the past. If you didn’t go to Back Fliers club, you’re kid wasn’t going to compete at an international assignment.


LARRY: Training camps in the past, way back, was basically a selection for these few clubs to pick the kids to come to their team because their coaches were not even allowed at the training camps. Only the kids would be allowed to go. So the kids would know if I go to training camps and I stay with this coach, I’m not going to no international competitions. Through TOPS, we have the opportunity program, which was designed originally with Bill Sands and Gary Lorne more as a determinant than what it is today. That has allowed us to have someone like Simone Biles, someone like Shawn Johnson, that coaches who have never coached an elite kid before are able to take this kid and take them to the World Championships and the Olympics. And it gives us a huge variety of different clubs that are now associated with the national team which is awesome.

JESSICA: Totally!

LARRY: So now, the new result is you show up on the scene and oh I’ve got to prove myself. The problem is intimidation by the coaches and intimidation by the athletes because they feel like they’ve got to prove themselves. So they show up at the Ranch and they do things that they wouldn’t normally do at home as they’re trying to prove themselves. It’s the intimidation of the coach to say look what my athlete can do to push their own gymnast and the intimidation of the gymnast to say look what I can do. And so they’re going to get hurt. It’s new equipment, the feel of the equipment, the type of equipment, equipment they’ve never worked on before. Yet, they’re going to try to prove themselves. Therefore, injuries increase. At the same time, over the time that they start coming more and more, then they realize, don’t get intimidated. You don’t want your athlete to get hurt. Do what your athlete is capable of doing, not more. And show consistency and that’s how you make it. Okay so there’s a learning curve just like there is for anything else. Just like for me to say look at me. Look what I can do and I’m running with the big horses now. Alright, okay. But what they realize is you keep doing that and you’re going to be sitting on the sidelines. You need to come in, do what you normally do in your own situations, in your comfort zone. Don’t get out of your comfort zone. Does that make sense?

JESSICA: Yeah. That totally makes sense. I don’t know if I’m right about this, but I feel like the selection camps and camps used to be way farther apart. And now they’re every month.

LARRY: Well yeah we would go to the Ranch maybe only once a year because it was the old system. The old system changed between 1999 and 2000 when Bela came in and then we started to have them once a month or about 10 times a year. And then we would go to the Ranch starting in 1999-2000 monthly after it switched over. That’s when life starts to change. Bela primed the pump. We really had a hard time supplying the pump between 1999 and 2000. And those kids that were there, we don’t ever see too. Those 1999-2000 teams, if it wasn’t for them. It’s their blood, sweat, and tears that the rest of these gymnasts, who have no earthly clue what these kids went through before. Those kids, mentally and physically, there was such a drastic change, not just for them but for their coaches to understand and adapt to this new system. And then Martha was the savior of that system. And Bela stepped aside and Martha got a chance to fly. It was amazing. She, over the years was able to stand up and actually make things happen. We’ve had more success with Martha as the manager than what the team has ever ever ever even imagined to be able to have prior to that and it’s because of the way Martha’s able to work. Not everyone likes Martha. Not everyone needs to. You know what I mean? It doesn’t matter. The fact of the system, it’s indisputable, the fact that she’s been able to make it work. And you may like that or not, but she’s been able to make it work. And over the years, she has changed. She’s not the same person that she was ten years ago. She’s not the same person she was twenty years ago. And that’s normal. Many people, when you’re at the age that she’s at aren’t the same as they were ten or twenty years ago. You learn from your experiences and you adapt and that’s what’s made Martha even better. She’s learned and adapted from the past and been able to assume into this role of not being my gymnast, but other people’s gymnast. You know, so over the years we’ve gone from one time to one to two times a year to ten times to now USAG has close to sixty, like every single week there is an event at that Ranch. Between mens, well not men’s gymnastics. Their discipline is not there. Women’s artistic, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling and acro. Between those disciplines, we’re there every single week of each year and more so which is amazing to think. That all happened between ’08 and ’12. So up until about ’08, we were at maybe twenty different events there or so. But legit, between ’08 and where we are now it went up to fifty and close to sixty, we’re past sixty now events there a year. So that’s a lot of change.

JESSICA: You’re talking about the team leading up to the 2000 Olympics and all they went through. And I know you’ve said in the past what a special place in your heart they’ll always hold.

LARRY: Oh 100%

JESSICA: What was it like for you being there on the sideline? I feel like that’s one of the hardest things about your job is seeing everything that’s going on and there’s only so much you can do. And that was such a difficult period. What was it like for you?

LARRY: It was hell. Back then, it was the same as what the coaches and the athletes were going through is what I had to go through. You know, we had to adjust and we had to adapt. We had to teach. We had to educate. We had to adapt and teach the culture to the administration too about legalities in the gym. The bottom line is that you’re going to select an athlete, no longer the athlete that scores the highest is going to the events. You’re selecting. You’re picking. And now you want to know their injuries and you want to know every detail about their injuries and you want me to tell you the details of those injuries so it weighs in to the way you select those athletes. You still expect the athletes and the coaches to come knowingly to tell me this and then for me to share that information with you? I said it ain’t going to happen. They’re going to hide. They’re going to deceive. They’re going to do whatever they can do to try and avoid having to show or display any type of injury because that may displace them in the selection. Since you’re setting this up to try and hide and deceive. You can’t have that. There’s a thing called HPA. We need legal forms, if they want to come, they have to sign and legally they have to allow us to know this information and know that it will not be held against them if they still can do the work that they need to be able to do. You know, in other words, we want them to be safe. We don’t want them to hide injuries and working beyond what they’re capable of doing and then making a small injury worse because they’re trying to hide it instead of resting it. If they trust us, they can not have to hide the injury. We can say do less numbers and we want you to in three or four months be here. You don’t need to be here right now. It was a culture that we had to try and end. It was hard. It was exceedingly hard to get the coaches, the athletes and the administration to listen, that this is how we have to gain their trust. You, the administration, cannot use their injury against them. You, athletes, have to be able to trust me that you’re going to be able to talk to your coaches and tell what the injury is. Coaches, you have to be able to talk to your athletes. And coaches and athletes, you have to be able to trust that the administration is not going to use the information against you. And that was exceedingly hard. And that’s why we had a lot of injuries back then too, because no one wanted to come forth and say. And so now, we’ve worked through that and we’ve all signed HPA forms. It was huge. I mean, people were irate about having to sign this stuff at first. But now, legally I can share the information you know with the administration. Because I’m not going to do anything that’s not legal first of all. And now Martha, the vast majority of the time, people do not understand this, the vast majority of the time, after I share the information with Martha, Martha is the one who tries to help get the coaches to decrease.


LARRY: She’s the one, if they have that injury, that that coach is not pushing that kind in their personal gym back home. Not just going to show that kid at the Ranch, but I’ll get phone calls saying so and so is still doing too much and I’ll get on the phone and talk to them.

JESSICA: That’s so good to hear.

LARRY: People don’t understand that. And even today, a lot of the coaches will say no way. (inaudible.) We have worked so much together and she definitely wants to stay through to 2016 because we have a working relationship of trust. We know when is it time to back off and when it’s time that you don’t have time any more to back off. But when the coaches are trying to push against you when they should be backing off, they end up in trouble. And Martha doesn’t want that. No, get them out! Stop! I mean it’s amazing. The only time it comes to push is when we’re at the Worlds, we’re at the Olympics, we’re at the international events. Well can we get them through? That’s the big thing then. It’s like okay. We have an injury. We’re here. You’re on the team. We’re either going to be able to use you or we’re going to have to replace you if you safely can’t do it. That’s the only time that there’s a push.


LARRY: Before that, it’s like alright this is the time to get healthy so that when we get to the international competitions, you’re not hurt. And Martha spends more time telling the coaches to back off and saying the reason why the kid is still hurt is because the coach is pushing too much. You’ve got to get that coach to back off. And that I think will surprise a lot of people but that’s the honest to God truth. And that’s why I have that relationship with Martha that works. Because she’s not some evil person trying to make people do beyond what they’re normally capable of doing. And that’s the hardest thing for a coach. That’s the hardest thing for any of the coaches is every single day, that gymnast walks into their gym, it’s the coaches job to try and get them to do things that they don’t think they can do. That’s the nature of coaching. The nature of coaching is you can’t do that double back. It’s my job to get you to do that double back by mentally believing that you can do it. And that’s tough. That’s tough. I can’t do that job. I give coaches huge credit for being able to take someone day in and day out and try and get them to do things that they need help being able to get pushed to do and that’s tough. So tough job.

JESSICA: Absolutely. Oh my gosh. People are going to lose their minds when they hear this. They are going to be so happy to hear this. It’s going to make people…I mean I think it’s one of the reasons we’ve always wanted to talk to you. Because I feel like you see everything and you have the perspective. Your whole job is keeping people as healthy as they can to achieve their dreams really. I mean athletic training and sports medicine, when I first wanted to go into it, I was like yeah you make people healthy. It’s about health. And then when I started doing it, I was like oh really it’s about how can I get someone to achieve their dream without further injury or killing themselves?  Because you’re going to have injuries when you’re at this level. It’s just, you know it’s a fact. And so I feel like when you come from that, you’re in the impartial person who’s entire job is health and safety and making sure people’s dreams can come true. So I feel like it’s so good to hear this from you.

LARRY: Well the injuries aspect of it, most important by far aspect of injury is that you need to protect the athlete from is a mental injury. The physical injuries, they almost always can recover from. It’s the mental injuries that leaves the scars that keep coming back and haunt them later. And that’s the job that we have to, as a team, work with. And that’s what happened to the ’99-2000 team. So many of them had mental injuries of what they went through. It’s so difficult, it’s so overbearing. It’s so overwhelming and we’ve never forgotten that and we’ve learned from that. We had to otherwise the system would have failed. I always explain to the gymnasts, the new gymnasts, when I get the chance. I’ve made videos of this and pictures of this. You walk from the old gym and you go to the new gym. As you walk from the old gym, it’s usually dark and you turn on one thing of lights. And you go to this double door and you open the door and the lights from the new gym appears. You walk up these steps. As you walk up these steps, on the left hand side now, it used to be on the left and right, now it’s just on the left, are these huge like two feet by a foot and a half, they’re huge posters of the 2000 team. And they’re in the gym. And you always have to walk by the 2000 team. There’s a picture of the entire 2000 team right over that door, right over the mantle of that door. So that door leading in, you have to pass by that 2000 team and then you go in and the largest pictures in there are like 8 by 12s of the other gymnasts that have happened since then. So the hugest pictures are the 2000 team because again it was there. It was them that paved the way for everyone else. And so you pay homage to them and never forget them, never forget what they went through, never forget that they are the ones that are allowing us to be as successful as what we are now, because we learned. And that’s the key thing is that we learned. And then Morgan White was just the amazing one because poor Morgan had the foot injury. And then it was in that time when no one wanted to talk about injury. I mean she wasn’t able to compete. It was there and we had to replace her. So at the Olympics we had Mary Lee Tracy, she had two kids Alyssa Beckerman and Morgan White. She was appointed head coach for the team. Bela’s the team manager. She’s the appointed coach because she’s got two kids on the team. Neither of her kids are able to compete. We bring in Tasha Schwikert as the replacement athlete and at that moment Kathy, not Kathy but Mary Lee Tracy with Morgan, with Alyssa had to leave. They had to leave. I mean it’s that harsh. What the Olympic committee does for gymnastics, and I think it’s only gymnastics, we’ve fought this, is that if our athlete is replaced at the Olympic Games, their name is erased, out of the Olympic books. They don’t exist. You cannot find anywhere in any USOC anywhere in the United States Olympic Committee that Morgan White was a part of the 2000 Olympic team even though she made the team. Just like some of the kids from the 1984 team, Lucy. I mean it’s like she’s gone. She tears her ACL and she doesn’t exist. She doesn’t exist according to the United States. They have to turn in all of their warm-ups, all of their shirts, all of their everything that the USOC gave them, all of their equipment. They don’t get a ring. They don’t get a picture. They don’t get nothing. Okay, and the replacement gets everything. It’s so wrong. If you’re in wrestling and you don’t make weight, you’re a pound over, you never get to do anything at the Olympics because you are fat, you are one pound over. You’re still an Olympian. You still get all that stuff. If you’re a gymnast and 24-48 hours before the first day of competition when the lineup has to be turned in, you get hurt and you betray that whole time, you get hurt and you have to be replaced, you are marched out of the Olympic Village and you lose all of your stuff, you have to turn in everything. Is that right?

JESSICA: Oh that’s heartbreaking.

LARRY: It’s wrong. And Kathy Kelly fought this and fought this and fought this and USOC has refused to change it. So after 2000, after all the nightmare and the poor Morgan and Alyssa Beckerman, we have not replaced a single athlete at the Olympic Games. It doesn’t happen, refuse to happen. I have done whatever I can to keep the team as the team through any injury that they’ve had. And it’s worked so far. We’ve done well with it. It’s been very difficult. I’ll tell you that much you know. It hasn’t been easy because some of the injuries have been pretty significant but we’ve made it through safely. That’s the hardest thing. That is the hardest thing. Because okay, they’re fine. They get hurt. Do we replace them or not? We’ve got to look at scores. How can we still do? What’s the team going to function like? It’s not just about that individual but how’s it going to affect the team? If it’s three up three count, if one of those injuries happens to occur during the three up three count and we get a 5 or we get a 0 on that specific routine on three up three count, we go from gold medal to no medal. If you think there’s a little bit of stress, try saying yeah that person can go with that injury and be safe. It’s tough. But we’ve done it since 2000. It’s not easy but we’ve made it through.

JESSICA: Now of course I’m immediately thinking of Alicia Sacramone in Japan at Worlds and how that was sort of an unprecedented situation where I think Kathy Kelly was like I’m keeping her on the team. It wasn’t the Olympics situation where you’re talking about but you know she was kept on the team because it seemed like the sacrifice that she had made and been injured right beforehand and then everyone got medals, including the alternates.

LARRY: We have control over that because that’s Worlds. We have control over that. The Olympics, the USOC, we have no control. That’s the difference because we protect our athletes. That’s what we learned from 2000. Not just physically but mentally you have to protect your athletes. You have to let them know that we care. Not let them know but let them feel it. Let them understand it. Let them breathe it. It’s there. It’s not just a pat on the back. You know what I mean? It has to be sincere, that we care.

JESSICA: And I want to ask about the mental injuries. But before we go to that, I’m wondering now about Morgan White and going into the Olympics and how you’re talking about people in this situation that basically, they wanted their athlete to make the team and they were forced basically to hide their injury because of the way the team selection was. Did that happen with Morgan White? What kind of made her finally reveal her injury or was it something that was known? Or did she get hurt?

LARRY: It was an injury that was known. There was a lot, a lot, a lot going on with it. A lot of its old stuff that’s hard to bring back up where I was not allowed to participate much because of what I was trying to do. Anyway, so when I was allowed to show back up at the selection camp, as we’re getting ready to go to Australia, it was already too late. I knew her foot was injured, they knew her foot was injured but they were letting her do too much in the gym because they were trying to push. It was just like okay you’ve done too much already. It was like I mean you had your chance to rest it. But because there was a pressure to move forward, it wasn’t anyone’s fault. It was totally like you said, the environment of the time that created the situation in which, the time that Morgan could have rested her foot, it would have given her more time to recover before she needed to push on it was unfortunately wasted and she pushed too much to the point that now we don’t have enough time to rest it to make it good enough. When we got over to Australia, it came to a point where we were kind of trying to test it, she couldn’t do it. Yeah it was the culture at the time. It is what it is. My very first day when I came from the airport to that Ranch, they’d already been training. I found Mary Lee. I found Morgan. It was in between the first and second practice and we were late because I had to sit down and talk with Morgan and Mary Lee. The rest of the team was in the gym training and in late, like never late. Here comes Morgan and Mary Lee and you know it’s like let’s have a conversation. This is the situation that we’re in. Here’s reality. And that’s hard. But you have to make a reality check. You know what I mean? And that’s unfortunate. And then it’s okay that’s where we’re at now. How do we get to point A to point B? Can’t go backwards but now how do we move forward. We tried our best and you know, unfortunately it wasn’t enough for Morgan. So that was rough.

JESSICA: If you don’t want to talk about this, because I can’t even imagine how hard. I’m tearing up just listening to you talk about this so I can’t even imagine how it is for you right now and I don’t want to bring up the past over and over. So if you don’t want to answer this, absolutely I understand and we can move on. But it sounds like you weren’t allowed at the camp. Or at a certain time, they didn’t want you there because there was a disagreement about the injury and the agreements and HPA and all that stuff. Is that what happened?

LARRY: That was part of it. There was more. It was to do with a whole lot of trust issues that took time to develop. It was tough. There was some issues there that happened. It’s hard because I don’t want to bring up an individual. It has to do with an individual gymnast who, it was tough. It was an individual gymnast that created a situation that placed myself and a couple of other key people, it was in that transition when Bela was no longer going to coach an individual athlete and Bela was transitioning into being the new camp manager or the director of the team I should say, but team manager okay. One of our national team members contacted me and said I want to leave my coach. So we’re twelve months away from the Olympics, not even that. I want to leave my coach and go and have Bela become my coach. And so the mom called, the kid called because a lot of the kids trust me and we talk. And so I explained to them number one, I don’t think with the new rules you can leave your gym and go train with Bela because he’s not allowed to have a personal athlete in his new role. And number two, it’s not really good to leave your coach this soon before the Olympics. You want to try and stay where you’re at. Number three, I think your coach is excellent. Stay with that coach. They’ve got lots to offer you and to move forward. Number four, if you leave, if you’re worried that you’re training too hard with your coach now, it’ll just be you, Martha, and Bela out at the Ranch. They have no gym. You’d just be out at the Ranch full time. And back then, it was archaic, back then. Not the way it is now. Now, it’s beautiful compared to what it was. Living conditions back then were really rugged. I said, you’d have no teammates. It would just be you. And the reason why Martha and Bela are as good as what they are is because they work hard. They work harder than any other coaches. You’re going to work hard if you go there. And so, you’ve got to understand that. You’ll train harder, you’ll train by yourself if you try and do that. You’re better off staying where you are. This individual then writes a letter because she’s asked Bela to come. She’d asked Bob Colorassi to come to that gym. She really wanted to have Bela coach her. And so when she found out that she couldn’t do that because the rules were Bela couldn’t train an individual athlete because he trained the whole team, she writes this letter back to USA Gymnastics saying Bob Colorassi lied to her, that Bela Karolyi misled her and lied to her and that Larry Nasser said he tried to deter me from going to Bela because Bela was abusive. That’s what she wrote in the letter. Larry Nasser said that Bela would be abusive to me and tried to stop me from going to him. And Bela got a copy of the letter. And Bela said openly what was written there about him was false. Bob Colorassi said what’s in this letter is false. You’re not right and it’s not correct. So that’s what he said about what he did. But when it came to me, I just assumed that what was written about me was accurate. I said Bela, you’re saying what you said was false in that letter. Bob’s saying it’s false and I’m saying it’s false. I would never say you’re abusive. Why would I ever say that? So that’s why there was this big riff because this one individual. So Bela thought I was telling people he was abusive. And I’m like oh my God! I didn’t graduate from my residency on time because I’m doing things to specifically help. When Dominique Moceanu had her shin problem and Kerri Strug had her ankle problem, it was just Dominique, Kerri, Bela and Martha at the Ranch. I had no more vacation time at all because I’m always gone. I mean it was like a joke during my medical school residency. They had a blow up doll to put in my seat and be like that’s Larry because I’m at the Ranch and from this competition to there. So I’m at the Ranch again with just Bela, Martha, Kerri, and Dominique getting ready for the ’96 Olympic Trials and I’m like she’s got a stress fracture. Moceanu, hello. You know, we have to take care of this. And Bela and I were taking care of this. So they trusted me to be with them, just the five of us at the Ranch. I have to wait a whole year to be able to take my boards because I didn’t finish my residency on time. That delays your boards for a whole year. I did all of that. Why would I do that if I thought Bela was abusive? That’s what I tried to explain to Bela. And now it’s all fine. But I wasn’t allowed to be at the Ranch for like ten months because of that. So it was tough. It was a tough time you know. But over time, because of me being me and I just stick to it, stick to it, stick to it. When you’re honest and truthful, things will change. Anyone can see the pattern over and over again. When you’re deceitful and you try and do things and they see that you’re not the same person, you’re switching roles, you’re going back and forth, that leads people to distrust. But over the years, Bela and Martha saw the consistency, the consistency, the drive and the trust now is impeccable. Because I didn’t bow down. I didn’t let it affect me. You know what I mean? I still kept the priorities the priorities. I kept it straight and never veered from the priorities of gymnasts first. Gymnasts first. Gymnasts first. Nothing, nothing, nothing gets in the way of gymnasts first. Gymnast centered, their health, physical and mental, then comes everyone else and that includes parents. That includes coaches, that includes the administration. Everything else is secondary to that. And that’s why I’m able to still do the job that I do now, it’s because the gymnasts that are now the coaches know what I did when they were gymnasts. And if you screw up once with one of those gymnasts and it’ll spread like wildfire. If you deceit one of the gymnasts, if you do something where you break their train of trust, you’re done because they’ll never trust you again. And they’ll tell the other gymnasts. You’ve got to stick with the core. Protect the gymnasts mentally and physically and get them, teach them, educate them on how to share their emotions and share their trust with their coaches, parents and administrators, mainly their coaches and their parents. The attitude of self first, honest to themselves before they can be honest with other people, that’s what you’ve got to teach them. That’s what happened with this letter. She was deceitful. She was deceitful to herself, deceitful to her parents, deceitful to the coaches and deceitful to the administration because of the fact that she couldn’t be honest with herself. And because of that, I suffered for almost a year. Not only me. But anyway, we went back. So you’ve just got to stick to that. You’ve got to stick to the simple fact that the gymnast has to be honest with themselves first and not try and hide to themselves about what’s going on. Does that make sense?

JESSICA: That totally makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Yep.


LARRY: So anyway


JESSICA: Ugh. This is so good to hear. This is so good to hear. And have you ever had a situation where you know you’ve been overruled or your recommendation has been overruled by a parent? Like the coach and the gymnast maybe are saying ok, this is where we have to get off the train, this is the end of the road, I need to just take a step back. And a parent who can’t be honest with themselves, a parent who can’t see what’s really going on? And how do you deal with that?


LARRY: Well there’s times when parents try to use coaches as a scapegoat. That’s what I see more of. And that irritates me to no end. Where the athlete’s been injured, say, and the child hasn’t been able to fully rehabilitate the injury and take care of the injury. She hasn’t been brought to physical therapy, hasn’t been brought to a doctor. And then the child doesn’t make the team because they’re injured. Usually happens at Trials. And so the athlete then says the reason why my child is an alternate or the reason my child didn’t make the team is because the coach forbade her to take care of her injuries. And you know they come to me and I’ve heard this from several different parents. So I look at the parents and there’s a couple that want to sue the coach. And I said you’re the parents.




LARRY: Do you want me to call child protective services on you for what you’re just telling me? I said do you understand, you’re the parent. If you knew your child was injured, if you knew your child needs medical help to the point that you’re discussing to me right now, and you chose not to seek a medical attention, then who’s to blame? It’s your child. You have to do what’s right and good for your child. You chose not to do those things. The coach didn’t choose not to do those. You chose. So don’t be blaming the coach. It’s your child, and you chose not to seek medical help. That’s your fault, not the coach’s fault, you know? So it’s easy for the parents sometimes to get caught up in this situation too. And then when the [inaudible] of houses fall down, they want to place blame with other people. Out of line. The parent needs to be a parent, needs to love their child, needs to take care of their child, and that is important. They don’t need to coach their child, they don’t need to know what’s happening inside the gym to the point of how many reps the kid does or how many minutes their coach spends directly child or all this stuff and micromanaging. They need to say how did the gym go today, how did you do, did you have a great day, did you have a bad day, tell me about your day. Hug them and love them, whether it’s a good day or a bad day, and listen to them and support them. Nourish and love them. Don’t coach them, and don’t get caught up with the coaching of them. That is where the problem comes in, when it comes into the parental situations. They need to just be the parents.




LARRY: Does that make sense?


JESSICA: Totally. We’ve talked about this on the show before about when people put the dream of the Olympics or the dream of anything out. They put that before anything else, that is the top priority. It’s before their schooling, before their health, before anything. If parents do that, if a kid does that, then there’s no- everything goes bad from there. You just can’t ever do that.


LARRY: It’s a part of a dynamic of being centered on nourishing the child, nourishing the child from the parental standpoint, nourishing the child from a coaching standpoint, nourishing the child from a sports standpoint. And building and nourishing and having a reciprocal nourishment. Reciprocal nourishment is where by nourishing the child, you are nourished too. Not from a gain of awards and medals, but by gaining of enhanced experience of what the dynamics is of that relationship. Meaning if I’m a parent and I nourish that child well, then I’m nourished back by being a better parent. K? And that builds. If I’m a coach and I nourish that child well, that child does well, then I am a better coach for that. The money and medals are all side effects of appropriate reciprocal nourishment. If you focus on the money and the medals, bad things happen. That’s where you cut corners. That’s where you try and cheat the system. Cheat the body. Cheat the environment. And pay attention to the warning signs because you’re going for the gold medals.


JESSICA: I love that. I’m going to make that into a bumper sticker. Putting that in our tshirt series. [LAUGHS] So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about we have a segment on the show where we do gymnastics myth busters. So we like to ask people about things that are gymternet legends, things that urban legends that we want to find out if they’re really true. So we saw on your Facebook page that after Worlds, the night before finals-




JESSICA: You know what I’m going to say! That Martha ordered pizza and let everyone eat it, including the gymnasts. Is this really true?


LARRY: Yes that is true.


JESSICA: Are you making that up?


LARRY: That is true. That is totally 100% true.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] That is amazing. You know it seems to us from the outside that the number of ACL injuries and achilles injuries have increased over the years. Is that just a perception or is there actually data to back that up?


LARRY: In 1996-2000. Before 1996 we didn’t have ACL. It was very rare. But when they got rid of compulsories that was the first thing that changed, was between 96-2000 ACLs came about in male athletes and female athletes now. Other disciplines I’m talking about. And so yeah and then around then 2000 we started to get into the transition from ACL being a hot [inaudible]. 2004 was the rise of the achilles and all that started to happen. And in that same transitioning, we started seeing shoulders. In between 2004-2008 we sort of saw the transitioning into more and more shoulder injuries with the gymnasts. And after 2008 it’s whatever. It’s just out of control. So there is no trend more other than it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when you’re going to get hurt at the elite level at this point. It’s just ridiculous because [inaudible] no other sport you learn a skill it becomes passe and you again have to adapt and enhance it. You know? What other sport changes the rules that drastically every four years? If you were a football player you’d have to have only two downs to get a first now and you’d have to get 20 yards to get those first downs, and the goal post will be only six inches apart.




LARRY: You know? If they changed the rules every four years you know. What sport does this? It’s crazy. And we know that. And we know that we have to try and get the FIG to reverse some of this policy or there won’t be a sport. Because you can’t- look down the road, where are you going with this? They change the equipment so much. The equipment, the matting, the safety so that you can do, but we’re already at the limit of what the human body structurally can sustain if you’re mechanically off. It’s just the way it is.


JESSICA: Mhmm. I think that’s I mean when you were saying that I’m thinking of what when I was an intern at the X Games and I was driving someone a moto-X guys to the hospital for surgery after he fell off the side of one of the jumps. And you know he was saying the problem with the course it wasn’t even a problem with what they were doing was the course was totally unforgiving. So you couldn’t even be a tiny bit off and you would be literally broken. And when I heard you say that, I flashed back to that memory and I think of doing a triple twisting yurchenko or a 2.5. Like if you are a little bit off, unless you’re Aly Raisman who apparently has 500 extra ligaments in her knees and is the strongest human on earth, you can’t, the human body can’t sustain that amount of power and torque. It just you can’t be off. It’s a totally unforgiving skill.


LARRY: Exactly, can’t be off. When you’re off, that’s when the force just becomes multi factorial high you know? [Inaudible] a little bit higher, like doubling, tripling hard when you’re off. It’s just amazing. So that’s the issue. So it’s something they’re going to have to deal with. And we’ll see. I think eventually that they’re really going to have to start to reorganize the way we look at the sport so we don’t have to keep changing it so much. But that’s from the artistry and you know, maybe not the Olympics having to do compulsories but it wouldn’t be bad to put back compulsories. [Inaudible] have to work the basics more. You know so they’ll [inaudible]. Look at the guys. Guys spend most of their time doing mental routines. They can’t do, they cannot do the hours of skills the girls do. It’s just impossible. The guys would break. They know that, so they spend much much much more doing mental routines.


JESSICA: Yeah I was just looking somebody at Michigan was on the show and was telling us they only work out- their workouts are three hours a day. And I was like what? You have Sam Mikulak there and you won NCAAs and half the US team’s coming from there. How is it possible you only work out three hours a day. And I was like oh they must work out really really really smart. And it’s not just numbers. Totally different mindset.


LARRY: Yeah mental routines for them because they know. There’s four events on upper extremities, four events on their shoulders. Sign them up for putting velcro in their shoulders to [inaudible] shoulder surgery. You know why [inaudible]. So I mean it’s incredible. So that’s why. And we’re getting better doing that. They’re being smarter about training and it’s showing how we’re doing internationally with the men’s team. The men’s team is awesome. They’re really up and coming. They’ve become much more intense with their training and better with their training and smarter with their training to the point that now with [inaudible] they are contenders. They’re legit. They are a legit team that is recognized now and made a statement well enough, consistently enough, that not only are we world challengers, but working better. You know so that’s great. I give them tons of credit.


JESSICA: So I want to ask you one more questions about- a couple, I think there’s some myths about ACL injuries. And are there things that you come across where you think people believe this and this is a total myth about ACL injuries?


LARRY: Well I mean there’s a lot of debate on literature. There some studies that say because you’re a female and you menstruate there’s receptors on the ligaments that depend upon your cycles that make you tear your ACL. There’s that thought process. So there’s all these little issues you know that pop up here and there. And the bottom line is it’s biomechanical and your alignment of your knees and ankles to your knees, the shape of the bulge in your knees matches with the way your femur is shaped and the way the ACL bends. It’s the biomechanics of your body and the efficiency upon which you are able to do those biomechanics that predisposes you to injury. So some of it is because a female has wider hips because their pelvis has to widen at the appropriate time as it goes through puberty so they can have babies. You can tell male skeleton from the female skeleton based upon the pelvis for example. Because the [inaudible] changes so the baby can fit through the pelvis, ok. So as that happens, as it widens, the angle down toward the knees can change and puts more stress for the knees. And therefore women have a greater propensity because of these angles for ACL tears than men. It’s not because they’re women and she’s a girl. It’s because biomechanically there’s structural predisposition because of the shape of the typical female body. Some have increased mechanics that favor tearing than others. Just like some male athletes do. Some male athletes they tear their ACLs three, four times. And other athletes could suffer greater challenges to their body and never tear their ACL. Like you said like an Aly Raisman.


JESSICA: And what about I’m wondering about the allograft versus autograft. Peng Peng Lee, one of the great Canadians tore her ACL and then recently she took like a year and a half off to come back. And then they found out she’s having problems and it turned out the allograft- so for our listeners this is when you use a cadaver’s ligament as opposed to your own from your own body, taking a piece of tendon and making it into a ligament from your own body. It failed. So it disintegrated. It wasn’t even there I guess when they did the MRI. What you know there’s an outcry including me, I was like why would you ever do an allograft when if it fails you could potentially come back faster but if the allograft fails then you have double the time of recovery. Why would anyone do this? What are your thoughts on this? And it my outrage completely [LAUGHS] completely wrong? What do you think?


LARRY: Poop happens, you know? And you know I mean it does. And so what I always tell the gymnast is my preference if I had a preference it would be a hamstring graft because I don’t want to take anything from the knee that may affect or give her patella tendonitis, take a patella tendon graft. But the doctor has to know how to quadruple that hamstring and make it a stronger graft. But so the key is is that you go to a surgeon that has great success with athletes, with ACLs, they do them every day that they’re in surgery. That’s the goal is yep ACLs. And they have a great success rate. And you never have a surgeon that has a great success rate doing it one way and ask them to do it differently. So if this surgeon is great at allografts then I’m doing allografts. If this surgeon is great at doing the patella tendons, then the patella tendon. If this surgeon’s great at hamstrings, have him to hamstring. So the bottom line is don’t talk to me about statistics nationally or whatever, let the success of that individual person, that surgeon, he’s the one doing the surgery on me, or she is. If that female or surgeon or male surgeon is capable of having great outcomes, that’s the surgeon I want. You see what I’m saying?


JESSICA: Yes, yes


LARRY: So it’s an individual case. And like I said, if she were to have a different, who knows. I mean it wasn’t because it was a poor graft. It was some time of defect or what.




LARRY: There’s always always always that very small percentage and you never want to be that very small percentage [inaudible]. Poop happens. It sucks but it happens, that’s for sure.


JESSICA: So two more ACL myth buster questions. You know when Shawn Johnson hurt her knee skiing, a lot of people were quick to blame her vault landings. Oh because of her vault landings and her ACL was already weakened and so that’s why instantly it tore. Is it true that there’s sprains?


LARRY: What the-


JESSICA: No I read-


LARRY: Oh my gosh she went skiing and she did something. Hello, no. Her gymnastics had absolutely nothing to do with the fact. She was skiing, her ski got caught or whatever. Nothing to do with her gymnastics. Heck no. No. No. No. That is- [inaudible] huge huge huge number of ACL tears. I mean no. Her gymnastics had nothing to do with that predispose. Not at all. Crazy.


JESSICA: Yeah this is why we do myth busters so we can get to the bottom of these things.


LARRY: Absolutely


JESSICA: So the other one is they’ve just discovered this fourth cruciate ligament-


LARRY: Wait a second. Wait. No there’s another issue here.


JESSICA: Oh tell us

LARRY: I don’t even know. I’m having a hard time here. I’ve got to think about this. Yeah. How did Shawn Johnson tear her ACL? She tore her meniscus. There wasn’t an ACL issue there, her ACL was fine. So to go beyond that, she didn’t tear her ACL [LAUGHS] when she was skiing. She tore her meniscus for god’s sake. Ok so, wake up whoever came up with that myth really was hoping something because her ACL was fine. It was just a meniscus tear.


JESSICA: Oh there you go. Another myth busted. Thank you.


LARRY: Yes. No worries




LARRY: It took me a second. I was like what are you talking about?




LARRY: I’m getting old, so. Everything [inaudible]. No it was just her meniscus.


JESSICA: Ok so there’s this fourth cruciate ligament that has been discovered and it seems like some people have it and some people don’t.


LARRY: Oh my goodness gracious. Ok there is no fourth. They’ve been talking about this thing for decades. You could go back literally for decades and they’ve been talking about this little homolog of the ACL. So it’s just getting some more press. That’s been around for decades. So that will bust that myth right now. There’s researchers and [inaudible] stuff, but that’s been around for decades.


JESSICA: Another myth busted. Love it.


LARRY: It’s been around for decades, yeah.


JESSICA: Have you ever come across anybody that has it?


LARRY: It doesn’t matter [LAUGHS]. I wouldn’t know it if I had [LAUGHS]. Put it this way, no one on the national team or no one in my medical career or no one that I’ve dealt with has had an issue with that situation with the ACL. So it’s research based. It’s not practically applied at this point. And it’s not a standard, it’s not involved with the standard of care of the athlete at this point. How does that sound. It’s research based. There’s ways to go. So on that. So the future will tell us what that little thingy has to do with the total function of the ACL. We’ll find out.


JESSICA: Something to look forward to.


LARRY: There you go


JESSICA: Another question is about toradol. So this is something, for our listeners, it’s commonly used in the NFL. There are claims that it has been used by NCAA teams during regular season. There’s other claims no no no one would ever use that till it’s the day of NCAA finals for a senior. And what toradol why it’s in the news is because it can mask the pain and cause internal bleeding so someone could have internal bleeding a concussion or an internal organ and not know it. So that is what makes it really dangerous. What are your thoughts on the use of this in gymnastics if it’s ever used?


LARRY: You can always look at my thoughts in 1991 and just check [inaudible] gymnastics journal because it’s published there. [LAUGHS] 1991 use of toradol and the research that we did and the study that we did with the use of it in gymnasts so it was fully focused in 1991 with the gymnasts. And we know that based upon that is that if you give a gymnast an injection- toradol is just a masked [inaudible] anti-inflammatory drug. It’s just a [inaudible] anti-inflammatory. It’s the same as advil. It’s like liquid advil. Giving someone liquid advil. It’s just a good pain relieving effect. It’s just used for [inaudible]. It’s used for kidney stones quite commonly it’s used for during halftimes or pregames a little extra pain boost. But we know that if you give someone toradol for too many days in a row, we stopped using it so much. Not because of all the other stuff too. It’s mainly because too much toradol for more than 3-5 days can blow out your kidneys. Can really affect kidney function. So that’s why toradol doesn’t get used very much, because of it’s mystique. It’s a good pain killer, it’s [inaudible] pain killer. It doesn’t give you the narcotic effect like a vicodin, norcal would. It’s just a [inaudible] anti-inflammatory, same as advil. And but if you began injectable, what we know is that it can, a scale of 1-10 and a gymnast is a scale of 9 or 10 was like take me to the hospital because I’m dying here versus a 6 or 5 or 7, this hurts enough to affect my performance, so a 3 where 3 or 4 where it hurts enough but it won’t affect my performance. What toradol will do in general is if given, 20-30 minutes before they start their warm up, it has to be done before they start to warm up, for the medicine to actually get into their body and actually become effective and it will only last 4 hours to be effective. During that time, the pain will go down from the pain is at a level that will affect my performance to the pain is going to go down to a level that it should not affect my performance. But the bottom line is they will all all all still feel the pain. You can never give them a toradol injection and it gives them no pain. They all still feel the pain. And that’s the data shows that I published back in 1991 is that it would take the pain level [inaudible]. And the reason I did it is because in 1988 at Olympic Trials they often [inaudible] nerve blocks. And two of the athletes, one male one female, had to withdraw from Olympic Trials in 1988 because too much medicine was given and they had blocked the nerve and they couldn’t feel their foot on the ground. Couldn’t even feel their body part touch the ground, so they had to withdraw. And so at that point the [inaudible] that I swore would never ever ever take away the pain to the point someone can’t feel the pain. Or be nerve blocks. Never do that. Never do that. So we use toradol but not much. Not much.


JESSICA: You know gymnastics fans are so fiercely protective of the gymnasts that they always want  to know how could this injury be prevented or who’s responsible for this injury. What could’ve been done?


LARRY: [LAUGHS] Who’s to blame?


JESSICA: Exactly who’s to blame for this, that’s my favorite gymnast. And so I’ve always wanted to ask you kind of if you could do one thing, like implement one program or make every single gym in the whole world do one thing to make gymnastics safer or to prevent more injuries, if you could wave a magic wand and everyone would start doing this one thing, what would it be?


LARRY: You’re not going to believe this. You know what it would be?




LARRY: Bring back compulsories.


JESSICA: I love that.


LARRY: I’m sure that wasn’t the answer you were expecting.




LARRY: But that’s the answer I’m giving is to bring back compulsories. Injury rates started to go up was between 1996-2000. And it’s because of the simple fact that back then I’m thinking ok they get rid of compulsories, was not a fan of them getting rid of it to begin with because compulsories was the basics. Compulsories was working the details of the basics. Toe point, hand alignment, split level, flexibility. It was all basics you know. And but because figure skating the Olympics before got rid of their figures because of the simple fact that it was money, because no one wanted to come watch the figures. So no one wanted to watch the figures, no one wanted to watch our compulsories, they said alright you know we’re getting rid of the compulsories because there’s no money in it. So I said ok, let’s see what happens. We’re training 28 hours a week or what have you. We’re doing eight routines. Now 12 of those 28 hours generally was compulsories to do those four routines. So now if we only do the four optional routines, well that’s great because now then the kids aren’t in the gym as long. Now they only have to be in the gym say 18 hours or 16 hours in the gym. Because now they have four routines, they’re all optionals so they’re harder routines on their bodies right? So what happens? Nope. Not a single coach- I mean I’m sure there were coaches that did it properly. But the vast majority of coaches and the way the trend obviously went was here we’ve gone from eight routines to only four, we’re getting rid of the four routines that are less stressful to the body and actually force people to work detail and attention to basics. And we’re going to keep the same number of hours. Now we’re doing twice as many hours in a sense. That’s probably a good 1/3 as many added on. So like I said now we’re adding in an additional 12 hours that we just sort of got rid of for those optional harder, more difficult skills on their bodies. So all we did was increase the amount of stress to their body and decrease the amount that we actually work the basics. And wa-la, we have a recipe for disaster. And that’s when all the injuries really started to come up. And so that’s what I think. That’s the magic question. Bring back compulsories. In a way force the gyms to decrease their use of optional training and increase their use of basic training.


JESSICA: Wow. I totally didn’t expect that answer, and I totally agree. I think that’s I mean I kind of loved watching compulsories because you could really differentiate who had the basics down. And I think they were beautiful. Elite compulsories were beautiful. Like 92, ugh. I could watch those over and over again. So we’ve talked previously on the show about ballet and how ballet can actually help protect the joints. And I know you’ve kind of talked about that, the importance of turnout of hip turnout. Can you just tell people why ballet kind of can help prevent injuries? It’s not just something that makes gymnasts pretty, but is actually useful.


LARRY: Ballet’s very useful because the artistry that’s involved in ballet and because it’s compulsories. It has to do with form and function and alignment, using proper technique. It’s all about proper technique. So yeah ballet is hugely important because we don’t have compulsories. You know we need to get back to basics. We need to get back to where does your knee line up with you first and second toe, how does your knee hip and toe align, and proper presentation for alignment and posture so that the forces are generated efficiently and fluently though your body in a decreased mechanical way of stress and increased mechanical way of efficiency. That’s what 100 years of ballet you can say has transformed and trying to get that mechanical alignment of beauty and grace. And that’s what we’re talking about. And we get that beauty, transcend that beauty from dance and gymnastics. Lilia Podkopayeva-


JESSICA: Loved her


LARRY: What is she known for?


JESSICA: Power and extreme grace


LARRY: Extreme grace. And what did she accomplish that no other gymnast has accomplished since then


JESSICA: Won Worlds then won the Olympics right after it


LARRY: 1995 all around World champion, 1996 all around Olympic champion. No one’s done it since. What have they dropped since then? Compulsories. What was she known for?  Her beauty and grace. What made her a double champion? Compulsories. Because of her ability, like you said, full of grace. Full of grace. So that’s what changed Svetlana Boginskaya was when she went through her beauty and grace and tried to bring that dance into it. That’s what Svetlana was known for too. But that was 91, even 92. But she wasn’t back to back you know. She wasn’t able to do that. But Podkopayeva was in 95 and 96. Podkopayeva right there, beauty and grace will win.


JESSICA: I love that. She’s one of my all time favorites.

LARRY: There you go


JESSICA: Compulsories. When I was at Worlds, I’ve been to two Worlds. And the thing that’s driven me nuts both times being at Worlds is seeing someone injured, two times I’ve seen someone injured where’s it’s a head first injury. And the coaches it seems to me the coaches are embarrassed and they just pick the gymnast up and carry them off the podium without immobilizing the neck, without checking for a neck injury, and even with ankle or leg injuries just picking them up with no assessment. Just you’re injured, move you as fast as you can. And I was like oh my god it makes me crazy watching that. Crazy. Do you think there should be some kind of again we’re going back to the fans wanting try to prevent things, don’t make it worse than it already is. Do you think there should be some kind of FIG medical staff that has a standard procedure like we don’t move someone until there’s an injury assessment? I mean that’s so basic.


LARRY: We do that in the states. I mean if our national team they know it doesn’t matter how much time it takes, we take care of the athlete first. FIG is a lot of problems when it comes to medical and yeah no that’s a hard one to comment on because there’s so many. That’s like a whole other hour conversation about FIG medical. So there’s a lot of issues that the FIG could do from the medical standpoint that I wish they would. But it aint gonna happen with the person in charge as it is right now. You know there’s a lot, and there’s a lot of doctors training from all over the world that would love to see changes happen. And I’ve tried and tried and tried and it’s difficult. And eventually things will change. As the structures just like the code of points and everything there’s some old guards that need to just change and things will change. But yeah again what we talked about before is the athlete comes first and TV comes second and everything else comes second. The athlete comes first, time is frozen, and it’s irrelevant how long it takes to take care of that person. As long as you do it efficiently, effectively, and safely for the athlete. So getting them up and moving them because you’re embarrassed or whatever, what the hell is that.


JESSICA: Oh my god it drives me nuts. I wanted to run onto the jump over the side and be like don’t touch her! You have not assessed the injury yet!


LARRY: Yeah part of the issue is the coach is also [inaudible] you can understand the coach knows the athlete and has probably seen them take that fall five, six times before in warmups. So the coach has seen that fall by that athlete over and over again and knows that athlete’s personality and knows the way the athlete is when they’re hurt, knows the way the athlete is when they’re not hurt, and knows some athletes might be more drama than others. And so we as outsiders from that relationship, it’s hard to pass that judgment because you don’t know is the person [inaudible] or is the coach understand that’s a normal process for that athlete. They’ve done it many times before, that exact same skill landing that exact same way. And they’re fine. So it’s hard, it’s very very very very hard, unless we have data that shows that that coach has actually moved truly injured [inaudible] truly injured athletes. Because it’s hard. It’s not an easy thing to be a bystander and make those judgment calls.


JESSICA: Very true


LARRY: Without knowing the [inaudible] of the athlete, not knowing the history of how they’ve dealt with that skill in the past. Not to be protective, but to make sure the big picture.


JESSICA: Yep that’s very true. That’s very true. A lesson to everyone in the gymternet including me can learn from right there. Thank you so much for spending all this time. We’ve really appreciated it.


LARRY: It’s nice talking to you.


JESSICA: It was fantastic.


LARRY: No worries, no worries. I hope it doesn’t get me in trouble and I hope it was ok [LAUGHS].


JESSICA: Thank you for everything you do for all of the gymnasts we love.


LARRY: I appreciate it, thank you very much. You have a great night.


JESSICA: Ok you too.


LARRY: Bye now




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit That’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.


JESSICA: We have a very special guest next week. An NCAA judge who has been judging for a very long time. So I want to know from you guys what have you always wanted to ask an NCAA judge. Keep it clean. Try to [LAUGHS] control yourselves a little bit. But let me know what you want to know. What you want to know about the rules, what do you want to know about the changes. And we’re also going to have Jill Hicks on. She has some data to share with us about early recruiting. She has polled some coaches about early recruiting. So I’d like to know if you guys have any questions about recruiting. What you know if there’s changes you want to see, if there’s things you want to know about what coaches like to see, let me know. And I will ask those questions. Blythe will ask those questions this week. In addition we have some very special guests calling in from Glasgow from the Glasgow World Cup. One of them has been on before. And you guys enjoyed it very much. So look forward to that. Send us your NCAA questions at Or tweet us @gymcastic. Or of course go to our Facebook page. And remember to watch Maroney on Bones and get up the next morning and draft your fantasy team. If you love the show, please give us the holiday gift of reviewing us or recommending us to a friend. We would absolutely love that. Thank you guys so much for listening and we’ll see you guys next week.



[expand title=”Episode 64: Glasgow World Cup & NCAA 2014 Previews”]

UNCLE TIM: I think it sent me into a manic stage, and I after that, baked 144 Christmas cookies roughly. So you know. Rioting, baking.


JESSICA: Like you do when you’re really excited for your favorite gymnast.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly.




JESSICA: Today is an all news show about the Glasgow World Cup and NCAA previews.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 64 for December 11, 2013. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym


JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast ever in the history of humankind, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet.


UNCLE TIM: So Jess, in a few seconds we’re going to talk about the Glasgow World Cup. But before we do, you got an inside scoop from someone the gymternet knows and loves. What did you find out?


JESSICA: Well, I talked to Cordelia Price who you guys know is Ebee’s aunt. And she goes to all the meets. And we were going to you know I recorded an interview with her but we had a bad phone connection. I just could not make the connection sound good in post production. So luckily I have a fabulous memory. Luckily I take copious notes. So you know how we all love this meet because it’s cutting edge for how to put on a gymnastics meet. So what they do is they know gymnastics fans are visual people and so they use visual displays to show you what’s going on in the meet. Last year they had a picture of each gymnast. And they would show the leader with their picture and the would show kind of a bowl filled with marbles if you will. And you could see that’s how much the leader has. Their score is 14 it’s filled up halfway. Then they would show the next competitor’s picture and they’d say here’s the points they need. And then when their score came up it would fill up the competitor’s jar. And if that jar got more full you could tell oh, they’ve beat the other person, you can see their score. It was just very innovative, very different. They also always showed the rankings. They had this animation to show the scores. And they didn’t do any of that this year. There’s none of that stuff. None of the stuff that made this so unique. One of the other things they did was they had the competitors come out and do a dance when they got introduced. So it was like So You Think You Can Dance. The competitor would come out, they’d turn some music on, they’d stand there and dance for a second, then they would turn on new music and the next competitor would come out. Totally innovative right? That would make you remember someone. Oh that’s the person that did this dance move or whatever. It’s so cool. None of that this year. So she was kind of bummed about that. I mean she did say she really really wanted to make a point when I asked her is there anything else you want to talk about or want people to know, she said British Gymnastics does an amazing job and also she said the Scottish people and Scottish gymnastics were fantastic. It’s just still the people the fans, it’s one of her favorite meets. Still without all this stuff, she just absolutely loves it and loves going to Scotland for this meet. She also made a point of saying how great the fans were. And also the gymnasts. I don’t know if you saw that two of the gymnasts, Teal and Catherine Lyons, both tweeted about meeting her. Not the other way around. They tweeted about meeting her. They were like Ebee’s aunt just said I did a good job, oh my god I’m so honored. I was like that is the coolest thing ever. Like I just was like that is so sweet. I mean it’s just yeah. I mean so that was one of the examples of how amazing everybody is there. So she just said they were amazing hosts. It’s just a fantastic country to visit and put on a great meet. They had a dinner afterward for all of the competitors. So it was a time for them to have a meal after a long competition. But also it’s like a little country exchange. Like a cultural exchange. So it’s a time for them to get to know each other. Their families can come. So Cordelia was able to go with Ebee and have a meal. And all of the competitors exchanged gifts. So you bring a gift from your federation gives you gifts or your sponsors give you things to give to the other gymnasts. I was like what did she get what did she give? So she said that people had pins, she had pins and pins from USA Gymnastics, things that said USA Gymnastics. And for us I’m sure as Americans I was kind of like eh that’s ok. But then I’m thinking oh my god we’re like the USSR of the 80s right now. Like we’re the greatest country of gymnastics right now. So if I had a pin from the 80s that said or like a jacket or an umbrella. If I had a scrap of toilet paper that said USSR Gymnastics on it, I would still have it framed. I can understand how that would be pretty exciting to walk back to your gym and be like oh my USA Gymnastics umbrella that I’m sporting in Japan. Oh yeah yeah I’m special. And so she said Ebee got some headphones and cool stuff like that. So she just said it was really nice and they all had time to hang out and she said that Ebee and Ruby got to kind of bond about both going into NCAA gymnastics together. And she’s really excited about that. So that was kind of cool to hear. Then in terms of the meet she said Popa, Roxana Popa from Spain was a big crowd favorite. And Ferrari she said she’s just she’s a workhorse. She’s just getting better and better with age. And that she just keeps looking better with each competition. And then she said that Carlotta Ferrari looked like she was limping and she was hurt a little bit after her vault. And then in warmups but then after floor she really was limping off and then crying afterward. So she was a little worried that she was hurt. And-


UNCLE TIM: Do you think that Vanessa Ferrari could be the next Chusovitina?


JESSICA: Oh totally


UNCLE TIM: In terms of longevity


JESSICA: Hands down. I think she’s on that path. The interesting thing is I was thinking about it exactly what you’re saying and I was like oh no she wasn’t- like Chusovitina started out as an Olympic champion. But Ferrari I mean she’s been a world champion. So actually I’m totally contradicting myself. Yes. I totally think she could. Because I feel like you have to have that level when you’re young because most people don’t get that- they don’t really progress from their peak afterward. They only go down. And Chusovitina has been at the top then she’s just sort of stayed in the top 10 level. But Ferrari the same thing. She was world champion and she’s still staying in that top 10 and I’d say she’s even better. Because I’d say on beam, probably beam and floor, she can contend on two events. For Chuso it’s pretty much down to one event now. But yeah. I totally think she could. In terms of the competition, Ebee fell on her vault. And I asked Cordelia about that and she said well just from watching she kept kind of running out, falling forward, stepping forward out of her amanar in warm ups. So she thinks she kind of overcorrected and that’s why she fell on her amanar because she said she’s never ever fallen in competition on that. So she was just shocked that Ebee fell on that. She just kind of fell on her side. It sounds like she was just over correcting.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So one thing I found interesting watching the video was last week when we talked to Larry Nasser he talked about how Martha has grown and learned from her mistakes. Well I think the same could be said about Donna Strauss. So you know how most of us have seen the CNN documentary on the Parkettes. And you’ll probably recall the phrase “quitters try” right? So that I mean the documentary portrayed Donna as a rather churlish woman. But after Ebee’s fall, Donna wasn’t talking about quitters tries. And she was calm and smiling. And I was like wow this is a totally different side of Donna Strauss than the one we saw on the CNN documentary. So I feel like maybe Donna Strauss has also learned from her mistakes in the past and has become a better coach too.

JESSICA: Definitely. I totally agree with that. And you know what’s interesting is so I asked her why Allentown is so full of engineers and she was like oh there’s Bell Labs here and there’s AT&T and there’s all these engineers that work in the digital phone whatever that’s called now. The interwebs, yes. So the reason I’m bringing this is up is because I feel like this is a super educated family that Ebee comes from. And if someone pulled the kind of stuff on Ebee that Donna Strauss pulled in the 80s, like when who was it that fell on floor in the finals? 89 Worlds? When she had that cats leotard. Cats routine. She


UNCLE TIM: You’re talking about Hope Spivey but are you thinking of Kim Kelly when she did her triple turn and fell?


JESSICA: No I’m thinking of when Hope Spivey came off the floor after falling on floor, and I think she could have medaled at that point. She walks off the floor totally upset with herself of course and Donna Strauss looks at her and says “You just threw away a world championship” and walked away from her. And I’m just like I don’t think Ebee’s family would put up with her being treated like that. So I’m agreeing with your assessment from where we stand it seems like things have changed with the Parkettes as well.


UNCLE TIM: So going back to the competition, Elizabeth Price wasn’t the only one that fell. Iordache, Larisa Iordache, threw the two fulls on beam. The first one’s a back handspring stepout tucked full and the other one’s a round off layout full, and she fell on the second, the layout full. But I was so impressed because her foot slipped off the beam and then she almost saved it. She was really close to staying on that stupid beam. What did you think when you saw it Jess? Do you think she could’ve saved it?


JESSICA: That’s the thing. This is what Cordelia was talking about this two, like her foot went then she almost made it. I don’t know it’s hard to say because you have so much torque going into that, if your momentum is already taking you off, I don’t know. I’m just happy to see with that much difficulty honestly it’s not really going to matter if she falls. To be honest.



JESSICA: You know, she still won.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah she did. So I mean the myth that if you have an amanar you’re always going to win isn’t necessarily true.


JESSICA: Mhm but if you have two fulls in your routine and start from a 25 then you could still win.




UNCLE TIM: The other, speaking of vault, Asuka Teramoto also unveiled a new vault, a handspring rudi. And we’ve seen several gymnasts compete this. For instance, Alicia Sacramone and Oksana Chusovitina. What did you think of Asuka’s?


JESSICA: It’s a little scary.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah didn’t have a lot of amplitude.


JESSICA: Yeah and it had a lot of torque going into the ground, which terrifies me. So you know hopefully it’s better in practice and this was a fluke.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. For our listeners who did not watch, coming in first was Larisa Iordache of Romania with a 57.932, second was Elizabeth Price from the United States with a 57.365, and in third was Vanessa Ferrari with a 56.633. On the men’s side, Oleg Verniaev of Ukraine won with an 89.798, Daniel Purvis came in second with an 89.131, and Andrei Lichovistky of Belarus came in third with an 88.597. So Jess, there was a little I don’t know how to put it, a little-


JESSICA: Kerfuffle?


UNCLE TIM: Yes a kerfuffle on the parallel bars. What happened?


JESSICA: So it sounded like that well so I watched this and I also talked to Cordelia about it, that from the crowd it looked like he had just went up to his handstand and just jumped off. And she was like well what happened was that the equipment failed. And I was like well how did he get a penalty? If the coaches didn’t set it right, this has happened before I think it was Sam Mikulak where who was it where they shook the bar to show I’m in a handstand and this thing’s loose and the coach came over and tightened it. But in this case what it looks like happened was the equipment actually failed. So they tightened it but it came loose and you can see that one of the bars, it just one side, it turns out so his setting is totally off. Because the pbars rotate in and out, that’s how the settings work, so up and down but in and out. So one of them rotates out and he couldn’t do it, it’s not his setting. So it looks like he wasn’t faulted for this because it was equipment, not the coaches they had tightened it all the way. And so the thing with this is you know Cordelia also brought this up because there’s so many falls on beam on the women’s side. And I was like why do you think that was, what’s going on? And she was like well you know they use this equipment, she was like I don’t know if this had anything to do with it but they use this Continental equipment. And a lot of the competitors said it was really hard. And then Oleg had this problem. So I’ve never heard of Continental before. Apparently the gymnasts were polled afterwards to ask how they liked the equipment. And I don’t know what the result of that was but it sounds like they did not like the floor at all. It was really hard. And then the fact that this was an equipment failure during someone’s routine, eeek. These look like the old Spieth pbars with that weird cranky handle thing.




JESSICA: You know what I’m saying? I don’t know. So I’ve never heard of this company, I don’t know what’s going on, but it doesn’t look good for them. From where we’re standing right now, suspicious.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I agree. It was a little weird. So and Oleg we were talking about Oleg’s parallel bars routine, and he actually did not have a fall-less meet. He fell on pommel horse. So both the women’s and men’s winners fell on an event. But I guess I didn’t realize this, I always thought this was the end of the World Cup circuit but these are actually the meets that kick off the World Cup circuit. And so you know this is technically the beginning of the season. So I think we should expect mistakes and also most of these gymnasts aren’t accustomed to competing twice in the span of a week. So they’re probably a little bit tired. They’re not necessarily used to it. So some mistakes at this point aren’t that big of a deal. You know who landed his vault this week Jess?


JESSICA: I can only guess it’s our friend John Orozco.


UNCLE TIM: It’s true. He landed his vault. He had much straighter legs. His hands both made it fairly safely to the vault. But he fell on high bar.


JESSICA: No no no


UNCLE TIM: So maybe he does need glasses, I don’t know.


JESSICA: This could be. We’re going to have to discuss this with him at length.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah because I was thinking last week oh well I mean it’s hard to make the argument that he needs glasses if he’s able to catch the little thin high bar while he’s going a tkachev full over the bar. If he can see that there’s no problem. But this week he missed that skill. So I don’t know what’s going on with him. Yeah.


JESSICA: Can we just before we finish with this meet. So did you have a second riot in the span of two weeks? Did you set a tiny car on fire? And roll out in the middle of the street?


UNCLE TIM: No I did not. I think it sent me into a manic stage, and I after that, baked 144 Christmas cookies roughly. So you know. Rioting, baking.


JESSICA: Like you do when you’re really excited for your favorite gymnast.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. I’ll mail them all to Oleg.




JESSICA: So I asked Cordelia if there’s anything else she wanted to talk about because I was so excited to talk to her, is there anything else you want people to know. And she was like yeah, I do want to- she wanted to get something off her chest which is unusual for her because she’s very factual. She’s an engineer. She went to MIT. So she’s very concise and specific and so she said you know what really makes me mad that everybody still is stuck on calling the American Cup the Scam Cup. She was like you know it’s been a World Cup part of the World Cup series just like Glasgow for several years now. It is not just an American meet with only American judges boosting up Americans. It is a legitimate World Cup meet with international judges. It’s part of the circuit, and people really need to get over that and stop talking about how this has been the place where America sets up their next Olympian. You know it’s not that meet anymore. It really is something different. So she’s right about that. She really is. The Scam Cup days are over. It’s not our fault that the Americans happen to be better than everybody right now. So they win. You know you have to be in the top eight to be invited. You don’t just get to pick. It’s the FIG I think that extends- you have to be in the top eight in the world to get an invite to a World Cup, so it’s not like Steve Penny is looking through a list, puts the worst gymnasts in the world in a hat and then picks their names out.




UNCLE TIM: It’s true. But I think back in the day though there was reason to believe that there was totally some bias. For instance I was reading a 1999 American Cup article from International Gymnast. And they wrote-


JESSICA: The New York Times of gymnastics magazines


UNCLE TIM: Totally. They said one American judge who was promised anonymity offered the following explanation. We don’t hammer the foreign guys, he said. We’re just lenient on our guys. Speaking about the American guys. In short, the judges would never give a gift to a foreign gymnasts, but put more bluntly another America judge said I wasn’t sent here to help the Bulgarian. The Bulgarian referring to Jordan Jovtchev back in the day.


JESSICA: He doesn’t need any help thank you very much.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So there was some bias back in the day I would say.


JESSICA: Yes. Totally. Agreed. Oh my god that quote is scandalous. Do you see that’s why IG is the New York Times of gymnastics. They get the scoops. But I yeah I mean I think totally right, totally valid. But it’s like in gymnastics just like the dark days of the 80s where which and the 2000 which Larry Nassar talked about last week. It’s hard when something so blatant and terrible happens and so unfair. That lingers for a long time until you know you get that taste out of your mouth. So.


UNCLE TIM: It’s true.


JESSICA: Yeah. So hopefully that’ll move on. Ok let’s talk about espoir.


UNCLE TIM: So it was really dominated by Catherine Lyons. Espoir is kind of like the I would say like the junior nationals kind of for them. And she won pretty much every gold medal possible. What did you think of her performance Jess?


JESSICA: You know how I love her, oh my god. I love her. She’s the second coming. She’s the greatest thing since sliced bread, oh my god. I love her love her love her love her. I’m so biased about her and love her so much and her choreography and her skills. And her fierceness. That I can’t even, she could probably trip and fall during the middle of her floor routine and I wouldn’t notice. That’s how awesome she is. And speaking of which, I took that out of I had to cut that out for time with Larry Nassar’s interview, but he talked about how ballet and artistry can be used to hide from the judges your weaknesses. And that’s how I feel about her. Like she could really have a mistake and I wouldn’t notice because I’m so blinded by her amazing elegance in every other way. So I think she’s the greatest thing ever. Her floor is transcendent. Just look at the audience while she’s doing her floor, they’re like ooooh what’s happening, we’re in the presence of greatness, should I mark this moment on the calendar oh my god can I still feel my legs. Then she does a huge double pike. Boom drops the mic, that’s it.


UNCLE TIM: I think a lot of people agree with you. A lot of her Facebook fans were also saying the same thing, so. Catherine Lyons is the next big thing. Who would you say would win between Catherine Lyons and Bailey Key if they were head to head? Who do you think would win?


JESSICA: Well Bailey Key would win because she has way more difficulty, but Catherine Lyons would win anyone who she would win the heart of Podkopayeva award. Which means it’s the greater difficulty amongst the true gym nerds that Podkopayeva award always trumps difficulty.


UNCLE TIM: Gotcha, ok


JESSICA: I’m glad you followed that totally strung together train of thought that is my mind [LAUGHS]. Can we talk about how freaking awesome the British juniors are, dancing their asses off on floor?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I mean they’re quite impressive. I’m trying to think where’s this all coming from. It seems like the program is just picking up steam and it seems like it started primarily with Beth Tweddle. And yeah it’s just continued. They really seem to be a program that’s blossoming.


JESSICA: Yeah like the other one a lot of people were talking about, and Cordelia mentioned her too because she watched this meet, was Teal Grindle. The cutest name ever. Doesn’t that name just sound like a little elf who steals cookies? Teal Grindle! [LAUGHS] I just love her name! And she lives in a hobbit house and oh I just love her name. Anyway. So she really made a name for herself I think at this meet. And put everyone on notice that she’s an up and comer. And honestly between her and Lyons, their floor routines are just non stop dance. They do not stop. They don’t rest in the corner, they don’t rest before they go into the corner, they dance hard the whole time. There’s no easy lying on the floor laying down, extend my arm, catch my breath roll over, no. No no no no no. No breaks, no rest. I feel like they should get bonus for that. Honestly how do you think you should differentiate. If you’re a judge, we’ll ask Dean on this when we talk to him later this week. Someone who dances hard the whole routine and someone who just does what’s required and basically lays on the floor the rest of the routine but has equally hard tumbling. You know who I’m talking about, NCAA season coming up.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I don’t know. I think I talked about this last year with Bridget Sloan because she’s had a 15 second extended floor sequence. And then she got up after it and choked on her double pike. And so I feel like the judges might judge you more harshly if you sit on the floor and do this extended sequence on the floor and then get up and mess up your tumbling. They’re not going to be as lenient. I mean judges are human. So I think they will take that into consideration who was doing like an 80s aerobic routine [LAUGHS]. Jazzercising and you know, hit all their tumbling. They’re probably going to look on that routine a little bit more favorably.


JESSICA: Well I think we should introduce a new bonus for dancing your ass off the entire time and call it the Jabbawockeez bonus.


UNCLE TIM: Why Jabbawockeez?


JESSICA: You don’t know the jabbawockeez? How are we even friends. You don’t know who Edna is from The Incredibles and now you don’t know the Jabbawockeez? The dance group.


UNCLE TIM: Oh I was thinking of the children’s literature.


JESSICA: No no no, no one knows what that is anymore.




JESSICA: That weirdo, did you have to remember that damn poem when you were a kid too? Did you have to memorize it?


UNCLE TIM: I didn’t memorize it, but yeah.


JESSICA: Oh god we had to memorize that crap. Terrible, drug induced weirdo, freakin what is it from? No it’s its own poem. The jabbawockeez right? I’m thinking it’s in the-


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s by Lewis Carroll and it’s from Through the Looking Glass


JESSICA: Through the Looking Glass yeah, not from the original, the girl that falls down the hole [LAUGHS].


UNCLE TIM: Alice in Wonderland


JESSICA: Thank you, thank you. See can’t remember the names of anything. Not just people. Books too. Girls who fall down a hole. [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: Moving on


JESSICA: Moving on. NCAA previews.


UNCLE TIM: Alright Jess. It is NCAA season more or less. We have a bunch of intrasquads going on right now. And a bunch of previews and exhibitions. And I know that you went to one. You went to the UCLA one right?


JESSICA: Yes. It is a mere 45 miles from my house, so yes I drive the hour there just to go watch. And it was a fun event. There was Kyla Ross was there with a whole posse. The gang of Orange County girls who came in and ran the show. And she was so cute she took pictures with a bazillion kids. And just over and over and over and over with a big smile and oh I just love her. So Nina Kim was there, an elite great. She went to WOGA. She was at Steve Nunno’s gym, Dynamo, in Oklahoma. Shannon Miller’s gym back in the day. She went to Utah. She, yes, we love Nina Kim. And she was selling her fabulous flower headbands, which you may have seen. They’re taking over every Instagram account of every elite you follow. You may have noticed those. The down moments were that Pinches, our beloved Pinches, has fractured her pinky toe. Aw. So she couldn’t do anything. [LAUGHS] She has a fractured pinky toe. Yeah. The other bummer was UCLA on beam. Yeah.


UNCLE TIM: What happened?


JESSICA: It was a horror show. Horrow show. Everyone fell. They were supposed to hit 10 in a row, series. They couldn’t get past I think four in a row. Just it was fall after fall after fall. They had to go like four or five rounds of this. And the only people that didn’t fall during that were Peszek and little Gerber, baby Gerber. Aisha Gerber’s sister from Canada. She was at Tokyo worlds team, she was on that team. And then people just kept falling including Danusia, which I was just like what is happening. I mean Spanny was probably just like freaking out. So she-


UNCLE TIM: What did she fall on?


JESSICA: Her front aerial


UNCLE TIM: The same skill she fell on at NCAAs?


JESSICA: I can’t remember what she fell on, I blocked that out.


UNCLE TIM: I think it’s the same skill.


JESSICA: Front aerial?


UNCLE TIM: Yep. In event finals she hit the transverse aerial and then fell on the aerial front walkover into her dismount.


JESSICA: It’s all blurred to me. I can’t remember. So yeah it was weird her arm was all off. Like one arm was it was almost like it kept going out of- it just I don’t know it was weird. So all the sudden Peszek just stops everything. Because Peszek you know how she can’t stand losing. She can’t handle it. So she stopped, brought everyone over in a huddle, and was just like no. This is not acceptable. We do not do that. And then they got it together. And they were a little bit better but they still couldn’t totally get it together. Then they did full routines. Which were a little bit better. Nush did her routine and it was just absolutely gorgeous. And she did her transverse aerial to immediate layout full off the side. Insane. I was sitting next to guys that never been to a gymnastics meet again and he like oh my god did you see that what is that thing? What is that? I’ve never seen anyone do that. And I was like no one’s ever done it before that we know of. And he was like does she get it named after her? I mean he was like out of control excited about that. It was totally adorable. And I was like yeah we’re excited too because that’s insane. So beam, horror show. Hopefully that will never happen again. Ok then ok bars was pretty exciting. They had first of all Peng Peng was walking around back and forth so that’s exciting after her ACL surgery she’s back. Then we had some full ins off bars, some double layouts, and then two Rays. So Sawa and Olivia Courtney are both doing toe on tkachevs. And then they went to floor. This is freaking cool. You watched the video right?




JESSICA: They split the team up into two separate teams, and they cut the music together so that one person will start a routine and then do one or two tumbling passes. Then a second person would come out on the floor while they were still doing the dance in their floor routine and then they would both like sort of dance into the next person’s routine. Then the first person would leave and the second person would continue the routine. Then at the end all the team members came out and all did a finishing pose all choreographed together too. It was so cool. I kind of was like oh this will be fun. I loved it. It was so much fun that my whole row was like this should be an NCAA event. They should add this. Or if men’s gymnastics wants to survive, men’s gymnastics needs to add this in as an event. It wasn’t like team gymnastics. It was totally different because one person had the floor then two people combined their floor routines into one. They both shared a moment of dance and then transitioned into the next. It was so fun. Can you imagine if that was how floor rotations went?


UNCLE TIM: It would be kind of crazy yeah. It would be kind of like fartlek. Do you know what a fartlek is?




UNCLE TIM: So it’s where one person if you’re training for cross country or track, one person’s running in the front then the person at the very end of the line has to run sprint up to the front and then run. And then the person in the back has to sprint up to the front and run. So you keep so it’s kind of like that. Just ongoing floor routine that never ends.


JESSICA: Except fun and not horrific like running. Ugh. Fartlek. Ugh. Yeah so it’s like that except awesome.


UNCLE TIM: So what were the highlights on floor?


JESSICA: Oh yeah. So besides the dance, Hallie Mossett is probably my favorite. She didn’t do her best, I think, at this event. But I don’t know how to describe this, but her arms are like another set of legs. [LAUGHS] Sounds weird and maybe like it would be an unattractive factor on a gymnast. But her arms are so long and expressive and there’s just something I’ve just never quite seen this in a gymnast before. She just has something some physicality that I’ve never seen. I don’t know. That’s all I can think of. They’re like another set of legs. Also on floor there’s some two double arabians, whip whip double pike from Nush, and then just some you know fun combinations like front step out to double back. Stuff like there were you like to see something interesting instead of a really boring front layout front layout puke all over yourself because you hate yourself for doing the most boring gymnastics ever middle throw away pass.






JESSICA: If you do front layout front layout, you should just take a crap on the floor and walk out. That is how much I hate those. [LAUGHS] If you’re a division I gymnast. If it’s like-


UNCLE TIM: Why don’t you tell us how you feel


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Like DII, DIII, if that’s all you can do, that’s awesome. But if you’re DI and used to be an elite, you should just be so embarrassed with yourself that you would rather just leave the gym than do that. I hate those passes so much.


UNCLE TIM: So I watched the medley as well. And I have to say that when a lot of people are going to hate me for saying this, but when I take a step back and look at Miss Val’s body of work, I find that her floor work has become somewhat stale in the sense that it has become somewhat predictable. Actually very predictable. For instance, you know that if she has an African American gymnast on her team, that girl will inevitably have some kind of tribal beats in her routine. And I haven’t decided whether that type casting is offensive or not. I keep vacillating on that issue. But yeah I think that her she hasn’t really pushed herself to step outside the box lately. And yeah, that’s kind of when you step back and look over the years, that’s kind of my impression.


JESSICA: Has Olivia Courtney had tribal beats in her routine?


UNCLE TIM: I’m trying to think. She did not. But what’s her name, Sadiqua did last year. She had the whole [inaudible] routine. Then this year I’m trying to think who had them. But yeah it’s kind of her go to with her African American gymnasts.


JESSICA: Interesting observation. I will refrain comment.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]. Alright. Well with that, let’s head over to another team that has-


JESSICA: Ninja level 10s!


UNCLE TIM: Ninja level 10s as you’d say. Oklahoma. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about what you liked from what you saw of Oklahoma on YouTube.


JESSICA: Well, I watched Lauren Alexander, and I love her mount. I really like that Oklahoma is trying and they’re making an effort. They’re not resting on their laurels like some team [coughs “Utah”]. So I really appreciate that. I watching one of the routines and was like oh the choreography’s so linear, they’re not using the- and then the girl turns, faces sideways, does a whole sequence of kicks and dun dun dun poses sideways and I was like ok nevermind, you got me. So I just appreciate that they’re really trying different things. And I like their choice of skills. And I really appreciate Oklahoma very much. And Lauren Alexander I was appreciating her routine very much. [LAUGHS] And then [LAUGHS]


UNCLE TIM: She does a chin stand and then what happens?


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] She like jumps into a chin stand which I was like oh that’s so- and then I was like [gasps and laughs].


UNCLE TIM: I don’t know what you just said, you’re going to have to try to say that again.


JESSICA: She like crawls on the beam and then like chest humps it. Or she like, she does like a little circle. It’s sort of like if Shakira and Britney Spears were doing a music video on the beam, what would they do.


UNCLE TIM: It’s very Shakira She Wolf if you’ve ever seen the music video to it.


JESSICA: Yeah. If she was covered in black oil, it would be even more. Yeah. Is that She Wolf or is that the one where she crawls under the table and the guy is cutting onions.


UNCLE TIM: That’s Tortura


JESSICA: I think it’s more Tortura than She Wolf. But anyway. It’s an eye opener. Let me tell you. Because I watched it about 20 times. So you got to watch that routine.




JESSICA: Then I also really liked Taylor Spears. Taylor Spears is like psht, she’s the, she’s awesome. And she does an Onodi to Korbut that will just take your breath away. I think I just expletived. I expeleted out loud when she did it. Can you say that? I’m making it up. I don’t care. It’s beautiful. It’s Oklahoma. There you go. And how do they not look fake tanned in Oklahoma? You think they do tanning beds? Why don’t they look orange? They know that causes cancer right?


UNCLE TIM: I do not know the answers to those questions.




UNCLE TIM: We will have to interview one of their gymnasts to find out.


JESSICA: Get to the bottom of this as we do these important important questions. What did you think?


UNCLE TIM: I had a funny transitions. I was going to say speaking of orange gymnast let’s talk about Florida.




UNCLE TIM: But no I think that one of my favorite up and comers is Chayse Capps. She does a back handspring step out lay out step out to a back handspring step out to arabesque. And I just thought that’s kind of a neat little touch at the end to finish the skill in an arabesque and just kind of capitalize on this and say I am in complete control of all this. But she does have a little bit of form on her back handsprings with her leading leg in the stepout, but other than that I think she will eventually deliver for Oklahoma and blossom into a really great gymnast. So yeah that’s kind of my impression on Oklahoma. I agree they’re making a name for themselves in terms of their balance beam rotations. So yeah. I enjoyed it.


JESSICA: Ninja level 10s




JESSICA: Ok. Orange gymnasts, Florida Gators. Why aren’t they green? Gators should be green. Or like, anywho. Ok. Silvia Colussi-Pelaez who has the transverse aerial named after her. She got it named after her at Worlds this year, which is shocking it’s taken this long for someone to get that named after them at Worlds. She’s fantastic. Gorgeous, gorgeous gymnast. I just I’m loving loving her. But let’s talk about beam for a minute. Spicer, Spicer, oh my god. Spicer from Kim Zmeskal’s gym Texas Dreams in Texas




UNCLE TIM: Really they’re from Texas?


JESSICA: I am really struggling today [LAUGHS] I don’t know why I’m struggling. Ok. So anyway I can’t get past the chest humping the beam circle, mm. Anywho. Ok you know why? Because I have a friend who I think I’ve mentioned this in a show before from North Dakota, and she did that in a floor routine. And she got a vulgarity deduction. The judge told her afterward because it was a long long time ago and, but I’m all for it. If it makes someone go what? And you know more power to you. I mean when you say to yourself what would Shakira do? Then the answer is what’s in my beam routine, then it’s ok with me. We need to make [LAUGHS] make-


UNCLE TIM: And the show has been derailed.




JESSICA: We need to make a tshirt that has that on it. What would Shakira do on the balance beam. Ok so Spicer. Back to Florida. Let’s go south, Florida, Spicer. From Texas. She does the most glorious sequence on beam. She does this thing where she does a needle scale then she does like a backwards turn on the beam then does a lay back pose without hanging onto the beam. Greece. We know that’s not how you do it. And then she turns over again and then she goes directly into a valdez. Who does a valdez anymore? Nobody. But Spicer does. I love it. I love it.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS] You really like the low portions of balance beam routines.


JESSICA: Because no one does it anymore. And they don’t do it right. Just touching your leo to the beam, that’s a quitters try is what that is.


UNCLE TIM: [LAUGHS]. Well yeah. And in NCAA to get a, to- let’s see, you have to have level changes. Let me back up. You have to have level changes, so you have to have high, medium, and low skills on the balance beam. And-




UNCLE TIM: Yes. Well, except you can do a kneel, you can do a squat, and those count as low skills. And-


JESSICA: If you’re totally lame


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. So yeah. You appreciate when somebody actually touches the balance beam with a portion of their body. So. Besides their feet and hands.


JESSICA: Right. In the O’Beirne code you actually have to do a skill down there. Not just wiggle your butt at the bottom of the beam and stand back up.


UNCLE TIM: So one thing I did notice with Florida’s floor routines is that they use very familiar floor. So for instance, the Colussi-Pelaez, they use “Those Were the Days,” which is the song that McKayla Maroney used this year. Mackenzie Caquatto uses “Heart of Courage” by Two Steps from Hell which was the song they used at the Olympics in 2012 which was interesting because that was supposed to be the Olympics Mackenzie went to. Alaina Johnson uses the “Diva Dance” by Eric Sara. Bridget Sloan uses “Seven Nation Army” by the White Stripes. So they use very familiar floor. And I think that’s probably a good thing because it probably makes you know your average fan a little more interested in the floor routines if they know the music. Yeah what did you think Jess?


JESSICA: Yeah I mean, I’m not like super into their choreography. It’s like, some people I love. But then the rest, I’m like eh. But then, you don’t know the gymnasts. Some gymnasts, you just can’t get anything out of them. Like, that’s the best they can do. They can’t squeeze an emotion out if you beat it out of them. That’s a tactic that I think works. It’s a tactic that works. That’s all I’m going to say. I just feel like they’re not trying hard enough. Oklahoma’s trying. It might be weird but they’re trying. So, but I do love the Colussi. We will now call her the Colussi. Like the Khaleesi. Is anyone else watching Game of Thrones? No, because Uncle Tim doesn’t watch TV.

UNCLE TIM: (laughs) I don’t have time.

JESSICA: No you’re very busy. So, go ahead.

JESSICA: Let’s discuss Bridget Sloan’s floor.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah so it’s interesting. So as I was saying, she uses Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes

JESSICA: (hums Seven Nation Army) no go ahead. I’m doing background music for you.

UNCLE TIM: So I loved the song at one point in my life so I don’t mind the music. But what I found very interesting is she is doing a lot of Alicia Sacramone’s old old dance elements. For instance, one time in the corner, she does kind of a butt shelf, what we call a butt shelf. You arch your back, stick out your butt. And then she rubs the inside of her thigh just like Alicia Sacramone used to do. And I was like huh, you really are a little Alicia follower out there. It reminded me of, you know how like when you’re a level 8 and you have to choreograph your routine and you’re like oh! I remember when I was like seven and I saw this other level 8 do this one thing and I’m going to do all those skills and put them in my floor routine, that’s what it reminded me of.

JESSICA: Well it could be an ode to Sacramone. This has been done before. But the thing is, it’s not just that one thing. It’s many Sacramone moves and we’re not the only ones who noticed this. A lot of people on Twitter and Facebook were like is this like a Sacra-what did they call it? A sacra-graph, something like that. But you know, maybe that’s part of the plan. Whatever it is, it’s for sure there, unquestionably. Unquestionably, there.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah and I  was also curious if maybe Alicia Sacramone choreographed the routine just because, you know how she’s getting into choreography. But I know that Jeremy Miranda usually choreographs Florida’s floor routines. So I’m guessing that they just used the normal choreographer. But I don’t know. So Jess, I know that you were saying some things about Utah not really trying. What did you think of their videos that have been coming out? I mean we know that Greg Marsden is the king of social media and puts out like a gazillion videos that are very high quality. But what did you think of the actual gymnastics?

JESSICA: Well first of all, kudos to them for having live streaming of the Red Rocks preview, what they call their intrasquad meet. That’s just great. Every team should do this.

UNCLE TIM: And that’s coming up on this Friday the 13th.

JESSICA: Yeah it’s at 7 pm mountain time. I mean, this is how it should be, everybody else out there in the whole world. Except you know there are some teams that are doing an intrasquad. No, they’re doing an intersquad instead of an intrasquad. So they’re competing against whatever local team which is great. I think that’s a cool way to do it too, so it’s an actual meet instead of just an exhibition. So I like that. Nansy Damianova has the hugest, most beautiful double Arabian into a stag jump ever. It’s glorious. So pretty. It’s really really really something, something to watch. And it just looks like tumbling wise and skill wise, they’re totally stepping it up. Choreography wise, you can basically just close your eyes the entire time until they get back to tumbling.

UNCLE TIM: (laughs)

JESSICA: Really I don’t understand it. I don’t know what else to say. You have these amazing athletes, you have this huge crowd. You could be setting the stage. I just feel like it’s lazy.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah but you do have to admire their tumbling.

JESSICA: Oh totally.

UNCLE TIM: Two handsprings to a full twisting double layout which is crazy. Nobody does that in NCAA. So yeah.

JESSICA: Yeah absolutely. The tumbling, the skills, they’re totally stepping it up. Absolutely, they are not resting on their laurels. That’s amazing. Totally not talking about the skills. I’m just talking about the choreography. But you know how I am. So let’s talk about Michigan.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah they had a live streaming video of their intersquad between Michigan and Central Michigan. And so it was interesting to watch. Bars is not necessarily considered their strong event. They’re very much like Brestyan’s in the sense that they are considered very good at floor, vault, and beam but bars not so much. However, I was really impressed because Austin Sheppard, a girl who competed for Hungary at the 2011 World Championships, Austin did a piked Tkatchev on bars which was impressive. Like nobody does that in NCAA. Nobody. So I thought that was interesting. And then also they have some big floor tumbling. Pretty much everyone opens up with a full twisting double back of some sort, either in a tuck or pike. And then they also have Joanna Sampson who is the NCAA floor champion. She is opening with a double layout. They have some big tumbling. However, their floor routines are very much in the hip thrusting chest popping dubstep hip hop realm of gymnastics. How do you feel about that Jessica?

JESSICA: I don’t mind that. If it works for the gymnast, then I’m okay with it. If it’s someone who clearly, when Terin Humphrey used to do her routines at Alabama, she looked like she wanted to put a bag over her head, no. But if it works for the gymnast, then I’m fine with it. I have no problem with hip hop in a leotard. I don’t care. Like if you can dance, you can dance. It doesn’t matter.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I was thinking about it kind of more in philosophical terms. You know how in college, it’s kind of this time, especially for a gymnast, where they are learning how to take ownership of their bodies in many ways, especially for female gymnasts. And it’s always interesting to see how that manifests itself. It could be what kind of clothes they wear. I also think it kind of comes out in their floor routines. There can be this part of you that ends up being expressed in maybe more seductive ways and I think that also comes out in their gymnastics. And I think it’s interesting. You have to think about the context. They’re in college and they’re finding themselves in many ways. So I really don’t have a problem with it because I think it’s just part of the identity formation process.

JESSICA: I agree. And the other thing is hip hop is the dance of our time. It is what you grow up doing. It is what you take dance class for. It is what you do when you go dancing. It is what happens, what people do in the hallway at school. It is what happens when you go to your school dance. To not include that kind of dance in NCAA , it is the dance of our time. It cannot be denied. It must be expressed! Okay, now I’m done with that.

UNCLE TIM: Your favorite, Jessica, Minnesota. Tell me all about Minnesota.

JESSICA: Well as usual, they’re my favorite, favorite, favorite. And Idaho, Boise, I love them too, in artistic ways. Lindsay Mable, glorious as always. Just extension. Like extension, extension, extension. They’re like shorter versions, tighter versions of McCool. That’s what I would say. They don’t have, they just seemed a little tight. Just exquisite extension. Oh I love them. But oh my God, Hanna Nordquist on beam, shut up! She’s doing aerial, layout step out, stuck cold. Then she does an aerial full dismount, which is freaking hard. An aerial into a dismount, I don’t like just a full for your dismount. But an aerial into your dismount, that’s scary. I mean it’s not an E into an aerial which obviously Nush should get 100 points of bonus for. She does a switch half and she does a switch side. Doing a switch side, just watching it, it makes me feel like I’ve pulled every single muscle in my crotch. So she’s just fantastic. Have you ever tried one?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I used to make the girls really upset because I was very good at leaps.

JESSICA: I don’t want to talk to you anymore. That is the hardest freaking, well I guess for some people it’s fine. Whatever. Okay, what are we on to next? Alabama.

UNCLE TIM: So I would say that I’m very impressed with Sarah DeMeo because she is doing an Arabian double pike. However, you feel there is a tragedy at hand, Jess. Why’s that?

JESSICA: Because she’s such a beautiful dancer and they are just not finding. The routine starts pretty promising actually. It starts with, what’s the twerking song with the one that used to be on the Disney Channel. You know they all end up to be drunk addicts. And there’s the older guy

UNCLE TIM: Are you thinking of Miley Cyrus?

JESSICA: Yes! What’s the song they did that to?

UNCLE TIM: Blurred Lines

JESSICA: Blurred Lines! Like you can’t help but dance when you hear that song. Isn’t that what it starts with? In my mind, that’s what song it starts with. I’m pretty sure it’s Blurred Lines. Anyway, it starts with that and I’m like oh yeah. She’s my favorite gymnast and she’s going to do an Arabian double pike which everyone should lose their minds. It’s an Arabian double pike in college! Is she the first person to ever do that? Is she? I kind of want to say yes.

UNCLE TIM: She might be yeah.

JESSICA: Oh my God and I love her. And then the music changes and I do not want to jump up and down in my seat anymore and it’s just like eh. I don’t care for it. I mean can we try something different with her? It’s the same problem with Terin Humphrey. This is what they did, injustice all four years, injustice. What did you think?

UNCLE TIM: I don’t know. I was mostly just thinking about the fact that she was doing an Arabian double pike. And I’ll be honest, there’s a lot of times during NCAA routines that I just kind of tune out during the choreography because I hate to say this but really what it comes down to is whether you land well in NCAA, land your tumbling passes well or not, whether your drag your front foot on your lunge or not. I don’t even know that they really take too much deduction for cheating on your jumps which happens a lot in NCAA. When you’re doing your twisty jumps, let’s say you’re doing I don’t know, a Popa into a Popa, they don’t really pay too much attention into whether you did a Popa and a quarter into a straddle and three quarters or something. I guess it’s probably bad that I don’t always pay attention to the choreography.

JESSICA: Well I can see why you don’t. I mean it’s not terrible. It’s not like she’s doing anything hideous. It’s a missed opportunity. You know how I feel about missed opportunities. Oh, speaking of stuck landings, Bridget Sloan, holy crap. She’s stuck like every video of her that’s come out. She’s stuck her landings. Beam, floor whatever. She’s a sticking machine, sticking machine.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah, we’ll see. This is really early to be making predictions. But do you think she could repeat as NCAA all around champion?


UNCLE TIM: Or do you think that Kytra Hunter will be so mad that she didn’t win last year that she’ll step it up and win this year?

JESSICA: I think she will be extremely mad but I think there’s no way she’s going to beat Bridget Sloan.

UNCLE TIM: Okay. Who else do you think could be up there? I’d say Rheagan Courville probably.

JESSICA: For all around? I don’t know yet.

UNCLE TIM: I’d say Rheagan Courville could be up there. Maybe Emily Wong of Nebraska.

JESSICA: Mmm, love Emily Wong.

UNCLE TIM: We’ll have to pose this question to our gym nerds.

JESSICA: Did you draft your fantasy team yet?

UNCLE TIM: Not yet.

JESSICA: Oh my God, I haven’t either. Just thinking about it makes my palms sweat. Like I need to seriously plan. I don’t feel prepared. It’s a serious decision. It’s my first time so I want it to be special. Okay, let’s talk about gymternet news. I added some more stuff to the gift guide because I can’t help myself. And one of the things I added is this really cool book called Flip Outside the Box: Creative Women’s Gymnastics Elements. So I love, love, love, love this book. It was published in 2009, I think and it just has really unique skills that aren’t necessarily in the code. Like some of the things, I think they’ve been added since this book came out. But it’s stuff that just, after you’ve been doing it, especially as an adult gymnast, after you’ve been doing gymnastics for 20-30 years, you want to just try something new. Like you just want a challenge. It’s fun to just challenge yourself with something new. And this book is full, full, full of ideas. If you have a rec program, or I remember Steve Nunno talking about this a long time ago. He said he would give the Code to his athletes and just say pick out something you want to learn today and we’ll just try it. Just to mix it up, to make it fun, to give someone a challenge. You know, it gets so tedious doing the same workouts so I cannot recommend this book enough. I mean and there’s stuff for every level. You don’t have to be a level 10 to try the stuff in here. They have something everybody can try from a level 5 on. Such a cool idea, and it also has a spot for notes so you can take notes about what you tried or how many times you tried or a variation. And actually, the illustrations are really good. I was a little worried, stick figures, but, they’re not. They’re really nice illustrations. It’s really easy to understand what’s going on in the pictures. I’m really really impressed with this. Very impressed, I totally wholeheartedly recommend this book. So I added it. Check it out. Hopefully, I don’t know if I’m going to add more stuff. We’ll see. But I love our gift guide. I keep adding more stuff to it.

UNCLE TIM: And so last week, there were a couple of people tweeting at us about Shawn Johnson and what Larry Nasser said about Shawn Johnson. He said that she only tore her meniscus. She didn’t tear her ACL. And lots of people have been saying but Shawn Johnson said she tore her ACL. So Jess, what can you say about that?

JESSICA: Okay so just to clarify. So a sprain is a microscopic tear in your ligament. So you have different degrees. You have first, second, and third degree sprains. So a first degree could be a microscopic tear. Second degree, a little worse. Third degree can be a full entire tear of the ligament where the ends are not touching anymore. So that’s when you need an ACL repair. So you know, Shawn even said this. I went back and looked on her blog, the very first post she puts up about this. She said that she had a small tear in her ACL. So she did not have a complete tear of her ACL. What she had was a bad sprain. A small tear is totally different than a full complete tear of your ACL. So I guess she was advised by her doctors to have ACL repair because she did have ACL repair. But she didn’t have an ACL tear. I don’t know why they advised her to have the ACL repair even though she didn’t have a full tear but that’s what she decided to do. So that’s the clarification about what that was about.

UNCLE TIM: Okay. And what did a lot of people say about Mr. Larry Nasser? Well, Dr. Pardon, Dr. Larry Nasser.

JESSICA: We have had so much amazing feedback about his episode. I thought the Katelyn Ohashi, that had to be the one we got the most feedback ever about. This show, constantly, even when I was at the UCLA event. People came up to me and they were like Larry Nasser, thank you so much for putting that episode out. He’s a hero. I mean I was like shocked. He really, I mean this is kind of epic response that we’ve gotten. People are just absolutely thrilled. Alright so this person said, gymfan10 said: “This interview was FANTASTIC! All caps. Dr. Nasser’s insight into USA’s history is so fascinating. I really respect the work he does for the gymnasts. You could really tell he cares about them as human beings and getting them as successful as they can be. I found his comments about Morgan White to be so heartbreaking. I can see why the US has stuck with injured athletes at the Olympics. Chellsie Memmel came to mind. Thank you for your podcast. I look forward to listening to it every week. It’s a great way for us gymnerds to keep up with everything that’s going on in gymnastics world.” Tonya said, “I love love LOVE these Gymcastic interviews. Great questions, fascinating answers, getting a chance to hear from people I’ve always wanted to, such as so many gymnasts, Tim Daggett, now Dr. Larry Nasser. I was try to tell my husband how all the athletes walk under the picture of the 2000 team and the hell they went through and couldn’t stop from tearing up. It’s so refreshing to read someone’s comments and see that there are so many fans like myself who have such a love for the sport. Thank you Gymcastic. Please keep the interviews coming.” Lauren H. said “Oh my God, I love Dr. Larry Nasser. I love compulsories and miss them so much and thought it was amazing that that would be the one universal gymnastics change. Brilliant. And never put two and two together but the injury rate increased once compulsories were dropped. So true, insane, and sad. Great interview.”

UNCLE TIM: Gymnassthole wrote on our website, “I’m going to start a petition to have Dr. Larry Nasser on Gymcastic every week!!!!!!! He should also take Tim Daggett’s commentator’s place. He should also take Tim Gunn’s place as Project Runway mentor. He should also take Abby Lee Miller’s place on Dance Moms. He should also take Rudolph’s place on Santa’s sleigh. What I’m saying is, he should take everyone’s place.” So basically we are no longer needed Jess. We just need Dr. Larry Nasser.

JESSICA: That comment expressed the depth of love and gratitude and hero status that he has now gained after that interview. Yeah he’s a pretty special guy and very honest and put some sunshine and light and honesty onto the history of our sport and what’s going on now and definitely resonated with the fans. In Russia, some not so good news.

UNCLE TIM: Yes, unfortunately Afanasyeva had ankle surgery before World Championships and it turns out that the ankle surgery did not produce the desired results and it sounds like she’s going to have to go to Germany for another surgery. So hopefully those magical doctors who I believe fixed Aliya’s knee back in the day, will also do some magical work on Afanasyeva. But in good news, in terms of injuries, Kalon Ludvigson, we interviewed Justen Millerbernd a few months ago about Kalon’s injury. And for many months, he was in the hospital. But now it sounds like he will be heading home for Christmas. That’s very exciting news. I’m sure that Kalon’s family will be happy to have him home.

JESSICA: And he can use his arms, not fine motor skills. But he can use his arms and he has a push wheelchair which is a big big big deal. So I’m very excited for him and his husband that he’s going to be home. Sending you both our love, Justen and Kalon. Okay, so we asked you guys for a leotard injury, oh my God. So wait until our interview that’s coming up at the end of the week on Friday. We’re going to have three interviews actually for you. We asked the same question to one of our guests, have you ever had a leotard injury. I broke the sound on my recording because I laughed so hard. So do not miss the interviews on Friday. Just to preview it, if you thought I laughed hard in the past on the show, just wait until Friday. So, one of our Tumblr followers wrote in with this fantastic response. Newtonthinkimattractive said: It was not a gymnastics leo but when I used to do ballet, we had leos with tutus. I just thought these were the coolest things ever. I was about six and it was one of my first public recitals. I tried to jump straight into my leo with the tutu. I decided that literally jumping into the leo with both feet was a good idea. I jumped and managed to  get one leg into one of the arm holes. But I didn’t realize this at the time, I thought I had jumped right into both of the leg holes no problem. So I kept pulling and pulling and fighting with the leo trying to figure out why it wouldn’t pull up and what was wrong. To make a long story short, I cut my leg and fell head first into a chair. Not one of my best moments.” Thank you, thank you newtonthinksImattractive for writing in with that fantastic story. Uncle Tim, do we have an international shout out of the week?

UNCLE TIM: So I’m going to go with gym nerds of the week, plural. And the gymnerd award goes to all of our Facebook followers who tried to think of a way to change the composition of Larisa Iordache’s bar routines so that she did not have a giant swing into a half pirouette. And so they thought of a bunch of different ways to reorganize her routine so that she would no longer have that kind of awkward swing half pirouette in it. And so, it goes to all those people who participated and were nerdy enough to throw out some ideas.

JESSICA: I was super impressed with that. They came up with great ideas. I was like, how do we send these to the Romanian federation because clearly they need all of us gym nerds.

UNCLE TIM: Exactly.

JESSICA: So next week, not next week. Later this week, we have our interview with NCAA judge extraordinaire Dean Ratliff who’s been a judge for a long long time and I just love love love. Because when I was judging high school gymnastics and had no idea what I was doing because I didn’t even know that high school gymnastics existed, he kindly walked me through everything without laughing hysterically in my face at the ridiculous questions I asked him. So he will always have a special special place in my heart and he’s an extraordinary judge and he’s been around for a long time. He’s seen everything. So we will get the scoop from him. Thank you to everybody who wrote in questions for him. We’re also going to talk to Fred Turoff at Temple University about how we can help save the men’s gymnastics program that was dropped there the day before finals, the week before finals. Put all the student athletes in a room the week before finals and said oh all of your programs have been dropped, all these teams. We’re also going to talk to Jill Hicks and find out what she discovered when she surveyed NCAA coaches and asked them what they thought of early recruiting and what should be done about this. Some interesting results she got so we’ll talk to her on Friday. If you love the show, please remember to vote for us on the Stitcher awards. You can go to the site and there’s a link and nominate us in one of the many categories available and remember to check out our gift guide.

ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.

If you love Gymcastic, and you can’t get enough of us, remember to subscribe via email, watch our video playlists, recommend us, share us with a friend, walk into the gym and yell it from the top of the beam, Gymcastic is the best podcast ever. Everyone should listen. Rate us, review us on iTunes, review us on Stitcher. You asked for ways to support the show. You can donate directly. You can also support us by doing your holiday shopping through our Amazon store. There’s a little link to Amazon and just click on there and as long as you start that way, a little portion of your holiday shopping will go back to us and to support the show. You can always call us or email us, leave us a voicemail or our email is and our phone number for voicemail is 415-800-3191 or our Skype username is Gymcastic Podcast. Did I forget anything Uncle Tim? Anything you want to mention?


JESSICA: Please go on to Amazon and buy tiny match cars that can be set on fire and send them to Uncle Tim so he can stage the riot for Oleg that he’s always wanted to. Okay. Until Friday, my gym nerds, this is Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: See you later this week.

[Exit music plays]

JESSICA: Oh my God you are not doing that right now. Did you drink a whole bottle of wine? You’re fired. You just made me reverberate on my recording. (sighs) Coop is fired. He just did the running man past the desk. As if we weren’t off track enough. Alright where was I?




[expand title=”Episode 65: NCAA Judge Dean Ratliff, Early Recruiting & Saving Temple Men’s Gymnastics”]

DEAN: But yes in the 1970s for NCAA, they were held at Penn State, just before the meet started, a young man walked out with a stocking on his head, went to the corner, raised his hand, did a round off flip flop back somersault and ran off the floor with the policemen chasing him.


JESSICA: See, no one believed me! I wasn’t making it up!

DEAN: Yeah, yep.

[Express Yourself intro music plays]

JESSICA: Today, the best gym myth busters we’ve ever done on this show, and there’s two of them. Plus three interviews.

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 We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: This is Episode 65 for December 13, 2013. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics.

UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym.

JESSICA: And this is the number one gymnastics podcast ever, in the history of human kind, bringing you the most fascinating people in gymnastics. Today is an all interview show about NCAA. This is our last show of the year. Look forward to some classic episodes over the next two weeks while we recharge our batteries. There’s also something super super super exciting going on right now. Stitcher is doing their yearly awards and we have been nominated. YES! So as of this recording, we are ranked number 30 for all sports shows. We are beating, they only ranked the top 100. And we are beating some of the top names in sports, people who have their own TV shows. We are beating them in the awards. This is a huge deal. We are also the only sports show ranked in the top 50 that has a female lead host, that would be me and focuses primarily on women and women’s sports. In the whole top 100, I could only find one other show that has a female host and I couldn’t find any that focus on women’s sports. We are going to make gymnastics more popular than football. We can do it! We’re already beating these shows that like just talk about football. We can do it you guys. I’m so excited! You can help by voting every single day for us. So you go on Stitcher, you like them on Facebook and then you can vote. And you can vote for us in the sports podcast category and anything else you want. Whatever you want to, there’s a bunch of categories. Best interview of the year might be another category that we would fit well into. Just suggesting. So let’s take over the straight male dominated sports radio world and let’s kill it in these awards. Okay. Next, what’s going on on our site. There’s a new guide to NCAA balance beam rules which are freaking hilarious. You should check it out. Look for an end of the year survey coming out soon. We always ask you at this time of the year what you like about the show, what you don’t like about the show, what do you want to see more of. We want to find out what you want out of the show and make the show more of what you want. So we need your opinion. So look for that when we put it up for two or three weeks. If you love the show, as always, you can find transcripts of the show. Thanks to our fantastic transcription team. We love love love them. (makes kiss noises) to our transcribers. You can send us a voicemail on Skype at Gymcastic Podcast. That’s our username. Or call us at 415-800-3191. You can tell us what you think of everything by contacting us. Just send us an email at We read all of your emails. Shop at our Amazon store. If you want to support the show, there’s a link. Just start there when you’re Amazon shopping and a little portion of what you spend will go back to us. We also have a fantastic gym nerd holiday gift guide which you should definitely check out. You can also support us by downloading the Stitcher app of course. It works on all devices including Android and the thing I love about it is that it doesn’t take up storage space on your phone. And as we know, storage space is a premium so that’s why I use it a lot. I also found a lot of other podcasts that I like. You can subscribe to us via email. You can also recommend us on Facebook. Tell your friends. Do a flyaway off bars and then yell in the air, “I love Gymcastic podcast. Everyone should listen to it and vote for us on the Stitcher awards.” You can rate us or write a review. And of course, you guys asked for a way to support the show directly so you can donate. It’s the holiday giving season so if you want to donate, who are we to say no to it? So first up today we have Dean Ratliff. He’s a judge. He has been judging for 28 years. I know him because he judged when I was coaching high school in Seattle and I had no idea what I was doing. Me and my friend Lisa were judging. He helped us so much and he was awesome and I’ve just loved him ever since. So he is a USAG national rated judge. He’s also an assigner and he has a fourteen-year-old daughter who is a former gymnast, now a swimmer. And I’m so glad to have him on the show. So before we get started with Dean, I just want to thank you guys for listening this year. We will see you after the new year with a very special New Year’s show. Until then, enjoy the interviews. Let us know what you think. Remember to email Fred Turoff at Temple University to help save the men’s program. Vote for us on the Stitcher awards and thank you all so much for your support this year and a have wonderful, wonderful holiday.

UNCLE TIM: Our interview with Dean Ratliff is brought to you by TumblTrak. So I was perusing TumblTrak’s website and I think that I found the greatest invention of all time. It’s the slider. I’m not talking about those mini hamburgers that dudes eat while watching football games. I’m talking about these slippery objects similar to furniture movers. Every gym can use them. So they are perfect for strength and conditioning. At my old gym, we used to use Frisbees but with Frisbees, you have to worry about the boys chucking the Frisbees and unintentionally hitting the little preschooler over in the corner working on her skin-the-cat. With sliders, you can build core and arm strength by putting the gymnast in prone position and putting the sliders under their feet and making them walk their hands while dragging their feet from one end of the floor to the other. You can even make it into a little race. And the best part, with the sliders, you don’t have to worry about the boys chucking the sliders like Frisbees and bonking some unsuspecting preschooler in the head. #winning. So to check out the sliders and other TumblTrak products, head over to That’s

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: Yay! So thank you for joining us today. And I want to tell everybody how we met originally. So I used to coach high school at Garfield High School in Seattle which is known for many reasons. One, for having shootings at the high school. Another for having, was it Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix went there very briefly I think? How could Bruce Lee have

DEAN: And Quincy Jones

JESSICA: And Quincy Jones! Yes that’s right!

DEAN: Oh and the guy with the soprano, whatever it’s called clarinet thing? Kenny G!

JESSICA: Kenny G, oh my God that’s so awesome. I didn’t know about him. It’s such a fascinating school because it’s a magnet school. It’s an academic magnet school but people kind of considered it like the bad neighborhood, bad area of Seattle, which I absolutely loved it. And it was surrounded by Ethiopian restaurants, which was also my favorite thing, where we took our team to dinner. So we met because I had no idea what I was doing coaching high school with my friend Lisa. I didn’t even know high school gymnastics existed anymore. I thought it was all destroyed in the 70s. And it was just the most fun, exciting best experience of my life and you were part of that because you didn’t laugh hysterically in my face when I would ask really stupid questions because I didn’t know what I was doing. So what is it like judging high school? Can you describe it for people who have never experienced this?

DEAN: Well you know it’s a lot like college you know because it’s a whole team environment in the school and the students come out to support their teams. And there’s a lot of cheering and fanfare that goes on at those types of things. What I find really cool is you get to really see in the three month period of the season, the kids improve. So many kids, they don’t do club. Maybe they did club in their past. Maybe they’ve never done club before. If you happen to see a team early on in the season and then later, you’re just going wow these coaches and athletes are amazing because they’ve improved so much in just a couple of weeks. I found that so cool.

JESSICA: Yeah we had absolute beginners who had never done gymnastics before in their entire lives to level tens on the same team. And everybody had to learn to be a team and support each other. And I think what you’re describing is why it was so gratifying and fun to do because you could see those changes and yeah. It’s fun. We had one girl who was Muslim and it was during Ramadan so she couldn’t eat anything and she had to cover up her whole body and she’d never done gymnastics before. She could barely stand up, she was so tired from not eating. And then because she was a high school student and she was fierce, she wore leopard print leggings, long ones down to her ankles to be covered down to her feet underneath her leotard and then the same leopard print (our colors were purple) arm bands or sleeves. She was just oh my God. She was the best. I was just like I love this. This is like an experience she’s never going to have again and she totally gets to be her own person right now. And it was a really weird routine but it was very entertaining. And she was just like glowing afterwards. She was so happy. What are some of the most interesting or unusual things you have seen judging high school gymnastics?

DEAN: Oh gosh. There’s so many creative things people come up with. I mean sometimes coaches and athletes will come up with a routine where they choreograph a fall in there (this is on bars) just so that they can get their bar changes in and by doing this feel that they have no hope of ever meeting. But as long as they touch the other bar, they get credit for the skill and can count as their bar change. So you know, it ups their start value a lot. So that goes on. You do see the interesting uniforms like you mentioned. That’s always very creative.

JESSICA: Very creative yes.

DEAN: Yes, yes. And you know it’s funny. I’m the technical director for our program here in the state. So I get those types of questions like okay we have this athlete who is whatever religion and they can’t do this. And you know, it’s funny because I’ll go and search the internet. Like if they’re Muslim, I will search various Muslim countries’ web pages and search for pictures just to see what they actually wear in competition. They don’t often take it well but I’m like well here’s all the pictures of the Egyptian national team and they’re wearing leotards. Here’s the Algerian team and the Indonesian team and they’re all wearing leotards. So do what you need to do but just know, it’s actually acceptable in many cases. So you do get that. Oh I had one recently where a girl has quarter or maybe even half dollar sized gauges in her ears.


DEAN: Yeah this was an interesting one. I was like well that’s actually kind of jewelry and they argued back saying, well if we take it out, she’s got this big floppy thing. And I’m like well yeah that’s kind of an interesting situation. Hmm maybe you counsel her on her life choices because that’s not going to look good as she progresses through life. But I guess we’re going to have to like tape those up or something. I don’t want her to stick her finger through the hole in her ear.

JESSICA: Oh my God, I never would have thought of that. I guess that wasn’t really very, well you didn’t see that very often and now it’s really common to have the big ass hole in your ear.

DEAN: Yep.

JESSICA: Oh my God, what if you’re spotting and you stuck the finger through the hole in her ear and ripped her….oh my God. Thank God I never coached anyone with gauges. Oh jeez.

DEAN: Yeah exactly.

JESSICA: So while we’re on the topic of jewelry, let’s discuss this because there are a lot of myths. Ok we play this game on the show, which you’re familiar with, gymnastics myth busters. And we’ll do the NCAA judging edition with you. So let’s start with makeup and jewelry. Is it true that you cannot wear any makeup and no jewelry including piercings and nail polish?

DEAN: So for NCAA, which follows the USAG rules also with that, jewelry, you get one set of stud earrings, on in each ear. That’s it as far as jewelry goes. Makeup, you can wear whatever you like. Now coaches will a lot of times tell their athletes no makeup, no fingernail polish, get it all off. That’s actually their rule, not a rule outside of their own gym.


DEAN: Yeah I know There’s going to be a lot of uproar over that one. And in high school, each state actually has their own high school rules. They vary by state. In Washington, there is no jewelry allowed whatsoever. There’s no warning. It’s an automatic zero if they wear jewelry.

JESSICA: So even if you wear earrings?

DEAN: Even earrings.

JESSICA: (gasps) Oh my gosh! I had no idea!

DEAN: Yeah and that’s to be consistent with other sports. You know, soccer doesn’t allow it. Swimming doesn’t allow it. So our state’s governing body said you know we need you guys to have a rule about jewelry also. No jewelry. Okay fine.

JESSICA: So what about NCAA?

DEAN: It’s the same as USAG. One set of stud earrings.

JESSICA: So you could wear, just throwing it out there, you could wear stud earrings and then you could paint your face to look like a tiger and compete and that would be fine with tiger nails to match.

DEAN: It would be. So many of the athletes, they are quite small, wear the face tattoos and it takes up their whole cheek.

JESSICA: (laughs) That’s true! Okay so let’s talk about face jewelry because this is something we’ve been seeing. Of course we cannot get enough of the story of the girl who fell on her face and slid down the beam with the little stud piercing, which she had like a jewel glued to her face. So it gave her a giant scratch down her face. Are those considered jewelry or is that makeup?

DEAN: I would consider it makeup. I’ve never seen anything written, in writing about that, so I would consider it makeup and not worry about it. I think jewelry pertains to like objects hanging on you or going through you like a piercing sort of thing. It’s a good question and I have not seen anything in writing about stick on jewels.

JESSICA: Interesting. Oh my gosh I’m so excited. Okay so what about hair? Could you compete with a Mohawk? Because you know this is my dream for someone to compete with a full Mohawk.

DEAN: (laughs) You could. Your hair is just supposed to be kept out of your face.

JESSICA: So as long as it’s sticking straight up and doesn’t hit your hands or the floor then that could work. Oh my gosh.

DEAN: It could touch your hands. You’re just supposed to look sort of tidy sort of thing.

JESSICA: Okay so what about in NCAA when people do their hair so that it’s all tied back, it’s away from their face, but when they flip, their ponytail like whacks them in the face. Don’t count that?

DEAN: You just go with it. I mean the only thing I’ve heard other judges moan about and probably a lot of people moan about is really messy ponytails.

JESSICA: Mmm yes.

DEAN: You know where there’s hair sticking out all over the place. It looks like a cat’s tail and the cat’s real excited.

JESSICA: (laughs) A cat on Halloween.

DEAN: Yes exactly! But you know, there’s no rule against it. It’s just well if you want to present yourself like that, go for it.

JESSICA: Oh my gosh, this is the best myth busters. I thought we had the best myth busters yesterday, but this is even better. Oh my gosh. Okay. Is it true that judges in NCAA can take an artistry deduction?

DEAN: Yes.

JESSICA: And what are the rules about that? Can you give us an example of a time you’ve taken it?

DEAN: Well artistry is up to three tenths.

JESSICA: Up to three tenths?

DEAN: Mmmhmm. There’s three different categories for it and each one is worth up to one tenth. The originality and creativity of the choreography, the quality and the movement must express their personal style, and then the quality of expression. So that’s one of the few areas where it’s just really up to the judge’s opinion on what, if anything, they’re going to take.

JESSICA: So wow. Oh my Gosh. I mean this is why I should never be a judge because I would take the artistry deduction all over the place. Can you give us an example of when you’ve taken that? Like you don’t have to name names of course unless you can.

DEAN: Okay so it applies only on beam and floor of course because you don’t have a whole lot of choreography on bars and vault. Yeah I’ve taken it when sometimes you’ll see choreography that’s just really really bad. Like oh did your little sister who’s in ninth grade put this together for you where it’s just a whole lot of okay I’m going to do a skill here and dance over here and I’m going to stop over here and stand around for a minute. You know, I’ll take it with that. If you get athletes who just aren’t emoting, you know, they’re not performing. You know, you can look at that as part of the quality of expression.

JESSICA: So they have what we call that elite dead eyes.

DEAN: Yeah!

JESSICA: There’s nothing on the face, nothing registers.

DEAN: Yeah exactly. And you’re not saying they have to smile and be cheery through it, but that’s part of the expression. If they’ve got a real upbeat hip hop type music, you expect to see some facial expression, body expression, movement going along with that.

JESSICA: This is so interesting. Okay now. Next one. Because I have a friend, you might have judged her at UW a long time ago. She’s from North Dakota and she said that she got a vulgarity deduction in her floor routine in North Dakota. Can you take a vulgarity deduction?

DEAN: Well there’s nothing written that says there’s a deduction for that. And this is what happens. A kid will fall off and they’ll say a nice choice word or two and it sort of leaves the judge in a quandary because there is no specific deduction for that type of thing. Now you could look at it as sportsmanship. But sportsmanship really comes into you get a warning and you really need to shape up your behavior. If they just fall off and curse like a sailor, you say hey you really can’t do that and they did it again, then there would be a sportsmanship deduction. But you know, I just sort of go with it because I don’t know what deduction would apply for that situation.

JESSICA: See I just feel like there’s such a double standard with vulgarity. Because in boys’ sports, they can cuss up a storm, not that it’s right, whatever. It’s not very sportsmanlike. But they’re encouraged to and when I see women do that and then they get attacked for it, I’m like really. Anyway. Those are my personal feelings about it.

DEAN: No I completely agree with you. There’s other situations like the swearing, like leotard picking, like jewelry and underwear showing. I like to focus on the sport itself and not worry about those things whenever I can. I don’t want to be that judge like the movie Stick It with the bra showing. I would much prefer to focus on what the athlete is doing as it relates to the sport itself rather than if her bra strap is showing or if she has piercings. Some of them are rules and we do have to enforce the rules.

JESSICA: So my other question related back to gym myth busters again. Can you take a vulgarity artistry deduction? If there’s something in the routine and I’ll give you an example. There was a gymnast at Fullerton who sat on the floor and she would clap her hands one two at the audience and the audience would start to clap one two and then she would smack her butt to the beat one two while the audience made the clapping sound. Just an example.

DEAN: Oh, well I could certainly see that falling into the up to three tenths for artistry. That one I definitely could see someone finding a way, especially like the quality of expression piece. Oh that wasn’t good quality sort of right there.

JESSICA: Oh she definitely had the facial expression, it definitely went with the booty slap. It was all together. You felt like you were in the club with the pole in the middle. So there was that. I’ve always wanted to ask a judge that question. So we just talked a little bit about the wedgies and the problems and all that. And I wondered. One of the other myths that’s out there is that if a whole team has a problem with their leos, so if it’s not just one person, you know they get a wedgie they pick it whatever. But if the whole team, somehow, something is wrong with the leos and every single person has a wedgie the whole time they’re competing, can a deduction be taken against the entire team or basically against the coach for putting them in those leos?

DEAN: Not really. I mean the leotards have to come down below their hips. If they’ve got tank leotards, the top has to be two inches thick or something like that. But other than that, no. There really aren’t. And it wouldn’t be a team deduction. It would be an individual deduction. So no there’s nothing really about that.

JESSICA: Okay, very good to know. Hmm another myth busted.

DEAN: Somewhere, I forget whether it’s USAG or NCAA, they sort of make a sort of broad statement saying you know, we’re gymnasts. We’re not pole dancers sort of thing so try and keep it professional.

JESSICA: I’m glad that exists somewhere.

DEAN: Yeah but aside from those measurements and the not going above the hips sort of thing, there’s nothing terribly specific about it.

JESSICA: Okay another myth. Let’s ask you this one. If a judge sees something they think is too dangerous to be performed, like in warm ups a kid is crashing almost on their head every time, the judge can make an executive decision and tell the gymnast or the coach, I’m overruling this. I don’t want to see them do that. They can’t do that vault. It’s too dangerous. True or false?

DEAN: That is a very good question. And you know, I have seen that exact situation. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen it. This was at a club meet, not NCAA. At this particular meet, it was actually one club that had kids just whomping all over the place. I mean Tsuks to their face, double backs to their face. It was just nightmarish. Some of the judges said no I’m not going to judge this and others judged it.

JESSICA: Really?

DEAN: The sort of question went up to the USAG office and the ruling came down. And this was a long time ago. Things may have changed but I haven’t seen anything in writing that I can remember. It’s the judges’ responsibility to judge what they see. They don’t get to say you don’t get to compete. It’s the coaches’ responsibility to make sure the athlete can perform the skills they are performing.

JESSICA: So basically what should happen in this situation is parents should walk onto the floor, slap the coach and take their kid out of there. Okay. That’s just my personal opinion.

DEAN: Well you know the parents, a lot of them get caught in the whirlwind of it all themselves and just think it’s okay. From what Dr. Nasser was saying the other day, the parents also need to take some responsibility here. If they see their kid continually doing that they’re landing on their face, maybe they should have a talk with the coach and say she’s perhaps not ready for this. We need to try something else.

JESSICA: Yes! Amen to that! Next myth: all judges at NCAA championships are Brevet level judges. True or false?

DEAN: False. To judge an NCAA meet, any NCAA meet, you have to be a level 10 rated judge or higher. So that will include level 10 judges, national judges and then Brevet judges. And in the United States, there are two types of Brevet judges. There’s the FIG Brevets who are international judges and I forget the exact number but it’s somewhere around twenty that the United States has and what are called USA Brevet judges. And the national and USA Brevet judges take the same test and it’s all level 10 rules. So all of the types of judges, we just know level 10. We don’t look at FIG rules. It doesn’t affect our lives unless you work in a gym or something like that and you’re training athletes for that. The FIG Brevet judges, there might be a couple that judge college, not many at all.

JESSICA: Interesting! Well thank you for clarifying that because I know we talked about that in our NCAA episode last year so this is very good to know. So let’s discuss something I’ve always wanted to ask a judge. Okay so to put a little perspective because I know some of the younger people who listen to the show, they’re used to this. This is what they’ve grown up doing. Back in the day, when you had a gymnastics meet at a club, it would be like you and your club and four other clubs. That would be it. And you would all show up, you warm up and you rotate. You know, four apparatus, four teams, boom. Meet’s over. Tops, the meet is over in three hours, would be the very longest. And then you go home. You still had a Saturday. You’d all go out to pizza afterwards. It was great. You had a weekend, whatever. So now, I mean I don’t even go to local meets anymore because they’re like a factory farm. I don’t know how else to explain what the meets are like. Each gym has like two massive, gigantic, huge mega meets that would have been the equivalent of what would have been a state championship in the olden days with that many kids. There’s like 400 kids. It costs like $100 to compete in the meet or $200. And it’s like this farm system where there’s constantly all day long competition. And I can’t even imagine what that’s like for the judges to judge from 8 am until 9:00 at night, not to mention for the parents and the coaches. I personally just do not like this sytem at all. I feel like it’s driven by, for financial reasons and not for the health and safety and well-being of the athletes and their family. What is it like for you seeing this change happen over the years?

DEAN: Well I think you pretty much nailed the way the situation is now. I have no doubt, before I say what I’m going to say, is that the coaches of course have their athletes, have the best for their athletes in mind. But gosh those meets are long. When I see a three session meet with 70-odd kids in each session and know I’m going to be there from 8:00 to 9:00 each day, I just sort of quiver because it is long and it’s hard. You get tired. Me, I try not to take those meets anymore because I just don’t think I as a judge can do that good of a job at 7:00 at night anymore and give the athletes their due time with my eyes and my critique of their performance because it’s just so exhausting to be doing that for so long of a time during the day.

JESSICA: Yeah okay good. I hope, I don’t know. I hope that gym will find a way, I don’t know. I feel like it’s more of gym owners than coaches and maybe it has nothing to do with money. But I worked at a gym where they had one person whose entire job, that’s all she did, was host the meets because this was the biggest revenue stream. I was like what?

DEAN: Oh they make thousands of dollars with these meets.

JESSICA: Right, and I was like wait a minute. Everyone pays for classes right? Shouldn’t this be enough for revenue? It was a totally different system, the economic system was completely different than it used to be. Yeah I just think it’s kind of sad because I really liked the intimacy of the meets that used to happen.

DEAN: I totally agree with you. I think maybe that’s why I like high school. Personally, I like high school and college better because I know how long I’m going to be there. I know they are all going to sort of know each other and have a good time when they’re there. Now it’s like you warm up, compete one event. You warm up, you compete another event. You’ve got seventy kids wandering around, twenty coaches wandering around and nobody ever knows what’s going on. Was she competing or was she warming up? Because I’ve seen this as a parent too when my daughter was doing gymnastics. Even though I knew sort of how things worked, somebody knock on me when she’s competing because otherwise I’m just sitting here.

JESSICA: Right exactly.

DEAN: Yeah it’s not what I like but you know, I’m not the gym owner. I’m not having to pay the bills. I think a lot of it has to do with money though.

JESSICA: Is there something that you just want to stab your eyes out when you see it? Like layout layout on floor as a middle pass? Are you just like oh my God can we please change this rule? If I have to see this again I’m just going to fall over in my chair dead.

DEAN: Well you know, no. Because you see it all the time and you sort of get maybe immune to it. But I’ll tell you when you see a middle pass that’s something different from that, you kind of get excited. Wow, she did something harder than a front layout front layout woo!

JESSICA: Yes. Ugh every time I see a front layout front layout, I just want to throw my arms up in the air.

DEAN: It’s a very used connection.

JESSICA: Yes. Okay one of our listeners wrote in and she has a question for you: I want to know why front double fulls and Rudis have a bigger value in NCAA, yet why back tumbling is devalued. Please ask. Thoughts on this? Is that totally accurate what she’s asking there?

DEAN: Yeah pretty much. Front twisting skills are worth more than back twisting skills. I think it’s just the evolution of the sport. I mean they used to be, go back twelve years ago, they were worth even a lot more. Oh gosh, maybe even four years ago, five years ago and front layouts were C’s four years ago.Then they were put down to B’s in the last cycle. All the higher skills went down of course also. So I think it’s just been an evolution. Many years ago, we never saw, ever ever saw front tumbling. You might see a front handspring front tuck and that was like oh pretty cool. But you never saw front layouts. You know, if you saw a Rudi, it was like wow.

JESSICA: Right because….so I think a lot of people don’t even know about the fact that like basically front tumbling was sort of, it disappeared for a period of time in gymnastics. Then it came back. Can you talk about kind of why that happened and then why it changed? Was it like injuries or something?

DEAN: I have no explanation for it. You’re absolutely right. You never saw front tumbling twenty years ago. It just did not happen. And over the years, I think people….maybe it had something to do with the floor. The mechanism of the floor itself. It’s the only thing I can think of. It just wasn’t trained. It wasn’t done. Nobody did it. And when it started coming back, you know a lot of people can do it now. And they can do it really really well and get some decent bonus for doing it too.

JESSICA: Are there still some front skills that men are allowed to do that women aren’t? I remember for a while it was a one and a quarter. Like everybody at my gym did that a long long time ago. And all of a sudden, nobody ever did it again. Like everyone was breaking their elbows or something. They were just smacking them on the ground instead of actually catching them in push up position. Are those still allowed or are those out?

DEAN: Those are allowed but as far as NCAA goes, they do have a rule that says you can only do I think, oh gosh I’m going off the top here, that you can only do one

JESSICA: landing on your stomach, right?

DEAN: Yeah and when they were the big deal to do. They were worth more than the skill itself if they were to land on their feet. So like if they were going to do maybe an Arabian which is a B, if they did an Arabian to their face it was a C.

JESSICA: (laughs) to their face.  That’s how they were doing them though. That’s why they banned them for a while, exactly.

DEAN: Yeah so they changed that and made them the same value as the root skill, it’s called. So they’re no longer worth more. So really do you want to risk your face?

JESSICA: Yeah no, no I do not. I have done those many many times. Basically just shoot your feet behind you on purpose. Just shoot your feet behind you as fast as you can and then hope that you can catch yourself before your face smashes on the ground. That is how I performed that skill. Yes. It was not good. It was not good.

DEAN: It would often hurt my back because you would see the kid land and they sort of had this fish floppy thing going on, oh that’s going to hurt her back.

JESSICA: Yes exactly. Because you’re still sliding forward while arching. Nope, that’s no good. Or taking a toenail off when you shoot your feet back, that is another horrific thing that happens when you do that skill. Oh my God I have to curl my toes under right now because I’m reminding myself how much it hurts. Okay so one of the things that of course the gym nerds are always wanting to know about in NCAA is oh this judge is affiliated with that school so they’re totally biased.  Or they shouldn’t be allowed to judge this because they’re always taking this deduction and no one else is blah blah blah. So tell us how affiliation works. Like if you’ve gone to a school and then you graduate and were an NCAA gymnast and then how judges are reviewed.

DEAN: Okay so the review process is the coaches fill out a review or an evaluation sort of thing after the regular season meets and that goes to I think it’s their coaches association committee. It could be the NCAA committee. I’m not entirely sure where it goes.  After that, I don’t exactly know what happens to it. I know the feedback does not come back to the judges so they never know what sort of evaluation they’ve been given. My guess is if a coach has an axe to grind that they definitely respond but maybe not so much if they’re just like okay. That’s just my guess just knowing sort of how surveys work. If you’re upset about something, you reply to it. Otherwise you’re just like well yeah whatever. And you know, I would hope all the coaches respond to all their judges for every meet, good or bad. I think the NCAA committee uses that to select judges for regionals and nationals. However I do not know and I don’t know how they select those judges. I do know that affiliation and NCAA does have rules about that. You can’t donate to a booster club. You can’t work for the school. You can’t be a direct relative of a coach or an athlete to judge regionals and nationals. For regular season meets though, I think it’s just up to the assigners to look and see if a judge has said that they are affiliated to a school and not assign them to a meet where that school is at.

JESSICA: And if you were an NCAA athlete and then you become a judge, can you start judging right away? Or you can’t judge your alma mater for two years or ten years or something?

DEAN: There’s no rule about that that I know of.

JESSICA: Oh interesting. Okay.

DEAN: Yeah we even have coaches, or former coaches that judge also that are right back at it within a year judging the school that they may have coached at if they are assigned such.

JESSICA: So basically the judges don’t self-regulate.  Their regulation is off. Someone else regulates the judges, if someone complains that they’re biased or they’re you know whatever. They’re not a self-regulating entity.

DEAN: No because it’s up to the assigners to assign them to the meets. But there’s no sort of feedback system that comes back to the assigners or to the judges to know, you know maybe they are a good judge, maybe they’re a bad judge. But really who’s call is that to make?

JESSICA: So if you’re the head judge though. Okay let me make it more specific. So if you’re the head judge and there’s two or four of you, whatever. And one person is consistently like five tenths off of everyone else and this happens over and over throughout the meet, what would happen then? Is there some system of saying you know, this person is definitely wrong or the other judges were totally wrong? How is someone who’s not doing well removed, fixed, identified kind of stuff?

DEAN: To my knowledge, nothing happens. You know, as long as they were consistent, nothing would ever happen. They might get bad evaluations like if it’s a regular season meet or perhaps not asked back if it’s a regional or national meet but really that’s about it. But again, if they’re consistent, you know, there are judges out there who are just really really low. If they’re consistent, I think everybody’s fine with it as long as they remain consistent throughout every team that they judge.

JESSICA: Got it. So it would only be if there was a situation that was when it was Yale that they were judging and every time, they only give 8s but everyone else, they’re giving higher scores then that would come up in their review from the judges, from the coaches.

DEAN: I would certainly hope it would. I mean if there’s clear bias, I would hope that somebody evaluates them and somehow elevates that to somebody who might talk to that judge but I don’t know how that would happen.

JESSICA: Interesting. Okay. There are NCAA gymnastics fans who claim that Olympians receive an extra tenth of bonus. Do you think the Olympian bonus is true and are there measures in place to prevent judging bias like that?

DEAN: Do I think it’s true? No. Are there things to prevent that? No. You know, I’ve seen over the past many years of judging, several Olympians and world competitors from a variety of countries and it’s just been my perception of when you see them, they just have a little bit of extra polish quite often than the other athletes do. So I wouldn’t say they’re getting anything special but they’re just a little bit better.

JESSICA: Yeah you can definitely see the difference I think.

DEAN: I totally agree with that. Really when you’re sitting right up there at the event judging, if you can see an athlete and they stretch up their arms and you can see the rays of light shooting out the end of their fingers because they’re so extended and performing so well, it’s like wow that is really awesome. I’m seeing the complete amplitude and extension of that skill, even if she’s just standing there.

JESSICA: That is such an interesting way to see it. I never think of how it looks right from your seat and literally looking up at the arena lights through where they are competing. I always think of rays of light because they are fantastic and sparkles shoot out of them. I love that visual. That gives me a whole new appreciation for how you can differentiate from where you’re sitting. DEAN: Yeah I mean it’s very different when you’re sitting four feet away from the athlete than sitting up in the stands.


DEAN: Let me say it’s not just an Olympian. Any athlete can have that sort of presentation. But for them, it’s quite often you can really see it.

JESSICA: Yeah. And you’re an assigner. How does assigning work?

DEAN: So each assigner has a certain amount of schools that they assign for. The schools tell you how many judges they want. Half of the judges at the meet are considered local judges. And for most schools, local is defined as within 250 miles of the school. And the other half have to come from outside that 250 miles. And you as an assigner are also obligated to assign judges, as we call them away judges from all across the country. Like so for my schools, I couldn’t just assign, you know all my away judges come from California. I have to take from all of the other areas to judge all my meets. That’s it in a nutshell really.


DEAN: Well I guess I could go a little bit further. You can’t have two judges from the same state together. You have to separate them. You don’t want your highest weighted judges to be head judges. There’s lots of little intricacies to make sure there is absolutely no way of having any bias on your panels.

JESSICA: And by highest rating, do you mean the most experience?

DEAN: No the judge’s rating. If you’ve got a Brevet judge, they’re assigned head judge and the national judges would be the next head judge if there’s no Brevet judge on the meet, that type of thing.

JESSICA: Okay, okay, got it. So we’re almost done with the whole bias thing. You know, this had to be half of the conversation. So the other thing that I think I’ve heard gymnastics fans complain about and also NCAA athletes who are on lower, just not the top most sparkly Division I teams, but the teams that are good but they haven’t won a national championship, the leotard bonus. The teams, they could be doing the exact same skill, even better than someone that’s at Alabama but they’re not getting the same score because they’re not wearing the Alabama leotard. What would you say to the athletes that feel like that’s happening to them?

DEAN: Well that’s a hard one. You hear that all the time. I think I will go to my grave being very very adamant that that does not occur but I think it may from time to time. I really don’t believe…if it does happen, it’s not on purpose. No judge would ever, ever, ever do that on purpose. I think some of the difference is, or some of the reason behind that though may just be, like we were talking a second ago the judge sitting a couple feet away from that gymnast and seeing the difference and the experience of that particular judge. They might have seen the day before, say two teams that were in the Super Six at the NCAAs from the year before. And then the very next day, they’re seeing two teams that have never even qualified for regionals. Not to say that those teams couldn’t have athletes that are just as good, but they’re probably not in the same league and it’s just hard sometimes for people to accept that. You know, she really wasn’t as good as these other kids. Those other kids from the meet the day before, they went a foot higher on all their vaults. They kept their legs completely straight rather than a slight bend. I think you will always hear that sort of comment from people and there’s to my knowledge, no way to really say it’s true or false. I think it’s just a perception.

JESSICA: I’m totally thinking about our current floor national champion right now and I’m thinking about this. I don’t think about Michigan as a huge gymnastics school but they have a national champion on that team. So anyway, that’s just what came to mind. I was just thinking about her. Oh and I’m thinking about of course, Jenny Hansen who is debatably tied with Courtney Kupets for greatest NCAA athlete of all time and she was from Kentucky, which it’s Kentucky.

DEAN: Didn’t she qualify to nationals by herself every year?

JESSICA: By herself, qualified and won three times in a row.

DEAN: Yeah she was an amazing athlete.

JESSICA: She’s still an amazing athlete which is even crazier. She went there for the 25 year anniversary of her win or something like that and she’s in the middle of the basketball court at Kentucky and just takes her heels off and does a standing back tuck, you know on the floor, waves to everyone, puts her heels on and walks off. Aren’t you like 40?

DEAN: That is awesome!

JESSICA: Yes, oh I love her! So I have been advocating this for elite, which I feel like elite has had many many many much much deeper crazy cheating scandals than NCAA. And it’s been proven time and time again, bribery and all. They’ve had a lot of problems in elite. So I have been advocating for judges to judge on an iPad so that what they’re judging can be seen live. Because they have a whole system where they, afterwards they’re kind of ranked and reviewed and if you’re off the other judges so much, you know whatever. So I’ve been saying that they should judge live on an iPad and then the athletes and the audience should be able to get this if they want to, should get receipts. You can basically see what was taken on your routine after the meet is over. I think that would encourage more transparency and it would end all the speculation. Every time someone’s like what how did she get that? Oh my God, I’m outraged! It’s cheating blah blah blah. Well if you could just see what the deductions were, then there wouldn’t be any more questions. Like this would put an end to all of that. What do you think of this idea?

DEAN: It wouldn’t bother me. I think it’s sort of like an inquiry I guess. And inquiries are regulated in that the judges don’t only have to disclose their total execution deductions, not what specifically each execution deduction was on. And you know I think it’s part of the way NCAA looks at coaching you know. Because they have rules, and I don’t know exactly how the rules work, but something to the effective of they can only have so many coaches and if you have more people a judge can’t do an intrasquad with the school after a certain point of time because then they’re considered a coach because they’re getting coaching feedback. So there might be something about that as far as NCAA goes to know exactly where the judges are taking their deductions. But the coaches do have a it’s called a routine summary form that they can fill out. We are allowed to give them much more information but it’s all written down. And they do get to know exactly where everything was happening and get some feedback from the judges that way. It’s just not on the web or anywhere people can see it and it’s only from what the coaches ask for.


JESSICA: Gotcha. So really this would just benefit the fans. And who is more important to benefit? Yes, that’s right.




DEAN: Hey they’re the people paying to get in right?


JESSICA: Exactly. We’re the ones supporting all this so yes. I think it would be fantastic. I just want to check on your time really quick because I know it’s almost 1:00. Do you have like five more minutes?




JESSICA: Ok awesome. Ok. What are the rules about contact between an athlete and coach- not athlete and coach obviously. What are the rules about contact between the judges and coaches or an athlete during the meet? I know Utah’s notorious for getting red carded or yellow carded or whatever for having too much contact or intimidating the judges. What exactly can be done and what can’t be done?


DEAN: Really all the only contact that is supposed to happen is a friendly quick greeting, hello how are you, and that’s pretty much it. They are allowed to talk to the meet referee though if they feel something’s awry.


JESSICA: Got it ok this is good to know. See I don’t think a lot of people know there is a meet referee in NCAA.

DEAN: Yep every NCAA competition has a meet referee and the coaches can talk to the meet referee. Some places do have a separate non judging meet referee and some have just one of the judges on the floor that is also the meet referee.


JESSICA: Interesting. Ok. A lot of the on average the scores of the top 36 teams has steadily been going higher and higher and higher in the last couple years. Why do you think that’s happening?

DEAN: There’s a lot of great athletes and a lot of great coaches in the United States.


JESSICA: Yeah we’re kind of the number one team in the world right now.


DEAN: Yeah kind of


JESSICA: Yep. One final thing I know you’re very passionate about and I think a lot of people don’t even know about this and they would love if they actually experienced it is the national high school gymnastics championships. Can you tell everybody what that is?


DEAN: Yeah. We have it’s called the National High School Gymnastics Association. And it’s open to any state that has high school gymnastics. Anybody can join. Coaches, interested parties, whatever, can join. And we have every May, and it’s almost always in Florida because most of the places in the country that have high school gymnastics are northern-ish states and everybody wants to get to the sun. So the meet ends up being in Florida almost all the time. There is it’s called a senior showcase invitational. And it’s open to any state that has high school seniors that competed for their high school to come to this invitational and show off their skills you know. A lot of them aren’t going on to college so this is their last big hurrah. And they have a phenomenal time down there at this meet. Great atmosphere for these athletes for most of them it’s their last competition.


JESSICA: I love that. Yeah I didn’t know anything about this. This is awesome.


DEAN: Yeah we would love to have every state in the country that has high school gymnastics participate in this. I think part of the reason that we don’t currently is there’s no single set of rules that apply across the country for high school gymnastics. The national high school federation has a set of rules but not every state uses them. The other states that don’t use the federation rules, they either write their own, they use some sort of made up rules, maybe based on USAG rules, maybe not. So I think a lot of people are intimidated by the rules. But I’m the technical director for that organization, and part of my job is to help the coaches understand what rules we’re using and how to best prepare their athletes to use those rules.


JESSICA: And I can tell you guys from personal experience that Dean is very helpful when you look at the rules and are like what am I supposed to do [LAUGHS]. I do not understand this. So contact him, he’s really really helpful. And he won’t laugh at you [LAUGHS] when you ask- years later you can laugh about it together. So.


DEAN: Yes funny thing about questions that I do laugh about. I got a [inaudible] evaluation probably about 20 years ago. Somebody asked me first for to give a value to a skill on balance beam of a dive backward roll.




DEAN: Just take a moment and try to picture what that looks like because even over 20 years I can’t imagine what that skill is.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] What? Yeah that sounds terrifying.


DEAN: [LAUGHS] Yes it does


JESSICA: Completely dangerous. Oh one other thing I want to say about high school gymnastics is so awesome is that these kids like the kids on our team that had been doing gymnastics their entire lives and were great. Like we had some level 10 national champions on our team. And no one, their school, nobody knew they were a gymnast. Nobody ever recognized them. And you know you go to those rallies in high school and they run the football team and they run the boys out and the cheerleaders run around in their little skirts and everything. And you know they could lose every single day, they never work out as much as gymnasts work out, and do the gymnasts ever get recognized? No. They never get recognized. This was a way for our fantastic athletes who were at the school who no one knew anything about to be recognized and celebrated by their school. And be able to also contribute to gymnastics by helping the beginners on the team. It was so awesome to see these gymnasts be able to be recognized and acknowledged by their entire community for something they’ve been doing their whole lives and no one at school ever really knew about.

DEAN: Oh you’re absolutely right. I mean I think that’s another exciting thing about high school gymnastics is you’re right these kids could be JO level 10 national champion, no one in the community have a clue. But if they win a high school meet, I don’t care if they were a level 4, but they win their high school meet, they get a write up in the paper, the scores for the meet are in the paper, everybody at their school knows them, it’s totally cool.


JESSICA: Yeah. It’s awesome. High school gymnastics is just the best thing ever. Ok.


DEAN: Yeah and it’s a great way to keep the kids in a sport. They don’t have to be doing double backs and amanar vaults. They can do their little handsprings and they can do their round off back handsprings on floor and they’re still cool because you know what? 99% of the other kids in that school couldn’t even hope to do something like that.


JESSICA: Exactly. Exactly exactly. Such a good point. Such such such a good point. And it’s fun, it’s really fun. And you don’t have to work out a bazillion hours a week you know. So I love it.


DEAN: Exactly.


JESSICA: Yes, fun


DEAN: I mean an hour and a half maybe two hours depending on the program. But yeah.


JESSICA: Exactly, plenty of time. So that is all the formal questions that I have for you. Is there anything else that you want to talk about? Anything you want people to know? Any-


DEAN: Other than that, you know just support your high school, support your club, support your college meets, come to them all. Don’t boo the judges.




DEAN: Because remember, one of the important things for most people who may not know, the judges don’t write the rules. We just enforce them. So we’re not the legislature, we’re the police.


JESSICA: Yeah that is true, this is true.


DEAN: A lot of times we don’t like the deductions we have to take, but they’re there and we have to take them.




DEAN: So don’t blame us. If Suzie bends her legs, I’m going to take a deduction for it. I’m sorry, but that’s just the way it works.




UNCLE TIM: According to Jessica O’Beirne, Fred Turoff is one of the titans of men’s gymnastics. A Philadelphia native, Fred competed for the Philadelphia Turners before becoming a member of Temple University’s men’s gymnastics team. Fred represented the United States at the 1969 Maccabiah games, the the 1970 World University Games, and the 1970 World Championships. But after a string of knee and shoulder injuries, Fred hung up his singlet and became the head coach of Temple University’s men’s gymnastics team in 1976. It’s a position that he still holds today. However, recently, Temple’s administration announced that the men’s gymnastics program would be cut after the 2014 competitive season. Earlier this week we spoke to Fred about the university’s decision. I mean during your time, I’m curious, was this the first time that the gymnastics program was on the chopping block? Or has Temple’s men’s gymnastics program been in this situation before?


FRED: Well in 1994 we had a new athletic director. And his first big action was to recommend dropping baseball and men’s and women’s gymnastics. And he did this 11 days before the board of trustees meeting. And before the athletic council meeting. So we had a chance to speak to their council which unfortunately passed his recommendation. But in the mean time we were able to muster enough public support that the board of trustees was flooded with letters and calls, and they allowed us to make a presentation at the board of trustees meeting. And at that meeting I had the chance to speak and try to show that the reasoning that the athletic director used was faulty. And that it was a better idea to keep us. And another coach, women’s coach, and representation of baseball spoke, and in the end the board voted to not accept the athletic director’s recommendation. So that was a great success back then 19 years ago. And the interesting thing is that the particular team I had that year had three individuals on it who later within the next several years became NCAA individual champions. And we had a number of all american scholar athletes on that team as well. We’ve always had that fortunately I’ve been fortunate that good students as as as athletes. And so this time around I guess the current new athletic director and new president learned a lesson and there was an emergency board of trustees meeting Friday morning. So we didn’t know that was going on. We had just received when I say we, a number of coaches had received a notice that there was a meeting of the teams that particular spot at 1:45 the next day, make sure that everybody was there and that we were going to have some individual meetings with our athletic director the day before the meeting. So I had called my particular time slot was 1:05 that day. So I went in, sat down, and there were two and then later three administrators in there. And they told us they were going to drop seven sports and we were one of them. And I asked if there was any recourse, fundraising would help, and was told no. And the only kind of wise thing I said to them was well your APR is going to suffer when we’re gone. APR is the academic progress rate, and we’ve been contributing greatly to that in the department over the past umpteen years. So then from that meeting I walked over to the meeting of the athletes. And the athletic director came in and just a few minutes told all the teams there that it was discontinuing all those programs, the seven sports represented, as of June 30 so that he could free up facilities and free up money to better the other sports that will remain. So we really didn’t have any chance to make any presentation or rebuttal to the board of trustees or the athletic council. So I assume that this had been going on for many months and in the planning stages and they wanted to make sure there was no chance for us to make a case to counter their case. So that’s the story. So right now what we’re trying to do is muster enough opinion from the public and [inaudible] that says Temple University to let the president and the board and the athletic director know that men’s gymnastics is a gem to keep in their department rather than get rid of. And that considering the things we’ve done in the past, for instance in the 37 previous years, we’ve won our conference title 18 times. And I don’t believe there’s any other team at Temple that’s been that successful in the conference. We also had the top grade point average of all the teams at Temple for the past three years. There’s an award that’s given out for the top grade point average and not only the past three years but four out of the five last five years. So we’ve done very well academically. We graduate everybody that has come in and they’ve counted in the APR which is a measure of graduation rates. So there are all these positives and yet the announcement was made to the teams and the coaches and especially for the teams because they’re the students and this is finals week. They were told this Friday right before study weekend and doing study days. And I’m sure it affected their study weekend of many of the kids getting prepared for finals. But having no forward notice of this and no possibility of a sort of remedial action [inaudible] well yes if you come up with 10 million dollars, that would’ve given a goal to go for. But we didn’t have that. Actually totally endow my program to cover all the costs of today’s rates of return on investment would be a 4.6 million dollar endowment. And then that way salaries are covered, team expenses are covered, scholarships are covered. So I only have four scholarships, whereas the NCAA limit for men’s gymnastics is 6.3. So I have not been able to offer full scholarship to anybody. And as a result I break my scholarships up quite a bit and parse them out to various guys on the team when they earn them or deserve them. Another thing is that means with 19 currently on my team and only four scholarships total, 15 are paying to come to school so we’re bringing in money. More money than it costs to have us. But these factors weren’t considered. So yeah it’s disappointing that the value of having my team didn’t weigh enough in the decision to drop us. [Inaudible] speak of us. Other coaches have things to say about their teams. But certainly we’ve done everything that the university would want an athletic team to do. We’ve represented them well competitively, academically, and we have community service, and we [inaudible] a clinic for local kids on Sundays during fall and spring semesters since 1982. We have a boys team, the only boys competitive team in Philadelphia. And that’s been running for 11 years. Plus we do exhibitions. We’ve taken part in the Special Olympics. That sort of stuff. So I think we’ve fulfilled the direction given by our mission statement to compete well, to do well in the classroom, and to do well in our community. And the sad thing to me is I don’t think these things were taken into account.


UNCLE TIM: Wow. I mean your team sounds incredible and not only academically but also what you’re doing in the community. And I’m getting a little choked up talking to you about this because it’s something that we’re all kind of passionate about on this show. What can gymnastics fans do to help you speak to the university or what have you? What can we do to help?


FRED: Well certainly if you are familiar with Temple Gymnastics or have been affected by it in any way, a letter to the president, a letter to the chair of the board of trustees, a letter to the athletic director can be effective. Other than someone who is very rich out there saying look I’ve got millions of dollars, I’m willing to pay for your program and by the way I have to pay for a women’s program as well because we have Title IX to consider, I don’t think that’s going to happen because it hasn’t happened in my 38 years so far. Even though I’ve been seeking large donations, nothing’s ever come of that. And so I can tell you my email is If anybody writes to me and says what can I do, I’ve got a sheet of facts about the university I can send you and addresses of the people that might be affected by notification, I will send it back out to you and thank you very much for your concern.


UNCLE TIM: What do you think are some of the implications for the gymnastics community as a whole? The NCAA for instance might think about not having a national championship. I know in the past, they questioned whether men’s gymnastics should because they’re so few teams competing. What do you think might happen?


FRED: That got fixed up a while ago. Olympic sports got a special status and they’re not going to take away a national championship unless it’s specifically acted upon by the whole membership. So I think the NCAA will continue to sponsor the national championship even though we are small. We only have 17 varsity programs right now and if we go there’s 16. My bigger concern is several fold. One is that the collegiate programs are a good portion of the training grounds for a national team. They also a goal for all the boys in the junior program and the high school programs to aim for because many of those kids want to continue on in college. There are a whole bunch of club programs, non varsity programs, in the country. But of course people would like to aspire, many of them like to aspire to compete at the higher level, which is the NCAA level. Another thing, let’s see. Another thing to keep in mind is we have six schools in our conference. If we are not there anymore, we’re in essence a founding member, [inaudible], what affect will it be on the other schools in our conference? And I’m worried about that.


UNCLE TIM: Well I’m going to pass you over to Jessica who has a few last questions for you.


FRED: Sure no problem






JESSICA: HI! So we do a little our listeners are all gymnastics fans. And so we like to play a little game on the show called gymnastics myth busters. And we don’t- so we want to play this with you because we don’t often have a chance to talk to a as I said before a titan of men’s gymnastics like you who has accomplished so much and been around and seen it all. So the first question for you is is it true that you have a gymnast on your team who’s six feet tall?


FRED: Yeah.


JESSICA: You do!


FRED: He’s not the tallest gymnast I’ve ever seen. There was a fellow on the Southern Connecticut team who was 6’2. And he was our conference champion back in the 80s. And interestingly in 1980 I did a clinic in South Africa and worked with a bunch of kids. And at the 91 World Championships there was a 6’4 gymnast from South Africa. And of course they had to raise the rings and horizontal bars for him every time he performed. And he came over and says you don’t remember me but you taught me in 1980 at that clinic in South Africa. I was a little different then [LAUGHS]. Said I’m sure you were because I don’t remember anybody being that tall. But of course that gave him 11 years to grow. But yes I’ve had some tall gymnasts. And in fact the tallest was a coach ahead of me, Dave Thor, was a six foot gymnast and he was our top man on the 68 Olympic team.


JESSICA: I love this. And I love that you have all these other stories about other gymnasts because there’s this whole ridiculous myth that you have to be small. And of course it helps for physics but it does not actually mean you can’t be a great gymnast, which you just gave examples of. And what’s your guy’s name who’s the six foot tall guy on this team?


FRED: Mike Bittner is my tallest guy I believe. And he’s a junior.




FRED: He was a former Parkette


JESSICA: Love it


FRED: He has an interesting story too because he had a little falling out in gymnastics. He got unhappy with gymnastics and he was also a football kicker. And he was supposed to go to college for a football scholarship. And he found- yeah he was supposed to go to a different college, small college, but on a scholarship. And he found out just before heading up to that college that the scholarship had been given to somebody else. So he decided to go back to gymnastics which was his first love. And in fact as a freshman I believe if I remember correctly he was voted most consistent gymnast on my team because I think if he did miss pommel horse that year he might’ve missed it once. But I don’t remember if he did miss.


JESSICA: That in itself deserves an award, because that’s amazing.




JESSICA: Wow. Love that. Ok. And now the next question I have for you is we have been trying to find- well let me tell you this. No one believes this story. Everyone thinks I’m making this up. But I swear I collect gymnastics books, I have a whole collection, and so I have been reading my gymnastics books and collecting them since I was a kid. And I swear I have not been able to find it but in one of gymnastics books there is the story of a guy I want to say it was the 60s or the 70s who streaked at an international-




JESSICA: You know the story?


FRED: Streaked. The 74 NCAAs. Yeah I know who he was.




FRED: And I was there and I watched it. Unfortunately I had my camera in my lap because I thought he was coming out a few minutes later. But yeah so the 1974 NCAAs it was held at Penn State. Just before the meet started a young man walked out with a stocking on his head, in the corner, raised his hand, did a round off flip flop back somersault and ran off the floor with policemen chasing him.


JESSICA: See no one believed me, I wasn’t making it up!


FRED: Yep and he ran behind the stands out to the parking lot where another friend of mine happened to be waiting with a van. And the guy ran into the van, he shut the van, and as the police came up to my friend with the van he said I just saw a naked guy run out into the parking lot. And of course the policemen were all there. And when the streaker came into the gym to sit down in the stands with his clothes on, of course we all stood up and applauded him.




JESSICA: This is the best thing ever.


FRED: And I actually have a video tape of this because [inaudible]. Not a videotape but a dvd. At that time it was film, film of him doing this. Very interesting. Yeah it happened, it actually happened.




JESSICA: This is the best gym myth busters ever in the history of the show oh my god. No one believed me oh my god I love this. That you guys had this planned out so well. He had a plan to escape. This is the best.


FRED: Oh yeah it was well thought. He did this on a bet by the way. The story is a couple people I know said I’ll give you $50 if you do this and he said alright. Two people did that so he got $100 for doing it.


JESSICA: And that was-


FRED: You’ve got to remember in the 70s streaking was a thing. People would streak all the time.


JESSICA: Oh yeah it was no-


FRED: It was the thing to do.


JESSICA: Oh my god. That is just fantastic. Oh my god I love it. Next time you see him, shake his hand. I need to buy a beers on me. I’m going to somehow, this is just the best thing ever. I love it. I love it. So recently we asked our listeners if they had ever had a leotard or singlet for the guys related injury. We had the story of someone I think it was an Oregon State gymnast who had a sparkle on her face then she fell on the beam and slid on her face so she ended up with a giant scratch from those face sticker sparkles they had. So we were like maybe this has happened, see they’re dangerous. These sparkles, that’s why we’re against them. So we wanted to know if anyone had had a leotard related injury. And we got a really funny story. So I wanted to know since you wore suspenders in your competitive days, if you ever had a suspender related injury or they ever snagged on anything or you know what were the hidden dangers?


FRED: I’ll give you a good story.


JESSICA: Ooh tell us


FRED: I have a good story of this. When Marshall Latimer was a freshman at Penn State at the time we wore suspenders, we was on floor exercise. And the pants that we had, and we wore shoes and pants on floor. And somehow during his floor exercise, his shoes came off his feet but they were held in place by the straps that we had around the feet. And so he’s performing with flapping shoes on his feet right? Then the next event is pommel horse. And in the middle of his routine, one of his suspenders slipped down onto his arm. Then as he’s still in the routine he’s trying really hard to get his arm out of his suspender. And he’s good enough on pommel horse to stay on, but you can imagine the gestures he was making during the routine. So he lands and he walks by our bench our assistant coach says to him Marshall you better make sure your pants are on tight on the next event. And you know what’s coming. But that was the biggest problem with uniforms that I saw. Other than in high school one of my friends wore loose shorts and as he did a vault over horizontal bar he caught his shorts in his hands. And of course they ripped off his body. And at that time we wore a jock strap underneath our shorts. We didn’t have- so he was hanging on the bar with his shorts in his hands in his jock and he was so embarrased he ran into the locker room and wouldn’t come out.




FRED: So there’s a couple good stories for you.






FRED: We always caution people that you don’t wear loose shorts. And I’ve seen in clinics I’ve seen kids get caught in their shorts when they’re doing some hip circles on the bar and they get stuck because their shorts had wrapped around the bar and we had to unwrap them.


JESSICA: Oh my god. Oh I can’t even imagine the embarrassment. Oh my god. And of course I would be the one that would bring it up constantly. Like are you sure your shorts are tight enough? Are you wearing your underwear this time? Because we don’t want to see your jock strap.


FRED: It gives us lots of fodder for fun.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Oh my god this is fantastic. Well. I want to thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today.


FRED: Just remind anybody who is interested in helping us out and writing to any of the administrators send an email to And I will immediately send you the fact sheet I put together. And you can compose whatever you want.


JESSICA: Excellent


FRED: I want the university to know that the public out there is concerned about Temple men’s gymnastics.


JESSICA: We will absolutely do that. And I just want to tell you on a personal note as a person I’m from Pennsylvania and my dad’s whole side of the family is from Philadelphia. And my niece now lives in Philadelphia. And I know from personal experience how very difficult it is to find a gymnastics school in the city itself, city proper. So I just want to thank you so much for having this program, having a club that’s gone on for all these years because it really is difficult in the actual city to find a gymnastics program. And I hope that will continue for many years to come.


FRED: I certainly do too


JESSICA: And the beers are on us next time we meet somewhere.




JESSICA: So we’re going to talk to Jill Hicks about early recruiting today. Jill Hicks is a former elite gymnast. She’s a long time very successful NCAA coach for Oregon and for Fullerton. She now runs Jill Hicks Consulting. It’s a service that helps gymnasts get one of those coveted NCAA scholarships. So thank you for joining us. And let’s talk about what you found out about early recruiting. We’ve discussed this a little bit on the show. We think it’s crazy and ridiculous and I think we’re universally against having 13 year olds decide which gym they’re going to go to.


JILL: Right


JESSICA: So what did you find out?


JILL: Well, it’s not real comforting. And definitely the conclusion from every single one of them, from the strong programs to not as strong do not like early recruiting. And of course some of the coaches have been in gymnastics, college gymnastics for a long time, are very discouraged because they don’t think it’s going to change. Once the genie was out of the bottle, they feel like it’s not going to go back in. So that’s kind of overall consensus that I got from all the coaches. Even some very angry frustrated coaches feeling like their hands are tied they have to do it because everyone’s doing it and they don’t agree with it and don’t like it. So that was the overall conclusion.


JESSICA: And so just to give our listeners a little perspective we talked about this on the show with an example, big example was Lexie Priessman who was a huge recruit. Everyone wanted her. Amazing elite. And then she ended up committing early to Georgia I think when she was 14. I think she was a freshman. And then you know and now she has decided to go elsewhere and she’s going to LSU. And this leaves Georgia in a predicament where they right now have an empty, last time I checked they had an empty recruiting spot. And so you know this is kind of the situation but it’s like and we also talked about how there’s no NCAA rule about this because it was just a verbal commitment. Verbal commitments, they do not regulate. But they could. They could make a rule that said you can’t commit verbally or otherwise before this a certain age or whatever. So what else did you find out?


JILL: Well, so basically there’s an association or group of coaches that do proposals every year to the NCAA from each sport. And that’s really the only way that something gets changed. And you basically come up with a proposal then all the coaches have to vote on them. And then they send it to the NCAA and hope that they’ll take a good look at it. There’s always pros and cons to that and change is always very slow. And so that’s why I think a lot of the college coaches in gymnastics feel like nothing’s going to change because of that process, number one. And then number two, gymnastics isn’t one of their high priorities so a lot of these rules are based on several sports, not just gymnastics. And they really don’t have the money or the time to monitor. So if they make changes and make them really strict, we’ll have to be able to follow through with monitoring those rules. And they don’t want to have to do that, NCAA. That’s the whole problem. I was doing some research last night in all different sports like lacrosse and football and basketball and they actually make rules more lenient it looks like the NCAA’s decided. So they won’t have any- yeah they won’t care how many phone calls you make, they’re not going to care how many times you go visit. They’re looking at maybe even making opening all that up. So what I thought about the most is ok so what can the recruits do to deal with this issue. What can they do to be proactive to still get recruited, to still in the end end up at the school that’s a really good fit for them. That’s sort of what I feel like I have such a voice in now with my company, in helping kids hopefully think through things that- the biggest problem is fear and pressure. So everyone makes decisions fast.


JESSICA: Yeah I’ve heard crazy stories from recruits where they’ve been put in a room with two other recruits and they’ve said ok we only have three spots, you have to commit right now or we cannot offer you a scholarship. Which isn’t true. And they just tell them that so they’ll commit right away.


JILL: Yeah the biggest problem is lack of knowledge because how can parents keep up with all this. They just can’t. And so that’s where I think my voice has been the loudest in helping parents just to relax and know that ok here’s how it works, here’s what our plan is, here’s how you can do that. And you don’t have to worry about these five things, you just need to focus on these two things. Then they relax. And hopefully like I said come to the end of finding the right fit instead of the fast fit or the fearful fit.


JESSICA: So how can recruits and parents, how do they, how can they stop this. I mean besides saying I’m not ready to recruit, commit until I actually sign on the dotted line. What can they do?


JILL: My company is mainly geared toward more the natural level 9 turning level 10 into high school, maybe going to Nationals their sophomore year then doing well their junior year, which is kind of actually I think the right maturity timing for a lot of the JO kids. And those are mostly my clients. And so they’re not feeling as much pressure as a freshman because they’re just becoming level 10s. So that’s one game that they have to figure out. They have to just stay calm and I keep telling them you know don’t be disappointed and don’t quit the sport because you think you’re too far behind. Because actually there will be scholarships available. And it’s just going to look a little later.


JESSICA: And can you like this problem where they said they only have this scholarship and if you don’t commit right now we’re going to give it to so and so. Is there any way for them to say well can you actually write down for me your spots over the next three or four years so I can see what you’re talking about that you really don’t have this spot? Like is there something evidence based something know what I mean? Because it’s hard to think about when you don’t know how this whole thing works that you have to plan two or three years ahead for what openings you’re going to have.


JILL: Yeah totally. I think parents don’t realize that’s the thing I find is parents are paralyzed in the moment because they just don’t know is it appropriate to even ask this, is it appropriate to ask that. I give all my clients a whole list of questions to ask when they walk into the coach’s room. I always love that as a coach. It showed me one that they really thought through things, and two they’re making it personal to them what kind of questions do they have. They care. And they’re leaders. So I always liked being questioned. I thought that was always a good thing. Some of the colleges that I sent out that email to and they responded even said I will never recruit a freshman in high school. They’re just adamantly against it. And they don’t think it’s right, like morally ethically. Like how can you ask someone for a commitment when you know they don’t even- this is their first year stepping onto high school let alone college.


JESSICA: And this is the thing that’s crazy is look at Oklahoma. Which I don’t know if they’ve done any early recruiting, I haven’t heard anything. Maybe I’m totally wrong. But Spanny Tampson who’s on our show, she calls them the ninja level 10s. Because before they get there, you’ve never heard of anybody really on that team. And they are incredible. Incredible. I’m like you know they’ve gotten to this amazing, they were on this incredible rise in NCAA. And they’re not doing this.


JILL: No. I really value KJ’s recruiting. In fact when she writes about her recruits I don’t know if you know this. But when she wrote about just now signing, she really looks for character. And kind of person that their athlete is. And it’s paying off. I mean obviously she has to have the talent but I think she really likes the level 10s that aren’t burned out and really do have a passion for the sport. In fact I twittered once about passion and heart, and I remember she retweeted it and wrote me back. And I really think that you know and she has some clubs that she really does go to that are her go to clubs where she recruits from. And that’s what you’re going to see more of. I mean it makes sense. It’s like their only form of security is-


JESSICA: Well yeah and I can understand that. I remember hearing from one coach that said he would never ever recruit from a specific gym before because you’re not allowed to ask about injuries before they get to the club and both times he ended up with gymnasts who had multiple fractures and herniations in their backs. And he was like this is so irresponsible. How could these coaches there be letting these kids work out like this. And then it was heartbreaking for the kids too because, ugh. So it’s understandable. So we had a question from one of our listeners who wrote in. And her daughter is a level 9. And she said she’s average on all three events, but she could be an elite on bars. Now this is coming from the mom. But I’m assuming maybe she knows the skills and she’s really really good on bars. So she asked if her daughter should market herself specifically like emphasize, I don’t know specifically as a specialist or if she should say I’m amazing I could fill just this spot for your team.


JILL: Yeah I did that for one of my clients. She was a specialist on vault. And we actually because she was so weak on one other event and ok on the other two, we actually didn’t even post her videos of her weakest event. We just highlighted on her webpage the specialist on vault. You never know. You never know what a coach is looking for. And they could have a really really bad year on bars and maybe only have three kids that they know coming in that are going to be a 10 start value for whatever reason on that event. And they could just scoop up that level 9 kid.


JESSICA: Yeah this totally reminds me I was just talking to a coach who only has I think she was saying she only has four or five people who can even vault at all. Like are capable not injured, whatever.


JILL: Yeah we did that once at Oregon State. We totally did that. We found this girl, she was a cheerleader. And she’s like yeah I do vault. And she was a really good tumbler. We were at a basketball game or something and saw her tumbling and were like do you vault? And she was like yeah I do a handspring front. And we were like well would you be interested? We were that desperate.


JESSICA: Yeah that happens you know. Even big programs, it happens.


JILL: Oh yeah. We did that for sure. Yeah. Mhmm.


JESSICA: So there is another coach I was talking to asked me to mention specifically on this show Wildfire Gymnastics and their recruiting page. Because she said that as a coach, this is hands down the best recruiting page she has ever seen that a gym has. So this isn’t the individual gymnasts. This is the gym. Value added for all you gym owners and coaches. If I’m a parent and I’m looking to get back my money from all these years of gymnastics lessons and there’s a chance, I want a gym that’s going to help my kid get recruited. So tell us about Wildfire page and what makes it so good. From a coach’s perspective why it’s so amazing.


JILL: He is constantly posting the kids in practice. So he gets it. He gets that social media is really the place where people are, coaches are. And so he’s taking the time out of his day to put recruiting as a priority. I mean he’s a great guy and he really feels like that’s his part of his job is to help these kids find colleges. And if you walk in their gym even, I don’t know if you’ve ever been to Wildfire, but they have flags of all the colleges. And they’re beautiful. Big flags of all the-


JESSICA: That’s a great idea


JILL: schools their kids have gone to. Yeah so he’s really setting a tone with parents and kids that this is a goal. The actual webpage is good because it has the athlete, it has all the stuff you’d want on a webpage. All the videos and some personal information or stats of their meets.


JESSICA: Yeah every score they’ve ever had


JILL: Every score


JESSICA: And the skill chart. That was what blew me away. I was like this is what coaches want to know, can you do an E something on floor. That’s huge for us you know.


JILL: Yeah. And really coaches take less than two minutes on a kid. Less than two minutes. I have to always remind parents because they always want to write these long great things about their daughter which their daughters are all great, but coaches care about their skills and their GPA in the beginning. Those are the two things that matter. Then if they fulfill those two things then they might read a paragraph about your daughter.


JESSICA: We always promote on this podcast how you never have to give up. If artistic gymnastics isn’t for you, or you are burnt out, there’s another gymnastics sport you can do. You could do acro, you could go into tumbling, you could go on to trampoline, you could do group gymnastics. There’s tons of things. Can you tell people about this new scholarship opportunity for gymnasts I think a lot of people don’t know about?


JILL: Sure. There’s quite a few gymnasts now that are getting recruited to do acro tumbling I think is what it’s called. I know University of Oregon has a program, and they do have scholarships. I don’t know the details. I’m hoping to call the coach and find out more. I know she showed up at Wildfire and looked at a bunch of their gymnasts. And basically I watched some videos and they do some basic tumbling. I think I saw a girl do a double full. But they do a lot of, the need a lot of stronger kids to hold the smaller kids. But they all have to be able to tumble I believe it looks like. But it’s not anywhere near the difficulty that we’re used to in level 10 gymnastics especially elite. So it’s kind of a nice opportunity for some kids who might be injured, have shoulder injuries and they can’t do bars anymore, it’s a nice program to look into. And I think there’s seven universities that have programs and they’re adding more. So might be something some kids should look into.


JESSICA: Yeah acrobatics and tumbling. And can I just say my favorite things about this is it’s not cheerleading, it’s nothing like cheerleading, and you don’t have to dress slutty to do this sport. So you can wear [LAUGHS] you get to wear clothes. You don’t have to do flips in a skirt, which is why I can’t stand cheerleading. But anyways yes, they wear really cool outfits. Like I love, they have these arm sleeves and I love this whole sport is so cool. I’m so excited about it.


JILL: And one thing is their [inaudible]. Think of all the gymnasts in Texas. All those clubs. So they’re going to probably do really well in it. Yeah and someone said Hawaii was adding but I don’t know that that’s true. But wouldn’t that be great?


JESSICA: Who wouldn’t want to go there?


JILL: Anyway, that’s about all I know. I’m looking into it more because two of my clients I think are going to go that direction.


JESSICA: That’s so cool, I love this. Awesome well thank you so much for joining us today. Can you tell people where they can find you online, what your website is?


JILL: Sure. Jhicksconsulting. And I also have a Facebook page and you can find me there. Or Twitter.


JESSICA: Thanks so much!


JILL: Thank you for having me.




ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.




JESSICA: This is audio from video shot inside Temple University when the student athletes were told the Friday before finals week that their sports were being cut.


SPEAKER: [inaudible] it has become impossible for this mission to be accomplished between [inaudible]. I made a recommendation that was approved by the president and the board of trustees to eliminate seven sports effective July 1 2014. The seven sports are baseball, softball, men’s crew, women’s rowing, men’s indoor and outdoor track and field, men’s gymnastics. For all the student athletes on scholarship, you will be contingent to receive those scholarship [inaudible]. For the student athletes that choose to transfer we will assist you in any way and you will be eligible to compete at your new institute. I totally understand your pain and disappointment. This is very difficult for me, my staff, my coaching staff. However at the end of the day, this is the right thing to do to maintain [inaudible] where we can compete [inaudible]. We cannot continue to pretend we don’t have a problem and provide a service [inaudible]. I’m very sorry, [inaudible]. Have a packet for you guys that we will share with you when we finish that will provide a lot of good information [inaudible] and a lot of questions I know you guys will have. Thank you.



[expand title=”Episode 66: Classic Episode with Simone Biles”]

CHILD: Welcome to this GymCastic classic episode. This interview with world champion Simone Biles and her coach originally aired in May before Simone became the all around world champion. This classic interview is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. One of my favorite things to do is play on the monkey bars. I even have the calluses on my hands to prove it. Tumbl Trak has adjustable rings that can attach almost anywhere, including playground swing sets. I like the rings because I can practice my skin the cats and pull ups. The rings and much more are on sale for 10% off right now at Tumbl Trak. That’s Please enjoy this week’s interview.




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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: So Simone Biles joined us and then we got to talk to her coaches Aimee Boorman and Luis Brasesco. They coach her at Bannon’s Gymnastix with an X in Houston, Texas. They’ve been coaching her since she very first started gymnastics. After her third class, they started with her. Simone Biles has only been an elite since 2011. She made her debut this year at the American Cup where she was leading the competition until she fell on beam. And then she placed second to Katelyn Ohashi, who is also coincidentally, her bestest buddy in the whole entire world. And then she went on to go to Jesolo and the European meets and took first all around in Jesolo. And of course, she has the most insane vault ever. She does a 2.5 and sticks it. Her legs are straight, her toes are pointed, her hips are flat. It’s absolutely beautiful. She scored a 15.7 on it at the American Cup. The thing that’s so interesting about this interview and why I enjoyed doing it so much is because we get to hear from her about her gymnastics experience and then immediately hear from her coaches. And they’re really at the beginning of this process. They’re at the beginning of debuting an elite gymnast. They’re at the beginning of having the media be interested in this gymnast. They’re at the beginning of the new Olympic cycle and what could her potential be. And they’re really honest and open about their fears and hopes about that. Like how do we keep her pace so she makes it to 2016 and Rio and doesn’t get left behind or forgotten? How do we make sure she stays healthy? When they have an athlete that’s so incredibly powerful and strong the way she is, and gravity defying, how do they balance the difficulty that she can do and also keep her happy and keep her healthy at the same time? I thought it was fascinating to hear about this. Especially when they talk all about what they do at camp, who they’re learning from, how they sneakily introduce new skills to put into Simone’s head. I wonder if she’s going to hear this interview and now she’s going to know how they do that. I just loved hearing from both sides back to back. I hope you guys enjoy it and give us feedback and let us know what you think of this back to back format and the juxtaposition of the athlete and then the coaches. We really really enjoyed talking to them and they totally gym-nerded out with us. Especially the coaches.




JESSICA: First, can you take us through what a normal day is like for you? Just kind of how your entire schedule is on a regular day?


SIMONE: So everyday I get up at 7 and then I get dressed and everything. Then, I go to the . kitchen and I make my breakfast and then me and my sister leave at 8. We drop my sister off at school and we’re at the gym at 9 and morning practice is 9-12. Then I do my school in between. And then practice is again at 3:30 to 7:30. Then I drive home with my dad and my sister and then I eat dinner and do my school work if I have any, and then go to bed. Well, shower and then go to bed.


JESSICA: Ok. So how long have you been doing homeschooling?


SIMONE: This will be my second year.


JESSICA: What’s the best part and the worst part of not being in regular school?


SIMONE: The worst part is that I’m just by myself but it’s kind of good to be by myself sometimes. The best part is that I won’t have to miss too much school if I get an assignment or if I have to go to camp or travel. I don’t have to miss too much school because I can take it with me.


JESSICA: This is a very important subject that we have to discuss here so. We need to know about your Facebook wife, Katelyn Ohashi. We’ve heard that you two have the nickname “Double Trouble.” So how did you get that?


SIMONE: We actually just started hashtagging it ourselves and then I guess it just started sticking.


JESSICA: That’s awesome! I love that! You guys have the funniest videos and Instagram pictures.


SIMONE: Oh thank you.


JESSICA: So why did you decide to call each other Double Trouble?


SIMONE: Because we….I don’t know. We’re just best friends and our coaches give us nicknames because we’re always together whenever we see each other and we have an inseperable bond.


JESSICA: And Ebee told us some stories. She also told us that you two were like the double trouble at camp when she was on the show. And she said she had some crazy experiences at camp, like being chased by camels. Have you guys had any scary wildlife encounters at camp?


SIMONE: We’ve encountered peacocks but they don’t get too close to us because they’re kind of scared. I think that’s it other than the bugs outside.


JESSICA: Oh are there tons of bugs?




JESSICA: Aren’t peacocks the ones that make that crazy sound like people yelling?


SIMONE: Yes. They’re so loud.


JESSICA: Oh my God. Do they do that at night while y’all are trying to sleep?


SIMONE: Sometimes.


JESSICA: Ok so tell us about the selection camp leading up to American Cup. Did you think you were going to be chosen?


SIMONE: It was in the back of my head but I didn’t really think about it too much because there were a lot of us getting looked at for the American Cup. I was pretty confident about it but I wasn’t exactly sure.


JESSICA: So how did you feel when you were selected? How did they tell you you were selected?


SIMONE: It was lineup I think Monday morning and they told us who was going to go to the American Cup. And me and Katelyn, both of us are on the short end and we were next to each other, so whenever we got our names called, we just kind of high fived each other. I don’t think anybody saw us. We were excited and then we said good job. We were excited.


JESSICA: I love it. And what was it like to compete at the American Cup?


SIMONE: It was a great opportunity to go and represent the United States and since it was my first international meet and my first senior meet, it was really fun.


JESSICA: Did it help to have Katelyn there?




JESSICA: You guys are so interesting when you compete because you have totally different competition faces. Like she’s super composed and focused and almost angry when she competes. You just look like happy and it’s a party the whole entire time. Have you always been like that kind of person when you compete?


SIMONE: Yeah pretty much. I like getting involved with the crowd. I guess I just like smiling I guess.


JESSICA: How’d you feel about your performance? How’d you feel about how you did?


SIMONE: I was pretty happy with how I did. I mean I’m disappointed that I fell but I mean but I can’t do anything about it. And it happens sometimes. But overall I was pretty happy with how I did.


JESSICA: So your next big meet was in Europe. Tell us about that. That must’ve been really fun to go. And it looked like it was freezing. What was the coldest place?


SIMONE: The coldest place was whenever we went sightseeing. We got to go to Venice. It was so cold and it started snowing and we were all freezing.


JESSICA: Ok what was the best thing you got to eat while you were in Europe?


SIMONE: One night after we competed in Germany and everything, I can’t tell if it was like banana ice cream or something. And some of the girls got to get just a little bit of it.


JESSICA: At the Jesolo, I think this was the one in Italy where that confetti bomb went off? Can you tell us what happened?


SIMONE: Well none of us were expecting it and we were standing on the podium and it went off and I got so scared and I fell off the podium.


JESSICA: That is exactly what I would have done. Did they apologize for terrifying you guys?


SIMONE: No they just laughed.


JESSICA: So let’s talk about you redonkulous tumbling. I mean you’re tumbling is just glorious. I could watch you tumble all day long. Are you working on any upgrades this year?


SIMONE: I am! On floor, I’m working on putting them double lay full out in. I think I might do a 2.5 punch layout or front full. I’ve got to see how it all goes, because energy wise, we’ll just have to see.


JESSICA: Have you started working on a triple-twisting double back?


SIMONE: Oh no! I haven’t tried one of those. I’ve done one on accident into the pit when I was learning the double double. I accidentally did it because I just twisted until I hit the ground in the pit but I don’t do them.


JESSICA: So do you think that’s something you’d want to do or does it sound like those are crazy and I’d never want to do one of those?


SIMONE: Those are crazy. I don’t know if I’d want to try it if it was on purpose but if it happens on accident, I guess so.


JESSICA: What about a triple tuck?


SIMONE: I’ve done those on the tramp too. Those are pretty scary. I don’t know if I could do that.


JESSICA: Alright. Let’s talk about vault. So your 2.5 is ridiculous. It looks like a cartwheel when you do it. You make it look so easy.


SIMONE: Thank you!


JESSICA: You’re welcome! Have you started working on a triple?


SIMONE: I have but just into the pit. I just work them into the pit and if it’s a really good day, I’ll put in a four inch mat and see how it goes.


JESSICA: And how are you feeling about them right now?

SIMONE: Um they’re ok. They’re a little hard. You just have to focus on the technique and form so nothing happens. I think maybe I could compete it one year.


JESSICA: Have you worked on a second vault?


SIMONE: Yes. I’ve competed a half on front lay half off. And I’m working on a 1.5 and it’s going okay.


JESSICA: So we told our listeners you were going to be on the show and they wanted us to ask you if you were working a double layout dismount on beam?


SIMONE: No. My coach will sometimes play around and say do a double layout off beam or do a double double and I will just look at her and be like no way! I haven’t ever tried one.


JESSICA: What’s the scariest skill you’ve ever had to learn?


SIMONE: The scariest skill would probably be an arabian on beam because I’m a righty and I twist left so I missed the beam a lot. And then on bars, a shaposh half because I’m short and it’s just really hard for me to try to turn.


JESSICA: And when you get to that point, for the younger gymnasts who are listening, or the older gymnasts because all of them have to deal with fear, how do you get yourself to get over that fear? What is your trick to doing it? What do you tell yourself?


SIMONE: Usually I just count to three and just go for it but then sometimes, I’ll have my teammates cheer me on. And you just have to have your confidence that you know you can do it and then you can usually just go for it and it’ll be okay.


JESSICA: Who’s your gymnastics idol from the past?


SIMONE: Probably Shawn Johnson and Aly Raisman.


JESSICA: And what are your goals for the rest of the year?


SIMONE: My goal is to place top three at Visas this year and then later on, make the Worlds team and place top three there.


JESSICA: Nice! I think that’s totally achievable. I don’t know my opinion is very important but I can see you definitely making that team. Do you want to do college gymnastics someday?


SIMONE: I’m thinking about it and seeing if I want to do it. [inaudible]


JESSICA: Do you have any college teams? Do you follow college gymnastics at all?


SIMONE: I do a little bit but I think if I would have to pick a team, I’d want to go to Alabama or UCLA.


JESSICA: Who’s your absolute favorite musician? Who’d you want to meet the most?


SIMONE: Probably Demi Lovato.


JESSICA: Good choice. I like her. Do you watch American Idol?




JESSICA: I like her on there. She’s kind of fierce. She doesn’t take any crap from anybody.


SIMONE: Oh yeah.


JESSICA: Is there anything else you would like to tell your fans or tell our listeners? Anything you have on your mind? Anything you need to get off your chest?


SIMONE: I don’t know. I’m kind of obsessed with the Kardashians.


JESSICA: Really? What do you like about them?


SIMONE: I don’t know. I love watching their TV show and I just like them as people.


JESSICA: What is it about them? Do they do something specific or are they funny or do you think they’re nice or do you like their fashion?


SIMONE: I like their fashion and I just think they’re funny and nice and they’re pretty cool.


JESSICA: Would you ever want to do a TV show like that? Be on a show like that?




JESSICA: You and Katelyn Ohashi would be hilarious on a show like that.


SIMONE: Oh yeah we could do one of those.


JESSICA: I think you could too. Alright cool. Thank you so much for talking with us and we’re going to get ready to talk to Aimee next. Is there anything important we should ask Aimee? Are there any funny stories we should make her tell?


SIMONE: Maybe about, she has a tattoo on her ankle and they did it upside down I think.




UNCLE TIM: So welcome. You’re one of my fellow Midwesterners. I’m from Wisconsin.


AIMEE: Ah yes.


UNCLE TIM: So can you tell us a little bit about your gymnastics background?


AIMEE: I started gymnastics when I was six and competed pretty much all the way through high school. Then my body was done but obviously my passion wasn’t. My freshman year of college, I did not have anything to do with gymnastics. Then my sophomore year, I went back to coaching and I’ve been doing it ever since.


UNCLE TIM: Can you tell us what it’s like to coach in Texas? It just seems like there’s so many gyms and so many great gymnasts, you know? What’s it like to coach there?


AIMEE: Well honestly, when I first moved here, it was a little overwhelming because even the intensity of the training here, like when I started, I was the super nice coach that walked in the gym that all the kids thought they could take advantage of because I didn’t yell and all that stuff that seemed like it was going on in Texas more. I think it’s probably mellowed out a little bit or I’ve just adapted more to hearing and seeing it. Coming from Illinois, I grew up in Chicago Park district gymnastics mainly. So they were more recreational mainly. So coming down here, it was so competitive and that was probably the biggest impact on me just seeing how tough it was being straight out of college, probably a little intimidated but I’ve definitely grown with it.


UNCLE TIM: And how does Brannon’s brand itself to stand out amongst all the Texas gyms?


AIMEE: I don’t have an answer for that. Honestly, we as a club and Luis, Simone’s other coach, we are very family oriented. It’s always been most important to this company is how the children come out of the program. When they’re done with gymnastics, do they love gymnastics? When they decide they’re done with their gymnastics career, even a recreational kid, when they’re done, are they going to then want to send their children to gymnastics because they had a wonderful experience? And it’s about what they can take away from the sport and incorporate into their teenaged and adult lives as they continue on, even if they don’t continue on in the sport. I think that that’s something that sets us apart.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah that just sounds like a terrific mission. It’s great to see that you’re able to do that from the rec stage all the way through the elite stage with Simone now. It’s really great. Is that also one of the reasons why your gym participates in the Texas Amaeteur Athletic Federation rather than USAG events?


AIMEE: Well we do both of them. We do the TAAF program to encourage our lower level kids who maybe didn’t start early enough or they don’t have the time or financial commitment to put in to be in the USAG program. And so we we’ve got the TAAF program where they can go to basically level 8. And sometimes we’ll have kids who make lateral movements between the two programs. It’s just what suits their family needs the best.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And so did Simone start in the TAAF program or the USAG program?


AIMEE: USAG. She came in with a daycare group, an after school group and did an open gym and her parents said that she loved it and I think she maybe did three or four recreational classes and we saw the talent in her right away and basically started team immediately and did level 4 for maybe a month and competed one season of level 5 and did one meet of 6, two meets of 7 and then a year of 8, 9, and 10. She moved pretty fast.


UNCLE TIM: And what did you think the first time you saw her?


AIMEE: Well the funny thing is that my mom actually had her in class that first time that she came to class. She came to the back and said “Aimee you’ve got to come see this kid that just walked into my class.” I gave my mom the mom I’m coaching and she was like no you want to see this kid. Come see her right now. And I actually blew my mom off and was like I can’t leave. I’m coaching right now. And then I had a little bit of a break and I came up and saw her. And event at, I think she was 7, just her musculature, and she just couldn’t stand still. She was just a little bouncing bean on the floor pretty much. And I believe on that first day in that first class, she did back handsprings on the trampoline because her brothers taught her how to do them in the backyard. This was her first official gymnastics class.


UNCLE TIM: Well it’s a good thing you guys got her in the gym where it’s a lot safer to learn all those skills.


AIMEE: Yes absolutely.


UNCLE TIM: In terms of coaching Simone, when did you start coaching her, right away in level 4 or did you wait until she was in one of the upper levels?


AIMEE: After she finished her level 5 season is when she came into the optionals group. She basically just tested out of the sixth and seventh. In that one year time span, she went from level 5 to level 8.


UNCLE TIM: Wow! Not many gymnasts can say that so


AIMEE: No. She’s an incredible athlete. I think she would be amazing at any sport she chose. But her statue definitely leans her toward gymnastics which is great and I think it’s a great thing for the sport. I think she has a lot that she can bring to the sport.


UNCLE TIM: Well we heard about some of the skills she’s training so we look forward to seeing what else is in store. You’re also one of several coaches who is plugged into their athletes’ social media life. You’re now commenting on Facebook photos, what have you. What do you think the role is with social media and coaching nowadays?


AIMEE: As far as from a coaching standpoint, I like it that I have friends all over the country who are coaches and we can bounce things off of each other and share things with each other because we know each other’s kids and we like to share in each other’s accomplishments. That’s the fun part of it. Or those a couple of great apps where we can email to our friends and be like ok am I missing the problem here? Can you tell me how to fix this? I’ve got this kid here who has this issue and how can I explain this to her better? I think that’s a really good tool. Now as far as the drawbacks, I don’t see the coaching drawback. But I do it as something….like I commented on my kids’ media because I like to look at what they’re putting on there to protect them.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I think it’s good to have another adult looking out there to see what she’s sharing with the world.


AIMEE: Exactly! Not everything we put on Snapchat…..if it’s out there, it’s out there.


UNCLE TIM: Exactly. In your opinion, what really matters at the training camps? Is it verification or the other parts? Is it kind of a comprehensive view of the gymnast and all the different testing that goes on?


AIMEE: Well it’s definitely comprehensive. It is ultimately important what happens when the hand goes up. When they’re saluting at verification…..the staff doesn’t want to see someone who can hit when nobody’s watching and then the second that the hand goes up, they can’t hit. But they do also watch the consistency in workouts. So it really is comprehensive but you better make sure you hit during verification.


UNCLE TIM: Understandable yeah. So Martha also loves a good beam worker. Do you take that into account when you’re preparing Simone for camp, making sure she’s really hitting beam before she goes to camp?


AIMEE: Yes. Yes definitely. Everybody knows, everybody can see her natural power. Everybody watches her floor routine and even with all of the difficulty in her floor routine, she has trouble controlling the landings because she has too much power. In beam, you really have to bring it in. Because if you have too much power on beam, you’re off beam. If you have too much power on floor or vault, you take a step forward or backward. Too much power on beam, you are off beam. So we do really have to focus on that. That’s probably been the biggest struggle, is consistency, having her figure out how to handle that power.


UNCLE TIM: And when you’re kind of setting up the schedule for the year for the athletes, do you take into consideration when verifications will occur? How do you manage Simone’s goals with the national team’s goals?


AIMEE: Yes. Her training does relate to when verification is and what type of verification it is. Because there are times when we will go into camp and like this last camp was considered a working camp. They want to see what you’re working on. Where are you with the skills and the upgrades and all of that?This is the kind of training and preparation they want us….if something’s not working, it’s time to take it out. It’s not play time because it’s never play time. It’s like can we push here do we need to pull back here? Then we have other camps that are kind of like combination camps, half routine camps, see how everything’s coming together, to see how the stamina is. And then there are full routine camps which are selection camps, those that would be going to the meet. That means who’s going to be selected at camp and you need to be able to do full routines at that point.


UNCLE TIM: Can you take us back to February when they were selecting the American Cup gymnasts. Going into camp, did you think that Simone would be one of the chosen ones?


AIMEE: No. What we had told her was that we’re okay if you’re not selected. You’re brand new. There’s a lot of people with a lot more experience than you. But we want you in consideration. You go out there and prove yourself to the best of your abilities so they stop and go oh what about Simone. We’re thrilled and excited and nervous and all of those great emotions when she was selected.


UNCLE TIM: And do you think it was to Simone’s advantage that she was chosen pretty much at the last minute for the competition, maybe she had less time to worry or do you think it would have mattered?


AIMEE: You know, I don’t think it really mattered. She’s a natural competitor. It almost seems like the bigger the stage, the more excited and pumped she is to do well. It’s that interesting balance between nerves and confidence. I think she’s handling it pretty well. Not only was it the American Cup and that’s a big deal, it was also her first senior competition and her first senior international competition and it was American Cup. So it was a really big experience for all of us. We jumped in with both feet.


UNCLE TIM: And how did you balance her preparation with such short notice?


AIMEE: Well we had known before. They had named a few people who were in consideration the camp before that they wanted to see full routines from. The rest of the people coming back to camp only had to do half routines. So they had a top 10 that they wanted to see full routines from. And then up to that, we didn’t really know anything until they announced it.


UNCLE TIM: And one last question about camp. In addition to preparing gymnasts, camp is supposed to help the coaches in the sense that it’s an opportunity for coaches to learn from other coaches. And you were talking about this a little bit earlier with social media. What have you personally learned while you were at camp?


AIMEE: Well I’ve learned that Annie Biggs is the beam goddess. I’ve been learning from her and watching her videos as long as she’s had videos out. So for me, it’s really an honor to be sitting there at camp getting personal advice for an athlete from her. So as far as my events go, that’s the biggest. Mihai on floor, just his experience and what he’s been through with his athletes and he’s had very powerful athletes just like Simone. It’s great the information I get from him. And for the other events, I’m actually going to hand you over to Luis and let you talk to him and he can answer those questions for you. Can I hand him over for one second?


LUIS: It’s a tremendous amount of knowledge for us. Luckily we have the same vision. Sometimes you go to coaches and they have a different vision and technique. Mas and I, we see eye to eye when it comes to Simone and it’s been great. He’s a genius and he makes it very clear. [Inaudible] I think the biggest surprise at camp for the American Cup is the way Martha has spoken to Simone. Having nice numbers, understanding how she works functionally. I thought she was going to be a lot tougher with Simone. Sometimes she was able to back off. She knows how much to push an athlete the way it needs to be. Later we can give more but today, give the best you can. I was so shocked by Martha how she talked to Simone. And I’m learning from her. I would’ve thought I need to push harder because that’s her mentality. More numbers. More leaps. Martha’s just like no. Let’s save some things for tomorrow. Let’s do the things that make sense for her. You have to do what makes sense for the athlete. The thing that’s going to be possible.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah yeah it makes sense to kind of back off and you thought that she’d kind of be upping her expectation when really she said…


LUIS: Yeah


UNCLE TIM: …“yeah these are my expectations.” And they weren’t as high as you thought they were going to be. And have you had any other conversations with Marta about what’s her expectations for Simone will be in the future, what- be at Nationals or even Worlds in the future hopefully?


LUIS: Yeah I have many conversations with her. And one of them was that the fear that we have that the athletes in between Olympics, usually they are- they get forgot[ten] by the time the Olympics come around. So if you look at the history of gymnastics, you’re going to see- you’re going to have some athletes winning and having great success in between Olympics. Olympic time comes along somebody new, fresher, or whatever comes along and [inaudible]. And so what we’re talking about, basically [inaudible] history. What we needed to do to maintain Simone’s fresh relevant [inaudible]. That’s one of the conversations I had with her.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. Yeah I think we can all understand that it’s hard to kind of be on top for four years right? It’s really hard for the gymnasts.


LUIS: Yeah. And this year coming right into the top has come a little bit quicker than what we thought. Thought it was going to be slower, more gradual, and we thought two years from now we’re going to pick and we’re going to have every skill ready. All these parts [inaudible] new skills I say easily 40% still [inaudible]. So it’s going to take a year, year and a half for her to fall a bunch of times, tweak it, take skills out, bring them in for her to just be considered to be in any international meet. And so we’ve got both years done in a few months.


UNCLE TIM: As I understand it, you are the bars coach for Simone, correct?

LUIS: Yes bars and vault. Yes.


UNCLE TIM: Ok and so what do you think the chances- well on vault, what do you think the chances are of Simone competing the triple twisting Yurchenko in the next two years? Everyone’s talking about it, so what do you think the chances of her doing it are?


LUIS: I think she has a good chance. She has a good chance. First of all we need to improve technically coming off the table. We have to get over that problem because she throw it but it’s not technically right. She comes off with a little bit of arch and early twists as well, so that creates problems. That’s why she’s down on the twist. She spins early means she’s going to finish early. [Inaudible] too early then you have to recover the rest of the time. So we need to fix that part. Then after that I think she has a good chance to do it. The other issues is she has to stay healthy and she has to [inaudible] it because you only get two or three warm-ups. She does two vaults, so in order for her to warm up two difficult vaults it’s going to be a matter of what meet are we going to do it. Because you have to take the chance to take [a] fall. And so we have to be prepared. We’re not going to do it at National Championships. Can’t do it in an important meet. So the timing has to be really perfect and the skill has to be pretty awesome.


UNCLE TIM: And how hard is it to coach a skill that’s never been performed before? You can’t really watch a video of somebody else doing it any study their technique. So what’s it like as a coach to coach someone through this technique that hasn’t really been solidified or invented yet?


LUIS: Good point. That’s a really good question. I don’t know if I have the right answer for that. But I’ve talked to people about it, like I’ve talked to [inaudible]. And I have videotaped Simone and we watch and I ask a lot of questions to him. And I tell him, “This is what I see wrong.” And he tells me, “Yeah, correct, that’s wrong.” So that verifies my- this is what I need to correct, and this is the next step I need to do. And I need to allow her to perform a triple full from floor to get the air sense and [inaudible] the triple twist. And so many during workouts. And so basically to answer your questions it’s asking for assistance from other people how to treat the technique and be very very careful and how and when to actually do. Not to get hurt. But basically I guess I’m improvising. You know but I’m not saying, I’m not keeping it to myself. I’m asking questions. I’m not going to say, “This is my work, my brilliant masterpiece over here.” Not by any means. It’s not about me, it’s about the athletes. But whatever I need to do, if somebody comes to me with a suggestion, I’m going to listen to it.


UNCLE TIM: Ok. And I think that’s good for us to hear that there’s so much interaction between the coaches. Because sometimes we get the impression that the coaches are so competitive as well and not really helping each other out. So it’s good to hear that you’re talking to the other coaches and trying to figure out this triple twisting Yurchenko technique together. To go back to bars, what would you say are some of the skills that you would like to see Simone do in the future in her bars routine?


LUIS: Some of the skills, the shaposh half, a half twist extra in the dismount, so a Mustafina, and also I would like to see a Pak full.


UNCLE TIM: Oh wow, ok. Not too many people are doing it so it definitely set her apart on bars.


LUIS: Yeah yeah


UNCLE TIM: And now I’m going to actually hand you over to Jess who’s also doing the second half of the interview.




UNCLE TIM: So Jess, take it away.


JESSICA: And you guys kind of answered this so actually I’m going to skip that one because you pretty much answered it already. No I’m going to ask it one more time. So clearly Simone, she has amazing power, she has incredible- she could do incredible difficulty, like I think she could do Kohei Uchumura’s floor routine. And I wonder how you guys balance her difficulty level with consistency with what’s too dangerous to really try, or when it’s the right time to try something and it’s safe to try something. And do you guy have a discussion about that? Do you go with your gut? It seems like you guys are really careful about that.


AIMEE: Well I would have to say that especially thinking about floor in particular, let’s say that trying new things, Simone drives the bus. She’s really the one who when she’s ready to try something new, that’s when it happens. Because I have total faith in her. I feel like- to go back to my mom again, she coined the term with her, she’s an air sense savant. She knows where she is in the air and when she’s ready and she’s decided she can do something, she’s going to do it. We’re not going to convince her. I think that her body can do anything, so once her mind gets ready, she’s good. And it happens.


LUIS: There’s no, yeah, we can’t control it. We can’t ask her to do anything. And I don’t even waste my time. I know when she’s ready and sometimes I suggest, “Well maybe we should do these skills for now.”


AIMEE: Right yeah we tend to throw the idea how there and say, “What do you think about this skill? What do you think about trying this? Not now, I just want you to think about it.” And she’ll be like, “Yeah I can try that right now,” or she’ll be like, “What?! You crazy?!”


LUIS: Yeah we never tell her directly, “You have to do this…” [Inaudible] say no to anything. “You want a new car?” “No!” Immediate. So we know that when she’s ready, we have to approach her in that way. Very sneaky.


JESSICA: That’s so funny because when we were interviewing her, I asked her- a bunch of people wanted us to ask her if she had ever worked on a double layout dismount off beam. And she was like, “Uh, no.” But she’s like, “Every once in a while my coaches will just yell out like ‘Oh hey you should just try this.’” Yeah so she was like, “Aimee’s said that before.” She’s like, “I’m not doing that!”




JESSICA: Ok so you know you guys both had long gymnastics careers and everybody- this is always a delicate thing to ask but I think it’s really important and I think it’s not addressed enough in gymnastics. And the thing is that everyone in their athletic careers, everyone has negative and positive experiences. Like you just don’t have a long gymnastics career and athletic career without having both sides, the yin and yang of gymnastics and your sport. So it could’ve been with training or coaches or judges or injury or whatever. But what I always wonder is I think the positive and negative are really important and valuable, especially when you yourself become a coach. And looking at how happy Simone looks and how she just looks like she’s loving what she’s doing, so I want to know from you guys what were some of those negative and positive experiences that you brought from your gymnastics careers and your experiences into how you coach Simone now?


AIMEE: Ok I guess I’ll go first. My negative, that’s actually a very easy one for me. I had a coach growing up who really ignored me and wasn’t very nice to me. And what he really taught me the most was about the kind of coach i did not want to be. Because I love gymnastics and from what I heard I was pretty talented when I was little. But it was the relationship that I had with the coach and how I treated me. And I had met with him as an adult and basically he had told me that he was always impressed with me as an athlete but he never told me because he didn’t think I would work as hard. And the kind of person that I was, if he had told me just once that he was proud of me, I could’ve been a completely different- I could have gone further or something like that. So sometimes that word of encouragement is so important to the athlete. It doesn’t have to be constant, just like the yelling and the negativity shouldn’t be constant. A really delicate balance. And probably my biggest accomplishment in life, and this might sound silly to people listening to this or read the transcript of this. But when I was in high school, I was a freshman in highschool and I was competing in the Chicago public school system, and I had set out to win the championships. And I focused really really hard on it and I won it. So to me that was setting that goal and achieving that goal, insignificant as it might have been, really gave me that extra push of confidence. So that was my bad and my good. How about you Luis? He’s old, he’s got to think really far back.


LUIS: Yeah I started when I was 14 years old [in] gymnastics, and it was all good and fine. I had a good group of kids and didn’t really encounter any negative things. It was always fun and I think that’s the thing I remember and really good advice. So I bring everything I know, negative, positive, all, I bring it to the table. And I talk to her a lot. So [inaudible]. Even if it’s [inaudible]. She needs to feel good about herself every day. That will show at the end of the day.


AIMEE: I always find something good that happened during the day and focus on that.


LUIS: Something. Something. So I talk to her a lot.


JESSICA: So one of the other things that we don’t hear very much about, and I’m waiting to- maybe USAG does have like a handbook for this for coaches, but when you have someone like Simone make a huge debut like the American Cup, and people are all the sudden like, “Where did she come from?” And their mouths are hanging open. You know, people don’t think about what it must be like for you and the athlete and for the parents to all the sudden have kind of this outside focus and either advertisers or agents or people from the outside being very interested in the career of your gymnast. And I wonder have you guys had any of that happen, and what advice would you give to other coaches or parents about dealing with that situation?


AIMEE: Well I think we’re still definitely trying to figure that out. We’re just kind of learning as we go because no there is no handbook. With American Cup we did have the National staff sit down with Luis and I and talk to us a little bit about media. Because again she was a junior last year and we didn’t have to do media. And now we’re in this big arena where all these interview going on. So we’re really just learning. I can’t even give any advice except stay calm.


LUIS: Yeah. I think it’s just get a little bit together last year when she won Classics. Just for the training and everybody watching, judges, coach, recruiters, and the media watching training. And people talking to you, texting you, realizing everybody’s watching. Then going into the competition hoping she’s going to hit and maybe finish top six and then she wins. I remember Aimee and I looking at each other sitting down and going, “Oh my God now what?” We had no idea. This is bigger than we had ever thought.


AIMEE: Yeah I think Luis touched on something earlier about doing it for the kids. It’s about Simone. It’s about all of our team members but this situation specifically is about her. It’s not about us. So we’re- that’s why I asked you, “Why would you want to interview us?” Because we’re just in the background. We’re kind of guiding her and her talent and her desire are going to take her wherever she wants to go. But we’re really just kind of here guiding her along the way.


LUIS: And we’re also the one who has to mix it up for her. That’s it. That’s our goal. And actually we’ve taken a lot of lessons from Jenny. Kyla’s coach.


AIMEE: Kyla Ross’ coach


LUIS: We look up to her. Whatever she does, we’ll do the same.




JESSICA: Well I think one of the things is I was so shocked when Aimee said, “Why do you want to interview us?” The thing is all of us gymnastics fans and all those people probably texting you saying, “Tell Simone to point her toes.” As if you’ve never done that. All of us notice when someone looks so happy doing gymnastics and they’ve made it to being elite and they’ve had some of the pressure and they still look that happy. And we’re like, “Oh they’re doing something right over there.” So me as a gymnastics fan, I want other people to know and find out what’s their secret, how are they doing it, and they’re doing a great job so what can other people learn from how they’re doing. And I think the way you guys have discussed your philosophy really explains. And it’s also Simone’s personality. But you know I think it’s really enlightening to hear you guys talk about how you create this environment that’s so positive for her.


AIMEE: I think another thing is that because she came up through the JO program and she had a sense of accomplishment all along the way, she hasn’t been clawing her way at the elite level for years. This is all really new to her. Each level that she competed at, she had success. So when you’re successful you’re having more fun generally. it’s not like you’re running up a down escalator kind of thing. So I do attribute a lot of it to that. And the fact that she’s- in her team here, we don’t have a huge team but in her team here her friends are all below her level. And I think that that’s also kept her…


LUIS: Grounded


AIMEE: …grounded. Yeah. Definitely grounded you know? Because they all have the same training schedule. She does more hours but they have the same training schedule, the generally have the same lesson plan. And on the flip side of that, her going up to camp once a month is critical so that she can kind of keep in mind, “Oh this is my goal here. At gym I get to love being in gym every day because I’m with my friends and I’m doing this and I’m having fun.” That’s another big thing with her. It’s always had to remain fun. Not every day is fun, we don’t play around every day, but we know that the sport has to remain fun for her for her to want to do it. But she’s also at the point where she realizes when it’s crunch time, she’s able to buckle down. She’s stayed the course of a balance of fun and work.


JESSICA: So we’ve heard that Simone- we know now from talking to her, she has a lot of personality, which we all enjoy. I think that’s why her and Katelyn have become little sensations on Twitter and the gymternet universe, and you know does that make her more fun to coach or more challenging or both?


AIMEE: Both [LAUGHS] definitely both. I mean she can make us crack up hysterically but that also goes for having a very strong personality. And if Simone doesn’t want to do it that day, Simone’s not going to do it that day.


LUIS: She’s a diva you know. All those girls are divas.




LUIS: That’s what makes them great.


AIMEE: Yeah.


LUIS: So it’s a challenge. Sometimes it’s fun to [inaudible] with a diva, sometimes it’s not. Can be difficult. [Inaudible] out-maneuver her. That’s the challenge for us.


AIMEE: Just so that everybody knows, when you have a super talented kid, it’s not always the easiest thing to coach.




AIMEE: Of course and that smile that she gives you, the personality, it all comes together. So nobody’s smiling all the time. And she’s a wonderful strong personality. I mean it’s great. I’ve enjoyed the years that I’ve spent with her, definitely.


JESSICA: I love that description and I definitely got that feeling after the interview. Like she’s really fun but she’s like, “I’m going to kill it. I’m going to kill this interview right now. It’s going to be the best. I’m going to answer these questions the greatest ever. And everyone’s going to love it.” Like that’s totally what I got from her. I was like wow, this kid’s not playing around.




JESSICA: So what did you guys think when you saw that video of her trying the standing double back into the resi pit?


AIMEE: Oh my god.


LUIS: Lawsuit, danger


AIMEE: Danger danger!


LUIS: Don’t ever do again. Why in the world are they videotaping that. She’s a great-


AIMEE: Who does that? I’m just going to try a standing double. That’s what we’re talking about. Like Simone says, “Yeah, I can do that.” It was one of those like, “I’m so glad you didn’t get hurt. It was so crazy but it was cool but don’t ever do that again.”


JESSICA: Yep. I think that’s exactly what we all thought too. So what is something that you guys have to remind Simone to do on a regular basis?


AIMEE: I think with me it’s about communication. That she needs to communicate with us. And sometimes we’ll ask her questions and she won’t really give us an answer, but then 10 minutes later she’ll come over and give us the answer. Like she’s afraid to speak her mind at times. And we really encourage her to talk to us, communicate, we’re all in this for the same reason. And so it’s important that you are honest with how you’re feeling about something because that’s how we’re going to achieve our goal. And you know we’re not always going to like what you have to say, you’re not always going to like what we have to say, but we’re going to be honest and we’re going to get through it together. And when the day is done the day is done, and we turn the page and move on. Now we don’t carry things over from one day to the next. Every day is a new day when she walks in here.



[expand title=”Episode 67: Classic Episode with Bridget Sloan”]

CHILD: Welcome to this Gymcastic classic episode. This interview with 2009 world champion and 2013 NCAA champion Bridget Sloan originally aired in January. Today’s classic interview is brought to you by Tumbl Trak. One of the best tools a gymnastics school can have is a cheese mat. An incline provides a safe and fun way to learn lots of new skills. I use the cheese mat to practice my kickovers and back rolls. It’s much less scary to try new skills with a soft cheese mat. Incline mats are 10% off right now at That’s Please enjoy this week’s interview.




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BLYTHE: 2008 Olympic team silver medalist and 2009 World all-around champion Bridget Sloan has started a new chapter of her life as a freshman at the University of Florida. Florida is of course one of the teams that’s highly favored to win this year’s NCAA, and today we’ll be talking to Bridget about the 2008 Olympics, the 2012 Olympic process, and the transition from elite gymnastics to college. Bridget, thank you so much for coming on the show. Well first of all, let’s just talk a little bit about the transition to college. Tell us about Florida and what it’s like being with the team there?


BRIDGET: Florida is absolutely amazing. I can’t really picture myself anywhere else. But the transition from elite to college has been a big change. Really there’s nothing… I talk about this all the time with the coaches here, with Rhonda and Rob and Adrian, and it’s like there’s nothing I can take from elite and be like, “Oh we used to do that in elite.” And when I’m here in college and working out, the workouts are just so different. And the mindset is so different. And it’s all about sticking those landings. Which obviously in elite you want to stick your landings, but in college it is just, you know, that’s really everything is sticking those landings and making sure you just put on the best show. I’ve always said that I love competing because it is like putting on a show, and now that I’m in college I get to put on a show almost every weekend. And so far I’ve been absolutely enjoying it. It’s been a whole new experience for me that I’ve been able to learn from. Every single meet I learn something new about myself, about the gym, about my team. You know it’s been a whole learning experience for me that I’ve really enjoyed.


BLYTHE: What kind of things have you learned so far specifically? What did you learn after your first meet after having gone through that process?


BRIDGET: After my first meet I realized that college gymnastics has a lot of excitement. When I was at the… we competed at Ball State, that was our home opener. And I did not compete floor, but I’m pretty sure I was jumping and screaming enough to equal doing a floor routine. I mean it was… the excitement that was going through my body, the adrenaline, was just, it was crazy to think that I wasn’t even competing but I was so excited. I was yelling, I was screaming, I was jumping up and down for my teammates. You know giving high fives. It’s just it’s so different but it was so much fun. And it’s kind of awesome to be a part of such a great team and with great coaches by our sides, not to mention our incredible fans that we get to compete in front of.


BLYTHE: Now have you done floor yet at Florida?


BRIDGET: I have. This past weekend was my very first time and it was, oh, it was so much fun. The floor routine is obviously a little different than what I’m used to. There’s only three passes, which is awesome. But the dance and the choreography, you really have to show it off. So it’s a little different but it’s so much fun. I cannot wait to hopefully do floor the rest of the season. Maybe not every meet, but I definitely want to compete floor as much as possible because it really is… you know we go out there and we want to represent our school in the most positive way. And I definitely think that us competing and showing off our personalities in our floor routines and our beam routines, you know we fly high on bars, we stick our landings, that’s really what it’s all about here at the University of Florida, and it’s awesome to be a part of it.


BLYTHE: Now I don’t think I’ve ever seen an NCAA as stacked with talent and experience – you know, Olympians, World medalists, everything like that – as this team at Florida right now. And I feel like if gymnastics were kind of a betting sport, a lot of people would be putting money on Florida. Do you guys think that you have a shot at the NCAA title this year?


BRIDGET: You know, every year we get a little bit closer and closer. And obviously everybody’s been looking towards us saying, “you know, Florida’s going to be a great contender this year.” Which Rhonda’s already talked to us about. It’s not really about NCAA Championships, but it’s really about the meets we do beforehand. It’s that experience that we get out there in front of the crowd showing off, so that when we get to NCAAs and SECs, those big competitions, you know it’ll be just like we’re back in the gym or at a home meet. And I’ve always told… my theory has always been, every meet that I go and compete at, it’s just another routine. I don’t like to think of it as anything bigger than just another routine. I just need to hit one just like I do in practice. And that’s my mindset. And it’s been… it’s definitely helped being here and telling the girls, “I know I’m a freshman,” but it is nice to have a little bit of experience. And it’s not necessarily that I explain my ways, but it’s nice to kind of give input. We all have little things that we do. And we kind of feed off of each other. And I always let the girls know, “It’s just a normal routine, don’t even think about it, just let your mind take over and your body knows what to do.” And I think that’s what really makes college gymnastics so much fun. And being here at Florida, you know our bodies just know what to do. We just… I always tell myself I’m just going to go into auto pilot. I’ve done these things 100, a couple hundred times by now, and there’s nothing that I can’t do… if I put my mind to it, I know I can do it. And having the faith that my coaches have in me and my teammates have in me, it’s just reassuring and it kind of puts that little “it” factor in us. And we know that we can do it and especially when we have our team behind us.


BLYTHE: When you’re standing by an apparatus like say the balance beam, and you’re waiting to salute and you’re waiting for the judges to get ready, are the nerves really exactly the same as they were at an Olympic Games or a World Championships? Do you ever tell yourself, “Hey, I survived the pressure cooker that was the Olympics, I can do this here now”?


BRIDGET: The pressure is just so different than… you know when you’re on the elite stage, you’re on podium, you can barely see the faces in the crowd because they’re pretty far away. But man at college, they are right there. You turn around and you know exactly who you’re staring at. So before beam, for example, I definitely like to just keep it calm. I know that once I salute it’s focus 100%. But one of our managers, Brittany Arlington, on the last meet, I just kind of had her talk to me. And we were kind of making casual conversation just to keep my mind relaxed but still in the zone. And that’s just me personally. I like to keep it very relaxed before I salute, and once I salute it’s kind of go time. But for me personally when I’m on the beam I love to sing a song. And it just kind of keeps the rhythm going. And I’m going to go back to when I go into auto pilot. I don’t really think about the skills, it’s just kind of a habit. You know you do the dance, you know exactly what’s coming next, and the skills just come naturally when we’ve done the routines so many times. So I just like to kind of go out there and think about hitting my routine the best of my ability. And I know that my body will take over, and my mind, you know, my mind just sings a song but I know my body will take over and it’ll be the best routine I can do.


BLYTHE: I like that very much, you sing a song. Is it a particular song? Or just humming a tune?


BRIDGET: It’s just kind of any upbeat song. I love to keep upbeat songs in the gym. My iPod has been playing recently, and it’s just been really nice to have that, you know I’m going back to upbeat, but for me personally I like to obviously sing because it keeps the rhythm going. It keeps that like “1,2,3 1,2,3” rhythm and for me that’s what I need. When I don’t stop and I kind of keep going it’s like my body doesn’t have time to think of anything so it’s kind of like a revolving door, it just keeps on going. And for me personally that’s been a great success that I’ve had.


BLYTHE: That’s very interesting. Did you do that as an elite as well?


BRIDGET: I did [laughs] it definitely hasn’t just started now. I’ve been doing it for a while and it’s really helped. Just kind of again keep my mind relaxed but at the same time it’s still sharp and it’s still focused. But I’m not thinking ahead of anything, I’m just thinking about that moment right then and there.


BLYTHE: I see. You’ve gone from training by yourself with Marvin Sharp – so kind of one coach one athlete – to training with about 20 women and several coaches. And that’s definitely been a change for you. And how have you adapted to that?


BRIDGET: It’s been a change but it’s been one of the best changes I could have ever asked for. I didn’t know how I was going to react coming into a gym like this, just because I worked out with two other people max and now I’m with a group of 15 girls and three coaches. It’s been, again, very different, but it’s been such a good learning experience. It’s kind of nice to be able to feed off of the other girls. Especially you know with school and homework and going into tutoring sessions you can get a little tired. But when you have that one person who’s tired but you have 14 other people who are energetic and ready to go, you instantly get out of the tired mood and you’re like “oh my gosh let’s go practice, let’s just go do this.” And it’s kind of nice to have that just because when you’re training by yourself and you’re kind of in a little bit of a slump and you’re a little really tired, there’s not really a whole lot of people who can get you out of that mood. But being here and being in such an energetic facility, I think that’s what kind of helps us get through workouts everyday. Because you’re not going to be super excited every day, but having your teammates behind you, it makes it a little bit nicer to be in the gym.


BLYTHE: I see. And when you’re not in the gym and when you’re not in class, where can we find you? What do you do?


BRIDGET: I am more than likely tucked in under my covers about to fall asleep. I love sleeping. It is probably one of my favorite pastime hobbies. But if I’m not sleeping I’m definitely either doing homework or talking to my mom, talking to my parents back home. But obviously the friends that I’ve made here, definitely love hanging out with them. And you can definitely find me hanging out either around campus or at the apartment complex where the rest of the team girls live who do not live on campus. You can really find me anywhere, but if you’re really trying to find me hard, I will be in my bed.




BLYTHE: So tell me abou the college experience in general. What classes are you taking? And has it been what you thought it would be?


BRIDGET: Well coming to school, I had no idea what to expect. I was like an open book, blank pages, didn’t want to write anything down, and I had really no expectations just because I had no idea what the college experience was going to be like for me. But so far I’ve absolutely loved it. The classes I’ve been taking are… they’re not exactly difficult but they are a little tricky here and there so they keep me thinking. And they’re not just kind of those classes that you don’t have to do anything for. Definitely don’t have any of those. But right now I’m in the telecom major and I’m pretty set with that. I was in the marketing department, or I was going to go into sports marketing, but I decided the business school wasn’t really for me. So pretty happy with my decision into the telecom and journalism school, and hopefully I’ll get into that here in the next couple years. Because obviously as a freshman, I can pretty much say I want to be whatever I want. But doesn’t really start until sophomore, junior year that you really take those classes for your major.


BLYTHE: I have to ask, especially with sort of what’s going on with the Fierce Five, after Beijing, did you… were you tempted to become professional, to give up your NCAA eligibility? Like Aly Raisman did, who was going to go to Florida, and now, you know, has since decided to pursue other things.


BRIDGET: Most definitely. I would be lying if I said I wanted to do NCAA my whole life. The temptation is obviously there. And especially from 2009, coming off of a win. You know you win the World Championships, you have all these offers. But nothing I think can compare to the offer of a scholarship and competing four extra years. You know if I would have gone professional and taken money, it obviously would have been great. I would have made the best of it. But I would have been done. I think after trying for two Olympics, I’m a little on the old side already so I definitely would have retired by now. So it’s kind of a blessing in disguise. After I won, I had to kind of take a step back and look at the big picture at what I wanted to be in life. And I knew that gymnastics was obviously a huge part of my life, but I knew it wouldn’t be my entire life. I knew I had to go to school, I needed to get a good job. So there were certain things I needed to do in order to make myself happy in the long run, and coming to school just seemed like the best thing for me.


BLYTHE: I see. And did the cost of college play a role in that decision?


BRIDGET: Um, not really. Just because if I would have gone professional and taken money, I would have gone to an in-state school. And since I didn’t, I knew that wherever I was going to go, I was going to get a good college career, a good gymnastics life, a good education. I knew it would all be in one package.


BLYTHE: Now you are here in Florida, and your family is still in Indianapolis, right?




BLYTHE: Do you miss them? Have you had any homesickness since coming to college?


BRIDGET: Um, I think the longest period of homesickness was for about two hours.


BLYTHE: [laughs]


BRIDGET: I go through these weird brief periods where I’m like oh man, I really miss my dogs, I really miss my brother, I really miss my parents or my sister. But two hours is about as long as it lasts, and then I realize what a great life I have here. And it’s like, what am I thinking? I have sunshine every day. I don’t have to scrape my car in the morning to get the ice off the windshield. You know there’s all these little things here in Florida that just make me so excited that I do not miss being in Indiana if I was in Indiana. I remember waking up early in the morning and having to go to practice and having my dad start my car 20 minutes early just to get the frost off the car. I don’t have to deal with that here at Florida and it kind of makes me realize how happy I am here.


BLYTHE: [laughs]. I wanted to go back and talk about the Beijing Olympics a little bit. And I realize that’s kind of a little bit ago now. Tell me about the city of Beijing when you guys got there. I understand the athletes were given pollution maps and things like that? And did you share any of those fears about pollution? There was actually a study that came out a couple days ago in which it measured the air levels in Beijing. And they were very alarming, even for… we knew it was bad, but it was even worse than everybody had expected.


BRIDGET: You know honestly when we were there and we obviously were told, you know, the pollution might be something to think about, we really didn’t think about it at all. I mean we rarely spent a whole lot of time outside simply because we’re gymnasts, we spend our time in the gym. I mean I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time in a gym than I’ve spent outside. And it’s kind of crazy to think like that. But as gymnasts we’re kind of programed. We go to the gym, we work out, we do our skills, we come back. And that’s what we did when we were in Beijing. We didn’t really.. I know I didn’t personally think about the air at all just because there were so many other things going on that I think I was almost too young to realize what was going on around me. And I guess when I was there it was just kind of I’m here, I’m at the Olympic Games, I’m about to compete for my country, I’m going to do the best that I can possibly do, and nothing is going to really stop me or stop my team. So the air pollution wasn’t really a huge concern. I know my parents thought about it just because they were more the tourists when they were there. Obviously they went to all of our competitions, but they got to do a lot more touristy things I guess I could say. So I think they would be more likely to talk about it just because I haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on around the world today and – this is going to sound bad – but I wasn’t paying a whole lot of attention to the pollution when I was there. I know for the sports that performed outside it was definitely a concern, but for the sports that were inside all the time it wasn’t really a huge concern. Just because personally, I didn’t notice it. But I was also very oblivious to things, so.


BLYTHE: Well, you had other things to think about.


BRIDGET: Yes. [laughs]


BLYTHE: It’s very understandable. And since that Olympic Games there was this reversal with the 2000 Olympic team being awarded the bronze medal 10 years after their Olympics. And it brought up all of these things about speculation that maybe some of the Chinese gymnasts were too young in Beijing. And they looked very young of course. And I have to ask, do you think someday your silver medal might turn into a gold one? As things sort of come out and the years roll past.


BRIDGET: Uhh…. It definitely could. I kind of want to know what the 2000 team was thinking when they were over there. But obviously time will tell no matter what. If our medal was to turn into gold, great. If it’s not, we still have a silver medal. We still have an Olympic medal which is an incredible achievement and an incredible accomplishment. Either way, I’m very happy with the outcome from the 2008 Olympics, but obviously if our silver was to be turned into gold it would definitely be a great day.


BLYTHE: And this is going to be the hardest question of the interview, I think. But I was watching some video and I was watching the 2009 American Cup in preparation for this interview. And at the American Cup, Marta Karolyi is seen on NBC telling you, “Now that you’ve lost some weight, you don’t do so bad.” It seems like it’s kind of a taboo subject to talk to gymnasts about their weight, after some of the bad things that happened in the 80s and 90s. And I just wanted to ask you about that, was that the first time she talked to you about your weight?


BRIDGET: Actually, yes. But personally you know talking about weight, it’s a whole personal level. There are some coaches I know that are on their gymnasts and their athletes about their weight all the time. Me personally, Marvin and I had a great relationship. And my parents raised me very well and I lived a very healthy life. When I think about food and stuff it was always very healthy food. So I honestly never had to think about my weight. But obviously after the 2008 Olympics I did take some time off and I kind of grew up and turned into a mat… well, I like to think of myself as a mature female athlete. But you know, that’s arguable. But being an athlete there obviously are times when you have to look at yourself and say, “how can I better myself?” And it really depends on your mindset and what you want to do. And for me, losing a little bit of weight definitely helped me. But I was definitely not out of control. I didn’t do anything crazy or make any drastic changes in my life. It was just more so to better myself and make myself the best athlete I could be. And in 2009 that was a great year for me, so I was just trying to make myself the best that I could possibly be.


BLYTHE: 2009 was a fantastic year. I was just watching your performances at the World Championships, at the US Championships, you were just on fire. And then, going into the 2009 Worlds, and it felt like it was you and Rebecca Bross, and one of the two of you would take the title, and it wound up being you, but it was a fantastic performance for the US team and after that, how did you—you had really been to the pinnacle, you had been on the Olympic team and now you’d had this wonderful individual success. Did you take some time off to breathe, after that, or did you enjoy what the past two years had brought you?


BRIDGET: I did. You know, after every big competition, luckily with the elite, we only had a few competitions a year, and our big competitions, our major competitions, were almost always in the October, September-October time. Championships were always in August, but Worlds was always normally October, so we were able to—at least, I was always able to a little bit of time off, maybe a month or two absolute tops, and that was not necessarily taking time off from gymnastics, but taking time off from doing routines. I think the max time I ever took off from not going into the gym was three weeks, and it was really hard because I got super bored. But taking some time off and getting to do appearances, it was a lot of fun, and it kind of made me appreciate just how great of a corporation I was with. You know, USA Gymnastics is an absolute great organization, and they have done so much for each and every athlete who is a part of the USAG, and being able to do, you know, a few fun things—I know I got to go to New York and do some interviews, and, you know, being able to take a step back and just realize how awesome your life is, is kind of something I was able to do after 2009. And obviously I went right back into the gym a few weeks later, but it was kind of nice to just spend time with my family and be a kid. Normally gymnasts accomplish really great things at a young age, so they kind of have to take a step back and realize, you’re only 16 years old or 17 years old, and in my case I was 17 years old when I won in 2009, and it was just kind of like, wow. At age 17, I just won a World Championships. At age 16, I went to the Olympics. Like, it was just absolutely incredible to me to accomplish such great things at such a young age, and it was nice, after each major competition, to just kind of take a step back and realize and appreciate what I was able to accomplish.


BLYTHE: Absolutely. And then after that, 2010, 2011, some injuries, and some setbacks because of injury. How did you deal with that? Because I don’t remember, in your elite career, up to that point, you really having to deal with any injury.


BRIDGET: Right. I was very, very lucky. My coach, Marvin, and—I cannot thank St. Vincent’s Sports Performance Center enough for keeping me together. Darrell Barnes is who I saw almost every day, he’s basically like a father to me. And 2010, I did have an injury. 2011, I also had another injury, so it was something that I wasn’t used to, but at the same time it was something that was going to happen, you know. Gymnastics is a sport where injuries do happen. You have little things here and there. But I guess I was just very lucky to have gone almost 17 years without having any major injuries, except—I know I had a surgery in 2008, in March of 2008 I had my knee worked on, but that was actually my biggest injury until that, until then. So I was just very lucky to have such a healthy body, and I can thank my parents for keeping me together mentally. I can thank Darrell Barnes for keeping me together physically. I can thank Marvin for everything. He really helped me. He helped me shape who I am today. I definitely would not be where I am today without his help. I would not have accomplished everything without his help, so he is definitely a major impact in my life along with my parents, my family and my friends back home who were able to keep me sane and a teenager, so that when I went to the gym I was a gymnast, and it was kind of nice to have that. And the injuries, obviously, they do happen, but it’s the mindset where you’re able to work forward and keep a positive attitude. With every injury I had, there were always those little moments where I was like, “Man, is this when I’m supposed to just cut the cord and call it quits?” And then it would be like, somebody would smack on the head and go, “Wake up. You’re not done.” And it was nice to have people like Darrell Barnes, like my parents, like Marvin, who were able to keep my spirits high, because obviously, when you’re in a sling after I had my shoulder surgery—I had never been in a sling in my life, and when I was in a sling for two months, it was like, “Excuse me? What?” And it was kind of eye-opening to me to think that I wasn’t able to use my arm, but I was still able to exercise and still able to do things, and that was kind of what made me realize I still wanted to keep going and there was nothing that was going to stop me.


BLYTHE: It seems like, in the last couple of years, you’ve pulled out some incredible performances after not having too much time to train because of injuries, and I’m talking about, you know, Pan Ams, when you did that thing to your toe and kind of split it open, or even the 2010 Worlds, and yet when the lights came down and the judges saluted you, you would go out and you would put on this performance that just really kind of made people’s jaws drop, because you looked like, you know, it was just like, oh, yeah, there’s no problem here.


BRIDGET: That is—I can honestly answer that because I had the mindset that, it didn’t matter how many routines I did beforehand, I knew in my mind that I could do it, and Marvin prepared me the proper way that I was feeling as good as I could that day, and I had done as many routines as I could to preform that day, and I’m—you know, I’m a competitor. When I get out onto the floor and am in front of a crowd, I know that it is my time to do my routine. I’m going to hit this routine, because I know I can. And I’m going to hit this routine, because my team depends on me. And having a team depend on you really kind of changes the game from, I’m not just doing this for myself but I’m doing this for my team. And obviously nobody ever wants to let down their team or let themselves down, let a coach down, so having that mindset of, “I’m going to do this because my team depends on me, because my coach depends on me, and because I want to do it for myself.” You know, when you’re out there in front of a crowd, you really just have to kind of grit your teeth and say, “No matter what is hurting me right now, it’s not going to get in the way of this routine.” So that’s kind of what I did after 2009, after I won in 2009 and then I started having these injuries, it kind of made me realize that if I really wanted to do this, if I really wanted to keep competing, I could if I thought positive and made sure that Marvin and I communicated. Communication was definitely key in my training, and being able to talk to him and make sure that if I was a little sore that day, maybe I’d drop the number down to instead of six, maybe I’d do four really good ones, instead of six really good ones. And it was kind of that communication that would helped me get to where I was supposed to be, and peak at that right time.


BLYTHE: I see. And how do you feel now, after three weeks of college meets? How is your body holding up? It’s a little different from having to prepare for World Championships, where it’s that one ten-day stretch.


BRIDGET: Right. It’s definitely been an adjustment, but I’m slowly figuring out that you need a little bit of recovery time after each meet, but it’s been a good change, and I’ve been able to kind of take each meet, relax a little bit after each meet, and then kind of get back into my routine. I was doing really good, you know, first semester, I figured out my training schedule, my school schedule, and I got into a routine. Well, now that we’re competing, I kind of have to change my routine, my daily routine and my weekend routine, but I’m still able to keep going and keep moving forward because, you know, competing three weekends in a row is like, wow. I don’t even remember the last time I competed three weekends in a row. But I’m slowly figuring out that, you know, when it comes Saturday, and we just had a home meet Saturday, I’m going to relax, I’m going to do homework, I’m going to just kind of chill, maybe talk to my parents and tell them how I’m doing, and then come back, on Sunday we have practice and it’s kind of like I’m recharged. And it definitely been a change, but it’s been a really good change, and I’m slowly figuring it out.


BLYTHE: Ok. And one thing that Florida, we kind of noticed over the last few years, is they come out very strong at the beginning of the season, and you guys almost always look like the team to beat at the NCAAs, and sometimes, because of injuries or what have you, it seems to drop off a little bit midseason and come back a little stronger towards the end of the season, for SECs, for NCAAs. And I’m just wondering how you guys are planning to peak yourselves, so that you peak right at the right time, around the NCAA Championships.


BRIDGET: You know, right now, we’re really just training like we would for any other meet. I know Rhonda, Rob, and Adrian talk constantly about the planning and it’s more of a trust in the coaches, you have to put into, in order to have a good season, and I know Florida might have, you know, we come so close sometimes, but at the same time, it’s having the trust in your coaches and realizing that they know what they’re talking about, they’re going to put the best people in at that right time, and again, as a freshman, I’m definitely putting my full trust in the coaches and in my team and we’ll just kind of see how the year goes, right now we’re definitely doing great, we’ve had a few mistakes here and there, but I think personally that it is great to get those out in the beginning so that by the time SECs and NCAAs come around, we’ll be, you know. We’ll be almost perfect. We’ll be ready. Our mind will be ready, we’ll be physically ready, our coaches have, you know, they do a great job with us every day, and they understand that school comes first, but at the same time, when we’re in the gym, we are gymnasts. When we walk out of the gym, we’re back to being students. So its definitely been an awesome, awesome season so far, and I think it’ll be a really great year for us.


BLYTHE: Ok. And, you know, a few weeks ago we interviewed Valorie Kondos-Field at UCLA, and she told us that several of her gymnasts are thinking about staying and competing through the 2016 Olympics, and we ask just about every elite that we have on the show, are you really done? Are you really done? Is there no chance you might come back?


BRIDGET: I’m pretty sure that my elite career is over, but you never know. I mean, I could come back and be 24 years old and just feel great and call up Marvin and be like, “Hey, you want to try again?” But [LAUGHS] I don’t know about that. We’ll kind of take it day by day and see how I feel, but coming to college I knew that I didn’t want to do elite and college, so as of right now, I’ve kind of closed the book on elite and I’m pretty much sticking with college, but again, you never know what’s going to happen, and I could come back, and you might see me again.


BLYTHE: Elite and college would be very, very difficult.




BLYTHE: Going just back to the 2012 Olympics process, did you have any regrets? I know it didn’t end so well for you at Trials.


BRIDGET: I do not. You know, I took a year off of school knowing that there’s always the possibility that something’s going to happen. Gymnastics is one of those sports. We…it’s almost like you take a risk every day. And when I was at Trials, and after I hurt my elbow and realized that I was done-done, at least for a good period of time, it was hard to digest at first, and then I realized, I have nothing that I would change. The memories that I have and the medals that I’ve earned and the experience I’ve had, that I’ve gotten to let my parents in on, and my family…it’s overwhelming to think about, but at the same time, it’s such a joy. You know, 2012 might not have been the absolute best year for me, but in the end I was able to end my elite career knowing that I would have the next four years be, you know, the best time of my life. People always say college will be the best four years of your life, and so far, I agree with them 100%. College has been amazing, and the team that I’m on, it’s just…it’s an incredibly group of girls, an incredibly staff, everybody that comes into the gym, we all know that they’re rooting for the Gators and it’s just awesome to be a part of such a legacy and a dynasty like that.


BLYTHE: Why did you decide on Florida, by the way? I’m sure you could have gone anywhere.


BRIDGET: There was just something about the campus here. Maybe it was the sunshine, and maybe it was the palm trees, maybe it was the great coaching staff or the team, but there was just a lot here at Florida that just I absolutely loved. And, you know, taking my visits, I went to the University of Georgia and the University of Utah, and I could honestly see myself at all three schools, but when I came on to the campus here at the University of Florida, there was just something about it that made me said, I can definitely see myself here. And it was one of those moments where I just walked on and said, I feel like I’m meant to be here. And when I walked on to the campus at UGA and at Utah, I loved it, there was nothing bad I could say about both, either schools, but when I walked on here at UF, it was like I was supposed to be here. There was something, even though orange might not be my most favorite color, there was something here that just said, you should definitely make your way here. The dorms are calling you. So, making my decision to come to here has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.


BLYTHE: Awesome. And just, I have two last questions. They are actually from our Twitter fans, we say, “We’re interviewing Bridget Sloan, what do you want to ask her?” And the first question is, somebody said, “who is your best friend on the National Team?”


BRIDGET: Well, I have a lot of friends, I’m a very friendly person, so my best friends on the National Team would definitely be Alicia Sacramone for sure, the bond I have been able to create with her, you know, I’ve been able to talk to here, even in Florida. Samantha Peszek has also been a really close friend of mine and a teammate that I have kept in contact with, but really everyone on the National Team is still an impact on my life. They did something where it was like, we are going to be friends for the rest of our lives. But I guess my two best friends that were on the National Team were Samantha Peszek and Alicia Sacramone.


BLYTHE: Cool. And second question, how did you decide to keep certain of your elite skills, and do you play around with any fun skills in the gym?


BRIDGET: Keeping my elite skills was just always something that I wanted to do. When I came to college, talking about my routines with the coaches, with Rhonda, with Rob, with Adrian, it was kind of like, we could put all of my skills on a piece of paper, put them in a hat, and draw. And there were just certain skills that I absolutely love doing, and it was fun to play around with my routines and what I was going to do, and luckily I have enough skills that I could kind of change my routines here and there and put different skills in, switch them in and out, and that’s just kind of something that I love doing, and I’ve always been someone who likes to switch their routines around here and there, and coming to college I didn’t want to change that, so when I got here, I was able to sit down and kind of pick apart my routines and pick out the skills that I loved the most, and kind of make the best college routine possible.


BLYTHE: Cool. Oh, and I’m seeing a third Twitter question here. What is something you are excited to do in college that you could never do as an elite, gymnastics-related or not?


BRIDGET: Going to the football games, or really any athletic event here at college, has been so exciting. It’s been so different for me to be part of a college and have that college experience and go to the football games and go to the basketball games, and I’ll be sure to make an appearance and go to a baseball game, go to a lacrosse game, go to a—I’ve been to a swim meet already, but I’ll go to another one, and I definitely think the sporting events here, they’re so much fun, and I want to be a part of it.


BLYTHE: Nice. Well Bridget, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Is there anything else you would like to add?


BRIDGET: Just, Go Gators!


ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: Visit, that’s sportz with a z, and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.




[expand title=”Episode 68: Most Fascinating People of 2013″]

JESSICA: Just a reminder that this show is rated PG-13. This week, our picks for the most fascinating gymnastics people of 2013.




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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 68 for January 1, 2014. 2014! 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 number one gymnastics podcast for all time, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. So let’s talk about the meets that happened over our two week break. Uncle Tim what happened in Tokyo?


UNCLE TIM: So at the Toyota International, I believe it’s called, it was a lot of repeating on the men’s side from the World Championships. So for instance on floor, Shirai Kenzo finished first with a 16.325. On pommel horse, Kohei Kameyama of Japan finished first with a 15.3. Still rings, Arthur Zanetti finished first. And then on vault, Kim Hi Hoon finished first. And Kohei Uchimura won both parallel bars and high bar. On the women’s side, we had Phan Thi Ha Than of Vietnam finish first on vault. Beam was Natsumi Sasada. She won beam. And then Victoria Moors won uneven bars and floor. And Miss Moors also debuted a new floor routine. What did you think of it guys?


JESSICA: I loved it. I loved it. And I can’t believe she’s done three routines this year as you pointed out. That’s nuts. But I love it because I hate it when people keep the same routine, even for two years in a row. That’s ridiculous. Like oh my god. I bang my head against the wall so hard if I had to do the same routine two years in a row. That’s the best thing about becoming an optional gymnast. You don’t have to do the same routine over and over and over for your whole life. Ugh. So hats off to her. And three routines in one year, even better. And not to mention she did her double double and she still stepped out of bounds but it was fantastic. It’s even better. More laid out. She’s getting better and better, more confident at it, so I like- this is my favorite routine of hers too.


BLYTHE: Yeah, agreed. I’m totally a fan of this routine. It has everything. It’s got the tumbling of course. And the double double layout is getting better every time she does it it feels like. And this one, even though it had the out of bounds, was probably the best one that she’s landed in competition this year. It’s also got artistry. And Victoria has such an interesting unique way of moving. It’s got grace, it’s got originality, it’s got a lovely piece of music. It’s everything that you would want in a good floor routine these days.


JESSICA: And no stork stands that I noticed anyway. So she’s choreographing the way it’s supposed to be instead of doing the horrible stork stand. So that makes a huge difference. This is what the code is supposed to look like. If you had an example, if you read the code and were like here’s what it’s actually supposed to look like in practice, this is the spirit of the code. The spirit of artistry, the spirit of what they’re trying to do. There’s no code whoring in it. So, loving it.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah I’m not a huge fan of this new music selection, but I do like some of the little bits of choreography. For instance after her first tumbling pass before she goes into her second tumbling pass, the music just cuts out then theres this CH CH moment where the music kicks in again. And I thought the choreography there was really cool. I also wonder if the Japanese floors helped her a little bit. When we had Sho Nakamori on the show he talked about how bouncy the floor are in Japan in comparison to those in the United States. And I wonder if maybe she got a little extra bounce in Japan and that’s why her Moors was so excellent.


JESSICA: Hmmm. Interesting.


UNCLE TIM: The other big meet was the Liukin Invitational. And that’s a men’s gymnastics meet. And my favorite Oleg Verniaiev won with a 92.1. It was the second time that he scored over a 92 in the all around. First time was at Stuttgart. And he’s the only man to do that so far in 2013. Coming in second was Wataru Tanigawa with a 90.3. And coming in third was Danell Leyva with an 88.2. Danell keeps having some problems. For instance, at the meet he fell on his stretch kovacs. But he did add a kolman which looked pretty good. So it wasn’t quite as scary as Sam Mikulak’s where you’re wondering if he’s going to catch the bar and when he’s going to catch the bar. So yeah it looked pretty good. Jess what did you think of some of the routines that you saw?


JESSICA: Oleg’s was, he does a lot on the side single rail work. That’s the technical term. It’s not on the side. It’s single rail work thank you. I learned that from your-


UNCLE TIM: On parallel bars


JESSICA: blog. Yes yes. And so I like that because that’s kind of throwback. And I think it’s more artistic you know. You shouldn’t just work under the bar and on your arm pits. Move around, use the whole thing. That should be a rule too. Maybe it is, I just don’t know. So and he didn’t get stuck sideways and fall off, so that was a bonus. And I just really like that they do the meet in the gym so people are really close to the apparatus. So when he landed it was like you know it felt like there was a big crowd going nuts for him even though there weren’t that many people there but I just like that setup. And Leyva, his routine was a little sloppy to me. I feel like this isn’t a big meet. So I don’t know if he he might be one of those gymnasts that has gears. So this is a try out new things, see how it goes, have a good time kind of a meet for him. But he looks a little sloppy. He’s always had really nice form and I was kind of surprised. But adding a kolman is a huge deal, so I was pretty stoked to see that. And he went for it after his fall, which was a big fall, which would’ve been like a you have a concussion if there wasn’t a mat there kind of fall. So. Yeah.


UNCLE TIM: A lot of the US guys are adding kolmans. Did you see that Stacey Ervin is working on one?


JESSICA: [gasps] he is? My Stacey?

UNCLE TIM: I believe so. I think I saw that on Instagram.


JESSICA: It’s going to be beautiful. It’ll be the best one ever if he does it. Just saying now. I’m totally not even trying to act like I’m not completely and totally- as if I have been hiding it from so far, you know, that he’ll be it’ll be the best one ever. I’m completely biased for him in every way. So yes take everything I say about him with a grain of salt.




JESSICA: Blythe, any thoughts on the boys?


BLYTHE: Not really. Just sort of what you guys have said. I think Oleg Verniaiev has been a huge talent for the last two years. And really this year, even though he had a bit of a misperformance at the World Championships. He was great at Europeans. He won three of the four World Cups. He’s excellent. And he’s only 20 or 21. Might be 21. He might still be 20. But yeah. He’s fantastic. And yeah I agree with you about Stacey Ervin, Jess.


JESSICA: He’s kind of like yeah.




JESSICA: Yeah he’s kinda awesome.




JESSICA: Yeah. So Blythe, one of our favorite pouty teenagers who with a concussion has decided to call it quits. What’s happening in Russia?


BLYTHE: Well unfortunately for fans of Tatiana Nabieva, fans will be very sad to know that she has decided to retire apparently. And you know she’s had a fantastic career. And so many roles. Sort of one of the Russian teams pillars, companion to Aliya Mustafina, sort of a partner in crime. And just really one of the most engaging gymnasts to watch, on the equipment or off the equipment, of the past four or five years. She was a fantastic junior, Junior European all around champion over Mustafina. She’s been a World medalist on uneven bars. She’s been an absolute badass pioneering her toe on tkachev straight over the bar on uneven bars. And she’s really been helpful for the Russian team as they sort of built towards 2012. Unfortunately of course she did not make that Olympic team. And 2012 was kind of the worst year of her career. But it was wonderful to see her come back at the Universiade this summer and really look much more mature, focused, calm, steady in her gymnastics, and give a very satisfying performance. The routine that stands out to me is her beam routine from the Universiade. Basically because it’s never been her good event. But she really demonstrated I thought how far she had come in the past few years and just taking her time and focusing. And doing lovely, very watchable, very pretty gymnastics. So Nabieva, you will be sorely missed. If ever you feel like you want to go to Azerbaijan and compete-




BLYTHE: they would welcome you with open arms.


JESSICA: Yes. Azerbaijan if you’re listening.


BLYTHE: We can like build a dream team for Azerbaijan. Maybe we should be hired as like consultants.


JESSICA: I totally think we should. I mean obviously we’re geniuses, so.


BLYTHE: Listen here Azerbaijan Olympic Committee. Want a good gymnastics team? We can help you out with that.


JESSICA: I’m going to miss that Nabieva, you never had to wonder what she was thinking. Like Khorkina. You knew. You could see it on her face. She didn’t have, Nastia has a competition face. You will not know, she has the same expression the entire competition. Nabieva, you never had to guess. It was very expressive. She was very enjoyable to watch from the sidelines or during her routines. So I’m going to miss that about her. And she made it really exciting to see women’s bars again doing something so innovative. So wish her the best.


BLYTHE: Definitely


JESSICA: So in the cool new skills department, we have a couple of exciting things. One, we missed oh my god. So thank you to one of our listeners for pointing this out to us on Facebook. Rowena Needham from Bristol Hawks competed at the Junior National Championships in Glasgow. There at the espoir apparatus finals, she competed this on bars. So exciting. And she’s like two feet tall by the way. She’s tiny little thing. She did the zuchold with a half turn. So this is the skill that everyone was so excited about because Ruby Harrold has resurrected it from the 1980s and put it in her routine. Now this kid is doing it with a half turn and it looks really cool and really pretty because she actually stretches it out then turns. You’re like wait what happened. She looks like a little cat, she’s like boop turns the other direction. Very excited about that. Then King Kohei has put up a video of him practicing a, are you ready for this, cassina to a kolman to a kovacs. So that is a, wait which one is a cassina again?

UNCLE TIM: Full twisting double layout over the bar.


JESSICA: And then the kolman is a?


UNCLE TIM: Full twisting double tuck over the bar


JESSICA: Ok so cassina is laid out. Kolman is tucked full. And then the kovacs is just the flip.


UNCLE TIM: The double tuck yeah


JESSICA: Yes. Is it a double? I guess it is. Because otherwise you’d just. No it’s a single.


UNCLE TIM: No it’s a double.


JESSICA: Because you just let go with your hands then grab with your hands again.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah but you do a double back over the bar.


JESSICA: You don’t do one flip?


UNCLE TIM: No. Otherwise you would never, yeah you wouldn’t be able to catch.


JESSICA: I think it’s a one flip. Ok we’ll, we’ll have to argue this later. Because if it was half a flip you’d like on your feet on top of the bar. Full flip you land- ok we’ll discuss later. Ok. Anyway. Laid out full, single full, and then the yes. With perfect form. This is the thing. He did it with perfect form. So I don’t know. Blythe what do you think Mr I’m in medical school with the blond hair in the Netherlands was thinking when he saw that?


BLYTHE: Oh man. Well we’ve talked before about Epke. He is a wonderful gymnast. A terrific trickster. So much daring. And has a wonderful ability also to hit better during finals than he does during preliminaries in terms of E score. However, and Epke is completely aware of this, he still needs to clean up a bit. And I think to have Kohei posting this video, hey man you’re not the only guy who’s doing three kovacs style release moves in a row in the world anymore, might be a bit of a wakeup call for him. Of course we don’t know what Kohei is really planning. Maybe he’s just working things in the gym as he does. We’ve seen some awesome stuff from him before. We’ve seen the quad twisting double layout from Kohei. And it’s unlikely, it seems, that he’ll ever compete that. But certainly it’s a bit of a wakeup call. And you know, if Kohei is doing these sorts of things, I bet you that Kohei’s teammates are also working on similar things as well. And so we might really see in the coming year, two years, that this kind of become a trend. Like remember in the early to mid 90s when to do four or five tkachev style release moves was a trend?




BLYTHE: Well this is the new era. And I think this business of doing big kovaces and several in a row is really where it’s at on high bar right now. And the Japanese seem to have to wherewithal and the daring to do that. And I don’t want to point a finger at European gymnasts and say your high bar routines compared to the really daring stuff that has been done at the world level is a bit I don’t know, what’s the word that I want. Stayed? I want to point the finger a little at Great Britain honestly for doing fairly safe conservative high bar routines with a tkachev release move. And then you have someday like Epke or Fabian Hambuchen or who knows maybe Kohei in the future who are just ripping off these wild things. And I think there’s a big difference. I guess that’s all I really want to say. But yeah.


UNCLE TIM: Coach Rick calls those routines crap. They don’t do any big releases.


BLYTHE: Coach Rick is far more succinct than I am.


UNCLE TIM: I’m curious though whether we’ll actually see this in Kohei’s routine. In February we saw a video of him doing kovacs to kolman to kolman. And that never materialized in a routine. So we’ll see. But like you said, there are other Japanese gymnasts working on similar release skills. I’m trying to think of his name. Koji Uematsu is also doing a similar release sequence. So, yeah. It’ll be like you said it might be the new era of high bar.


JESSICA: I just feel like everyone else, we should go back in time and give them a million more deductions for those skills. Because I didn’t even think you could do them the way that Kohei did them. I just didn’t think you could arch your back like that or go so high you don’t have to arch your back to have that form. Like he’s just you know, he’s the king. That is all. So in other news, people that don’t have such good form, Mykayla Skinner has posted a video of herself doing a triple double onto a spring floor. Or she’s not doing it onto the spring floor sorry. She’s doing it on what looks like a spring floor landing it on a resi. But actually she has pretty good form when she’s doing this. It’s very nicely done. So I should not compare this to her other skills at all so I apologize for this. And it’s really exciting to see someone doing a triple double. How about her landing position though. What did you guys think? Uncle Tim.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah. It looks like it could easily be a knee problem. Unless she is one of those rare human beings that Larry Nassar talked about that just have like 25 extra ligaments in their knees. But it looked a little scary on the landing because she’s still twisting as she was landing.


JESSICA: Yeah she definitely has I agree like a ways to go. Because she’s definitely landing with her body, she’s a full quarter turn away from finishing it. So she’s coming in the ground still twisting. But it’s exciting to see she’s working on it. It’s like if she can get more height, you know, which clearly she’s a great tumbler, so it’s something to look forward to. And then, in our dreams our coming true news, Sam Mikulak is working on the air flare. And it’s actually like he’s almost got it. Like he’s pretty much doing it but it’s weird. He kind of doesn’t have enough height yet so he’s reaching around. It’s really archy. But I think he would get credit. What do you guys think he would get credit for doing it? I think he would the way it looks in the video.


BLYTHE: Yeah probably. It’s a little bit, well, probably.


UNCLE TIM: Yeah it’s not quite there yet. It’s not as good as Max Whitlock’s. But it’s coming along. And when he comes down his legs are a little sloppy too. If I remember correctly. But you know he still has a couple weeks I guess before his first meet if he’s going to put it in his floor routine this year.


JESSICA: Yeah and that’s the thing is I feel kind of bad about even criticizing anybody’s training videos. Because on the one hand we’re so excited to see anyone training videos but then we’re like it isn’t ready blah blah blah. So I just want to say thank you guys to Skinner and Mikulak and everybody for putting your videos out there because it’s so exciting to see. We get to see what you’re actually capable of even if it’s not worth the risk of doing it in competition. But I think Sam was saying when they filmed it was the first day he actually even got it. So clearly it’s going to get much much better. I can’t wait to see that. So we talked a little bit earlier about Victoria Moors and her routine seemed to be with the intention of the code behind it because there are no stork stands. But there is some unfortunate news with the, well it depends. Unfortunate news or not with the new floor rules. So these are in the elite code. Uncle Tim can you tell us about this?


UNCLE TIM: Yeah so the stork stands are here to stay. That’s not changing. Then another rule that you must kind of dance into the corner. You can’t just step into the corner and then turn and huff and puff then do your next tumbling pass. You actually have to move your arms a little bit. That’s here to stay. And then new rules, two new rules. You cannot start your routine with an immediate tumbling pass. You actually have to do a little choreography before the first tumbling pass. Then the other rule is you cannot perform two subsequent tumbling passes in the same diagonal. So what a lot of girls will do is do their first tumbling pass, maybe do a little couple arm movements, and then do their second tumbling pass back down the same diagonal that they came from. And so that is no longer allowed according to the new rules the FIG has put out. And what do you guys think? Are these good improvements? You just think they’re just making a bunch of rules that nobody really cares about? What are your thoughts?


JESSICA: I don’t like the rule about how you can’t do two tumbling passes back to back in the very beginning. Because I feel like the thing that sucks is there isn’t enough time to dance. So people do that so they have enough time for a real dance sequence. And that’s strategic. I don’t think people do it because they have shitty- people don’t do it because they have shitty conditioning, they do it because the rules suck you know? So to be like no you can’t do that anymore, you have to fit your two dance moves in between all your 10 tumbling passes is ignoring the real problem. So I am totally upset with that.


BLYTHE: I think we’ll have to wait and see really. I think that the success of these rules is going to be judged by the product that’s put out on the floor literally over the next couple of years. And if they are good rule changes, we will be happy with the floor exercises that we see. And if not, then I suppose you know we’ll still be complaining in a couple of years. I think that 2013, there have been some really gorgeous floors this year. And so you can say that that’s because of these rule changes that were implemented. Or you can say oh that has nothing to do with the rule changes, it’s just good choreographers and such. People making good things in spite of the rules in place. I don’t know. I think for the most part they are good rule changes. The stork stand, I don’t know about that. But the other things yeah. I understand the reasoning for wanting to do two tumbling passes, front loading your routine like that. It maybe it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing thing. Gymnasts can make it work. There’s all sorts of ways to be creative on floor. But yeah I mean for the most part I feel ok with the rule changes. Even the stork stand. Because if nothing else it got that great montage “Get out of that corner” that everybody loved.




BLYTHE: So it was worth it just to be able to see that. But yeah time will tell.


JESSICA: I hope someone just does their first tumbling passes then just jazz runs to the other corner that’s next to them and then does another tumbling pass to get around this rule. Somebody please do that just for me. Jazz run and like with your hands up you know with the jazz fingers, jazz run and then just do dramatic looks from side to side then take off for your other one.


UNCLE TIM: Well I think that you’re thinking that all gymnasts have to do four tumbling passes. But Ellie Black’s routine from this past year only had three tumbling passes and fulfilled all the new requirements. And so I’m thinking that maybe the FIG is hoping that people will start doing three tumbling passes rather than maybe four tumbling passes. I also think that they’re hoping that the gymnasts will try to be more creative with their use of floor space because yeah I mean the routines were fairly predictable. Lots of the girls will start with one tumbling pass then go back down the same diagonal, do their turn sequence or their leap sequence, do another tumbling pass, do a little dance then do their tumbling pass. And it was really predictable. And so I think that’s what they’re trying to get the girls to do. And the way to do that is to take deductions if you don’t follow their rules. So. I don’t know. That’s my take on it.


BLYTHE: I think you’re absolutely right. Personally I would rather see three, and forgive me for sounding like a snob here, three elite tumbling passes rather than two elite tumbling passes and a 1.5 to a front tuck full and a double tuck at the end.



BLYTHE: That’s just me


JESSICA: Amen to that. Why are you doing- if you can’t get your tumbling, all your tumbling in in two or three passes, what else are you going to show us? This is what we’re talking about with Ferrari. If she can do a double double she doesn’t need to do a double back. Obviously she can do a double back, we don’t need to see that. That kind of thing, it’s just the tumbling rules were getting out of control when you’re doing a double back dismount. Like Moors did that in her routine in Tokyo and I’m just like really? Really? I totally agree Blythe. Ugh.


UNCLE TIM: I’m also curious to see if some of the female gymnasts will take a page from the male gymnast floor routines in the sense that they will start doing tumbling passes on the straight away but on the diagonal straight away. Do you know what I mean? When you go basically start in the corner and then tumble into the middle of the floor. Because that would be a way of avoiding that same deduction. So but still doing four tumbling passes. So we’ll see if some of the female gymnasts start trying to do a full twisting double back on the straight away or something.


JESSICA: I would love that oh my god. No need for the jazz run when you can just take one or two steps into a skill. And we totally know there’s gymnasts that can do that. Hello, Biles. She doesn’t even need to run. Why does she even bother running? Besides when she does run her little legs are so tiny she only makes it to the middle of the floor anyway. That’s genius. Oh I hope all you coaches out there listen to this. Get around the rules.


BLYTHE: There’s room for that. Remember for example Kayla Williams’ side tumbling pass triple full in 2009? That was pretty wild.


JESSICA: Yep I love those, yeah side passes. Those are the best. Big fan. I keep wondering why people don’t do that in NCAA. I just feel like it’s such an obvious unusual thing to do. And I was wondering why more people don’t take advantage of that. So. Let’s discuss the most fascinating people of 2013. So we had a lot of nominees. We have narrowed this down and nominees nominated by ourselves. And we have narrowed them down to two each. And then we have some honorable mentions. So Blythe, tell us who your two choices are for most fascinating. And tell us why.


BLYTHE: Well my, this is probably pretty typical, but the people that I picked were Kohei Uchimura and Kyla Ross as most fascinating gymnasts of 2013. You know Kohei for very obvious reasons. The man is a living walking kovacs doing legend. And he just- it’s very rare to see a gymnast who is always at the top of his or her form at every single meet they compete at. You can say a little bit that during the Olympics there were some chinks in Kohei’s armor. He made more mistakes in London than he has in any meet in the four years preceding that since Beijing. But this year he came back, he was newly married, he’s a new father to a young daughter, and he looked completely focused. And completely driven. And just he was the leader of his team and he showed them how it was done in Antwerp. The variety of skills that he throws you know? He has something like five or six different vaults he could do in a meet. Everything was just so beautiful and so perfect. And that should be celebrated at every opportunity. And then for Kyla, she was, she’s just such an intriguing story. You know most of the time when somebody goes to the Olympics and wins a gold medal, it is the pinnacle of their career. But I feel like for Kyla, London was just kind of almost a warmup. She came in this year and she’s two inches taller. And she’s really a completely different gymnast. She’s so much more mature. She is more polished. Her presentation is just excellent. She has this beautiful elegant new floor routine. Elegant look, elegant presence on that. And doesn’t seem to have been fazed like Kohei by being an Olympic gold medalist. And that was just, it’s wonderful to see that after an Olympic Games, the Olympics are certainly going to be the highlight of any gymnasts’ career but they’re not necessarily the pinnacle. And it will be very interesting to watch Kyla as she continues over the next few years and what her place on the US team will be.


JESSICA: I so agree about how this is with what you said about Kyla with this being sort of like a warmup and how much she’s improved. Because I feel like when other people get to this level, there’s no motivation for them to change anything. Even though they’re definitely could be improvements. I’m thinking about Alicia Sacramone. Her gymnastics was basically and her choreography and artistry exactly the same her entire career. Where there’s definitely places, she’s so incredible, definitely places she could’ve made improvements. But why? She was winning. Whereas Kyla, she’s winning, but she still went on to make all these improvements and still made an effort to make changes. And that’s so admirable, incredibly admirable. I didn’t really think about it until you said it and I just appreciate that so much more about her now that you pointed that out.


BLYTHE: Although I don’t know if I completely agree about Sacramone. I think that her choreography did improve quite dramatically between 2005 when she won her first floor title and 2011 which was the last floor routine that she did. And showed a real emphasis in that she’d studied modern dance and had much more polished precise movements. And real dance. Real choreography rather than kind of just posing and being in the corner and posing again. And then tumbling. But yeah, no I see what you mean as well. Kyla has had a real metamorphosis. I really feel like in 2012 she was still a caterpillar and today she’s a butterfly.


JESSICA: I love that! So adorable. Ok Uncle Tim, tell us about your, well let me mention one more thing about Sacramone. Actually I totally agree with you. She did make an effort in that last routine. I think the problem was it started if you watched it the first meet of the season and the last meet of the season, first meet it was a totally different and then by the time she got to the end of the season she reverted back to old habits. But she totally did make an effort there. You could definitely see it. Yeah you’re very right. So. Uncle Tim. Tell us about your people.


UNCLE TIM: I’m going to pick Kevin Mazeika and Rhonda Faehn. So Kevin is the national team coordinator for the men in the United States. And honestly after US Nationals I was very concerned about the US men. I didn’t think they looked ready for Worlds at all. So I thought it was possible the US men wouldn’t win a single medal at Worlds. But somehow between Nationals and Worlds, Kevin whipped these guys into shape. And the US men won four medals at Worlds which I don’t really think anyone expected. So props to you Kevin Mazeika, that’s why you’re one of my most fascinating people of 2013. And then my other choice, Rhonda Faehn. Where to start. So at the top NCAA programs, the head coaches are pretty much playing chess while everyone else around them is playing checkers. And those coaches who have won National titles are like Bobby Fischer chess masters basically. They have so much strategy. They know how to motivate, they know how to do PR, they know how to brand their program, they know how to attract recruits. They however don’t always know that much about technique. They leave that up to their assistant coaches. Rhonda Faehn however I think is kind of the perfect blend of craftyness and gymnastics knowledge. I mean you don’t win the NCAA Championship without being cunning on the women’s side. But the thing about Rhonda is she also knows her technique. She knows her skills. I chatted with her before NCAAs this past year, and she can really gym nerd out and I love her for that. And at the same time I’m a little jealous of her too because her husband is so hot. So Rhonda Faehn, you are one of my most fascinating people of 2013.


JESSICA: Is Rhonda Faehn the only head coach who’s actually been a high level gymnast beyond recreational gymnast of the top five? Because Marsden wasn’t, he tried diving. Yoculan wasn’t a gymnast.


UNCLE TIM: Wasn’t. Greg Marsden wasn’t. Miss Val wasn’t. Sarah Patterson wasn’t. So yeah, I’d say she was.


JESSICA: That’s kind of a big, yeah. And I think it’s interesting too about her what fascinates me is she is one of the, she was a Karolyi gymnast. She made it through, she was on the team where there was bribery going on at that Worlds. She made it through the darkest years of gymnastics and has come out to be a collegiate coach you know in this totally different world and has been so successful at it. So it was so hard for me to narrow these down, but my most fascinating people are actually three. So number one is a couple. A pair. It’s a couple. Well not a couple, that’s not the right way to put it. I don’t want to imply anything with that. That was just, I mean the joining of- that was a bad way to put it. I mean nothing by that. That’s just the first thing that came out of my mouth. I’ve been traveling a lot. I have a little bit of a cold. Forgive me. Ok. So. Chuso and Bogi together. This past year where they have Bogi has been traveling with Chusovitina and coaching her. And they have been posting all these pictures of them on the road having a blast. And just Chusovitina continuing after the Olympics and continue to be successful and traveling around to compete at all these different countries as their special guest on the Japanese team. And just how much fun they’re having And to see Boginskaya be so excited for her friend. And just to see where they have come from, the dark days of the Soviet system and what they must have endured. And Chuso and her history. And to come to this beautiful happy amazing successful ending where they are both together again in this new world still in gymnastics is just heartwarming and beautiful. And I base my choices on who I want to see a documentary on, this is my fascinating accomplishments don’t really matter. Just who would I want to watch in their daily lives and what goes on and hear them talk for hours about their lives. So Bogi and as when Emma was on the show she was saying they should totally have a show about them that follows them and I completely agree. I just think they are amazing and beautiful story and they would be hilarious. My second person is Aimee Boorman, head coach at Bannon’s Gymnastix, coach of Simone Biles. She is the first female head coach to ever coach a US world champion. And the reason I pick her is two-fold. One, because I can’t believe we are at 2013 and we haven’t had a female head coach coach a world champion. How has that happened? How in this world, in the United States has that happened? I look at the British gymnastics team and how their country is completely different. The women coach the women. The women spot the women. There’s none of this men spotting the girls and men being head coaches over women. I see her as a role model for other coaches. And I hope that other women who aspire to be coaches see that they can do everything necessary to create a champion. And I don’t want to take anything away from the other coach of Simone, Luis. We had him on the show and obviously he’s done an amazing job as well. But to be the head coach is obviously different. I think that she’s set a new standard and I think it’s fantastic and I hope that little girls watching now will see her with Simone Biles and her on the sideline and say that could be me. I could be that person coaching someone. I don’t need a man to help me. I don’t need a man to do the spotting. I know what to do and I can be in charge. I think she’s a great role model. So that’s why I chose her.

UNCLE TIM: I also like her because I think she’s probably a fun coach and understands how important it is to have fun no matter what level you’re at. In the Gymnastike documentary about Simone and her experiences in the gym, there’s a video of Aimee teaching her girls how to play poker and I’m guessing it was in conjunction with some strength activity or something. But I was just like I wish I had that kind of learning when I was doing gymnastics, you know, learn a life skill like poker and also get to do strength and have fun at the same time. So yeah I agree.

JESSICA: So there were a couple of people that we couldn’t decide. They didn’t make our most fascinating list but they were really important this year and very interesting and we kept talking about them on the show and they kept being mentioned on the gymternet. They are our honorable mention people. So Blythe who’s your honorable mention?

BLYTHE: Somebody who’s been in the news in the past month has been Anna Pavlova who has signed up to go and compete with Azerbaijan. And this has gotten gymnastics fans hugely hugely excited because there’s now the prospect again after all of these years of seeing Pavlova again at the World Championships and to qualify for what would be her third Olympic Games. And there are people who are just in raptures about this and rightly so. And when you talk, Jess, about the people you want to see a documentary done on, I think Anna Pavlova would make a lot of people’s list. She’s certainly, I think, on all of ours. So yeah Anna Pavlova definitely makes mine for honorable mention of people of the year.

JESSICA: Like how has she made a living all these years? And where has she been training and what has it been like for her because she was on the team and off the team and still training. There’s so many blanks I need filled in on her story you know? And now that she’s competing for Azerbaijan, she’s another one that I feel like, like Ferrari, could be another Chusovitina. I really think she could. And people are going to want to watch her even if she’s not successful. She’s like Vasiliki Millousi from Greece. Even if she never wins anything, you could watch her all day. She’s so beautiful. She’s the essence of artistic gymnastics. Uncle Tim, how about for you?

UNCLE TIM: I’d have to say my honorable mention goes to Victoria Moors, just for the simple fact that she had a new category created in the Code of Points just for her skill, the double double layout. I mean that’s just so impressive. It’s not necessarily unprecedented because if you look back in history, the 1975 Code didn’t even have a double back listed as one of the skills. Like a double turn was the hardest skill listed in the Code. And by 1978, people were doing full twisting double backs on floor. But that said, it’s been a while since we’ve somebody do something so mind-blowingly difficult. So that was really impressive. And there’s something to be said about the fact that she has in a way put women’s gymnastics on par with men’s gymnastics in terms of difficulty. I mean the double double layout is one of the hardest skills being competed on the men’s side and she’s doing that skill as well. So yeah good for her.

JESSICA: So the last person on our honorable mention list was mentioned by Spanny Tampson when we were talking about this. And this one is going to be very controversial but you cannot deny that there is a fascination with this person. So Mykayla Skinner is the final honorable mention and it is because she is a lightning rod both for controversy and just for performance greatness. So everyone that was at Nationals, P&G Championships just said her performance on floor was incredible. It was transcendent. It was the most amazing moment of those national championships. And whether you can’t stand her form, which obviously I can’t because I bring it up every time. It makes me nuts. Or you know, you think she’s definitely going to get hurt because she does a vault with one arm, which is going to lead to problems or you think that it doesn’t matter because she’s doing something that is so fun and draws people to the sport. You know, she’s also politically controversial because of her very conservative views in a sport that is so liberal, there’s definitely an interest in her whether it’s good or bad. It can’t be denied that she really stood out this year in a lot of ways. So yes, we’ll see what happens from this honorable mention but she’s definitely someone people have been talking about and made an impact this year.

UNCLE TIM: Before we end our year end wrap up, there’s one question I wanted to ask you guys. And I want to know, what routines from 2013 you think people will be talking about let’s say in 20 years? People are still talking about, I’m trying to think of a good example in the past, Svetlana Boginskaya’s guitar routine. It’s this kind of iconic routine that people still discuss to this day. What do you think will be the routines from 2013 that people are still talking about if there are any?  What about you Blythe?

BLYTHE: Well for me, and this is maybe reaching a little bit because it’s a training routine but the routine that I’m going to remember is Enus Mariani, our junior European all-around champion from Italy training a new floor routine sometime around March around Jesolo. I think it was a dance through but it was phenomenally beautiful. I mean it got people talking about the grace and the polish and the artistry and the choreography. And I don’t think we’ve even seen her compete it unless I’m wrong about that, yet. But it was absolutely stunning. To pick something that we have seen people compete, you’ve already talked quite a bit about Victoria Moors, that routine and the double twisting double layout, her being the first woman to do that and to break the Code as one YouTube commenter said. If you look at that routine, there’s a comment that said “way to go Victoria. You broke the fucking code.” That routine is amazing as well. And so for the artistry and the difficulty, those two routines I think will be the ones that we really remember.

UNCLE TIM: I’m going to go with Kenzo’s floor routine. I feel like that one will be one that people are discussing for years to come just because of the level of difficulty. I don’t know that anyone will be able to match some of his difficulty in the next even ten years. A back 2.5 to a punch Randi, it’s just crazy what he’s able to do. I think that’s one routine that people will be talking about for quite some time. Jess do you have any routines?

JESSICA: I’m going to have to go with the NCAA and beam finals and Danusia Francis. I can’t remember the last time in NCAA that anyone was so excited about a single skill. When she did her transverse aerial which is now named after and will be very interesting to see what happens if they both make beam finals this year, it’s now named after Florida gymnast who competed it, and I’m totally blanking on her name. She has two last names.

BLYTHE: Silvia Colussi-Pelaez.

JESSICA: Thank you Blythe!

BLYTHE: You’re welcome.

JESSICA: Spain. She has to remind me every time. I will memorize this before the end, I will. I’m going to put a sticker on my computer so I don’t forget her name.

BLYTHE: But it’s complicated because she trains in Canada. And she was on the junior national team in Canada. And then she went to represent Spain.

JESSICA: And wasn’t she like born in Romania too? Or was that the other one on the team?

BLYTHE: Roxana Popa was Romanian born. You know, I’m not even sure if she was Romanian born or she just is Romanian and her parents went to live in Spain. But yeah.

JESSICA: So she, so yeah. Now it’s named after someone else. I mean many people compete that skill. Just the level of excitement around that skill and in general, the artistry and the difficulty that were in that routine, I think it had everything that made people, except a rolling skill, oh no she does! She has that shoulder thing. Ah it has everything! That’s a routine that totally stands out to me and I cannot wait to see what happens in beam finals this year. But Nush, that beam routine is going to be one. And also Hanna Nordquist. That’s the routine that gave Kathy Johnson the audible orgasm wasn’t it? Minnesota, yes I believe it was. Those two are the ones that stand out because elite eh. There’s skills that I’m excited about but no one’s routine is making me fall over but NCAA….

[Sound byte]

JESSICA: It’s time for gymternet news. First I want to know have you guys signed up for fantasy gymnastics yet? Uncle Tim?

UNCLE TIM: Yes I have! But I will not be playing unless Emily Wong is on my team. I have decided that.

JESSICA: Everyone wants Emily Wong on their team. Well it depends on what conference you get in. You might. We’ll see. What was your strategy? Did you do all arounders? Tell me your strategy. I’m interested in this.

UNCLE TIM: So I did a lot of all arounders first but I didn’t necessarily go with Bridget Sloan because I knew everyone was going to put down Bridget Sloan. I did choose some more esoteric all arounders. And then I also did some of the individual events people. It was just kind of a mixture of people. I really didn’t put too much thought in it other than going back and looking at how people did last year during the season.

JESSICA: I went from last year, the rankings before nationals, going into nationals. I put the all arounders and then I put the individual event finalists after that and then I picked basically freshmen who were from gyms that I knew. Like I kind of watched their routines and then went through what freshmen have incredible form is basically what I did. They have the skills. They are level 10s. But who has beautiful untouchable form, that’s kind of who I went after. And then I put some of my favorites just because you know, I have to have them on my team like Jamie Armijo from Southern Utah, the one that does the most amazing, like insane beam routine, just because like no one else is going to pick her and I have to have her even if she only gets 9.85s all season, I don’t care. 9.85s equal finals just like Ds equal degrees. So I’m okay with that. That was not a good analogy to make. Her routine’s not like a D. So in the gymternet news this week, there is some drama. Okay first of all, the ex girlfriend of Xiao Qin who is the pommel horse gold medalist in Beijing, she has been jailed for life, China prison for life, for $12 million in fraud. That’s got to sting. Now was it against him? Did it have something to do with him? Or it just happens to be his ex girlfriend? Do we know?

BLYTHE: It happens to be his ex-girlfriend. In the news reports that I read, she kind of used the fact that she was his girlfriend ,he was you know an Olympic gold medalist and a person of prestige and influence to gain access to some of the people that she defrauded. And it appears that, according to this news article, among the people she defrauded was 2008 Olympic all around champion Yang Wei and Yang Wei’s wife Yang Yun who is a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist and really one of the elegant and artistic gymnasts of the past 20 years. So they were on the list of victims of this sort of business that she was involved in. I do not know if Xiao Qin himself lost money or whatever. Certainly he’s lost a lot of face because of being involved with this.

JESSICA: That sucks! That’s awful. Man ,jailed for life for fraud in China. I can’t imagine something worse. Alright, oh no I can imagine something worse. I can imagine someone being paralyzed because of bars falling down which I can’t believe hasn’t happened yet. And I’m sure it is going to happen unless someone does something about this immediately. So Ellie Black posted a video of one of her teammates at her gym doing a Jaeger and then the bars fall down. Thank God she’s okay. But honestly when is this going to stop? How many times have we seen the bars falling down? There needs to be a mandate that any gym that is USAG sanctioned or a USAG member or an FIG gym, there just needs to be something from the associations that states that you have to have a secondary what is it called, a redundant cable so that if the first level of cables fail for some reason that there’s a second back up cable to hold the bars up. This really happens way too often and it’s totally unacceptable. And I know they laugh in the video but when you’ve gotten to our age and you’ve seen this happen basically two or three times a year all over the world, it’s just not okay. It makes me so angry you guys. I can’t even. It’s like someone doing a vault and then someone pulling the mats away. Like would everybody be okay with that? That’s basically the same thing. There are manufacturers that make secondary cables so take a look, find them. If you’re a gym owner, make sure you have these. Because this is going to happen to you one of these days. It will happen. Alright, rant over. Did I miss anything in my rant?

UNCLE TIM: No I mean it’s just something that’s happened for a long time. I mean the earliest one I can remember and I wasn’t alive for this but I’ve watched the YouTube video so many times. Ludmila Tourischeva at the 1975 World Cup, the uneven bars came down on her while she was doing her dismount I want to say. So yeah I feel like, you would think that we would have figured out a system by now, over 30 years later where this is no longer happening.

JESSICA: In irony in the gymternet news, Aliya Mustafina did a question and answer session on VK, which is kind of like their Twitter/Instagram

UNCLE TIM: Facebook

JESSICA: Facebook? Okay sorry I was totally wrong. It’s like Facebook of Russia. And she said, so fans submitted questions and then she answered them and a couple of sites translated this and I looked at the translation up on World of Gymnastike. Someone asked her about the increasing difficulty vs. the deterioration of execution. Is this a problem? What do you think of this? You know, is form getting worse? And she responded increased difficulty doesn’t mean execution deterioration which I found a little ironic. But I’m glad to hear that she was, she feels this way despite the helicopter legs. Yeah so there’s that. The other really interesting thing in part one of this is that she didn’t start wearing grips until 2009. Is that like kind of shocking?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah I guess because 2010 was her big senior debut so she only learned how to use grips one year before she had her big senior debut.

JESSICA: Yeah and doing those kinds of skills with no, and you know she had to be at an elite level already in 2009 so I found that really surprising. I mean, not that it can’t be done but why would you do it? So I have it on good authority that Miss Gabby Douglas, our current Olympic champion has been back at Gym Jam and training consistently since around Thanksgiving. So she was also on a morning show recently promoting something and talked about how she’s been back in the gym so it’s kind of exciting. She said she’s been working out about four hours a day in the afternoons and I’m glad to see that she’s back. So it’ll be interesting to see. I wonder if she has like a show coming up or she’s actually thinking about competing again. We’ll have to see what’s in store. In terrifying news, Lexie Priessman tweeted about being in the hospital with a blood infection and Amelia Hundley also being in the hospital because she had ankle surgery and had a cadaver ligament put in for her ligament. This is the kind of thing that we were talking about before with Peng Peng and Dr. Larry Nassar about using your own body part for ligament replacement vs. using one from a cadaver. And it was pretty funny because Lexie was talking about how Amelia really wanted to meet the person who gave her the ligament and thank them. And Lexie was like they’re dead! I thought that was hilarious. But a blood infection is really really scary. That’s very very serious serious serious to have a blood infection so. You know, she said everything is fine and she’s being treated so we wish them both the best. Simone Biles revealed who her new choreographer is. Are you ready?

[Dramatic music plays]

UNCLE TIM: Who is it?

JESSICA: Dominic Zito


JESSICA: I think it’s a good choice. I mean it’s not my dream choice but it’s a good choice. He has a proven record and he’s bringing something good to gymnastics choreography.

BLYTHE: And just for the record Jess, who’s your dream choice?

JESSICA: My dream choice is Sonya Tayeh from So You Think You Can Dance fame.

BLYTHE: Ohhhhh

JESSICA: Yes that would be my number one. She has the fierce superhero choreography that would be amazing if Simone did it. But if Simone is happy with her choreographer, it’s going to be amazing anyway because if she’s happy and having fun, it radiates so I’m very pleased about that. So what’s happening in South Korea with men’s gymnastics Uncle Tim?

UNCLE TIM: Well they’re going through a similar process to Temple. Hanyang University is going to drop gymnastics and their reasoning is not because it gets less media attention. That’s not the reason. But it’s because it’s an individual sport rather than a team sport. That’s kind of their reasoning for it. Yeah, which is a very different mindset, I would say, than the States where it’s really about media attention and money and Title IX is kind of the scapegoat and gets blamed a lot even though I doubt that Title IX is always such a big factor.  But yeah. So that’s what’s going on in South Korea. And our vault champion, our World and Olympic vault champion, Yang Hak Seon, he is outraged about it. So we’ll see what happens with that.

JESSICA: So I happen to notice on Instagram when I was traveling over the holidays that Sam Peszek and Eric Stonestreet met each other on the plane back from Indiana. And you know, Eric Stonestreet, he plays Cam on Modern Family. He’s the stay at home dad and the husband of Mitchell. He’s also the football coach of Manny’s team. I just love him! They selfied and they vined and they were hilarious and I just love him a thousand times more now that I know that he’s a fan of gymnastics. So everyone should follow him on Twitter and watch Modern Family if you don’t already because it’s hilarious and I love it.

UNCLE TIM: And Jess, we’ve had a lot of feedback about our last show. We interviewed Judge Dean Ratliff and we talked to Fred Turoff from Temple and we talked to Jill Hicks about recruiting and so what can you tell us about the feedback to the show?

JESSICA: Well first I want to start with a correction because I think this was a little bit confusing sometimes because we talked about the JO rules vs. the elite rules vs. the NCAA rules. And I asked them if there was affiliation rules. Basically if you had been a collegiate gymnast, could you go back immediately when you became a judge and judge there and there actually is an affiliation rule for NCAA. So you have to wait 5 years before you can judge your alma mater. I just want to make that correction clear. Second, we had some feedback about our discussion about the puppy mill meets as we affectionately called them. The meets where the judges judge from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm and we both discussed how we can’t stand that and we think it’s not a great way for kids to experience a gymnastics meet and really difficult on the judges. So one of our listeners on Facebook said, “Two or three full days of competition is really tough on the judges. Generally, you have to stay on the same event all weekend to keep the panels consistent. Imagine judging 700+ girls on a compulsory vault. That’s 1500 front handspring vaults. However, judging those kinds of meets are how I paid for my sorority dues, yearly trips to the beach with my friends, and a two week trip to Europe during the London Olympics. Working those meets sucks but they pay remarkably well for a college student. So there’s another perspective on the benefit for judges on doing that kind of meet.” Another comment on our website was left about how I called cheerleaders slutty. Slutty, I used that totally as a joke. I don’t actually think that being promiscuous is a bad thing or that being slutty is bad. I always mean that as a total joke. And when I say slutty, I mean that someone is using their sexuality inappropriately to get attention. So it actually has nothing to do with actual sex and how much of it you have. I totally don’t care. What I’m talking about is….I also want to make this clear. I don’t think that revealing your body and wearing a leotard means you’re slutty or using your sexuality inappropriately. I don’t think that ice skaters or beach volleyball players are like filming group porn after their matches or their ice skating meets. That’s not what I mean at all. I just want to make it really clear. I don’t think that what you wear is equal to that. That’s just totally a joke on my part. That’s just how I use that phrase to talk about inappropriate, trying to get attention through sex instead of trying to get attention through your actual talents or skills. So to describe how I feel about cheerleading, let me just put it this way. I’m not talking about competitive cheerleading where people, they don’t actually lead cheers at a football game. They are just people who do the sport for competition. That’s totally different. What I’m talking about for example, high school cheerleading where your whole purpose of being on this cheerleading squad is to promote boys’ sports and some girls’ sports. Let me just put this in perspective, how I feel about this. So I have a friend from work from South Korea and she was like oh my daughter’s thinking about doing cheerleading. I was like oh how do you feel about cheerleading? She was like I don’t know. I don’t really know anything about it. We don’t really have that and I wasn’t really exposed to it in South Korea. And I was like well let me just give you my perspective. I was like here’s how the cheerleading was in my high school. The cheerleaders had to wear miniskirts, their outfit is a miniskirt, every single Friday to school. They then decorated the boys’ lockers. So the whole football team, they decorated all their lockers in their miniskirts. Then they would deliver food to the boys in the middle of class in their miniskirts. And this was all during the winter of course because it’s a fall and winter sport, football. So I was just like you know, I think that sends a completely inappropriate message to girls. I think that we’re beyond the time when, boy/male cheerleaders didn’t do any of that stuff. They didn’t wear their outfits to school. They didn’t have to wear miniskirts. They didn’t have to wear super tight anything. And they didn’t do any of the decorating or the food delivery or any of the support, like being a mom basically in a miniskirt to these boys. So I just think it sends totally the wrong message and I’m completely against it for those reasons. However, being in debt is a horrible thing and going in the school in the United States is incredibly ridiculously expensive so if you have to become a sexual object in order to not be in debt until you’re 50 years old, then go for it and get that cheerleading scholarship.


UNCLE TIM: So to kind of push back a little bit, how come you’re okay with the objectification and to a certain extent the sexuality inherent in gymnastics? For instance, you are very much a proponent of men competing shirtless and in short shorts. And you’re also a fan of UCLA gymnastics which have had somewhat sexual floor routines. I mean last year we didn’t even get to see Sam Peszek’s floor routine which featured moaning in the background. So how do you rationalize that and how come you’re okay with that but you’re not okay with cheerleading?

JESSICA: Well for one thing, I think that historically men have not been objectified. Men being sexualized has not resulted in their oppression for thousands of years. So there’s no historical basis for that. It’s totally not equivalent to women in any way, shape or form. And secondly, there is a limit to sexuality in gymnastics. I’m okay if it’s a woman expressing herself, ownership of her sexuality in college in an artistic way. I’m totally fine with that. I did not like the moaning in the floor routine by the way in Sam Peszek’s routine. I thought that was over the top. But it’s artistic. It’s part of the sport and if that’s how they want to express themselves. I might not like it but I’m okay with it. But it’s not sexuality in order to support men. It’s their sexuality. They own it. They do it. If they don’t want to do it, they won’t. It’s not in support of men, for men, being objects for men. So that’s where I see it as totally different.

UNCLE TIM: So two quick questions, two quick follow up questions. I don’t want to beat a dead horse but do you think that part of it has to do with age in the sense that cheerleaders are still minors? And then what do you think of for instance, competitive cheerleading squads, the ones that go to nationals and aren’t necessarily high school spirit squads. They’re the ones who are training hardcore and stuff and they’re not there just there to cheer on the male sports? And female sports but you know

JESSICA: I love competitive cheerleading. I think it’s awesome. I’m all for that. I think it’s really cool. I think it’s totally different. It’s not a spirit squad. And yes, age, age, age is a huge gigantic mega factor in this. College cheerleading I think is only slightly better. In another way, it’s way worse because then it’s televised for the whole world to gawk at their skirts. But yeah.

UNCLE TIM: And people don’t gawk at gymnasts at all, leotards.

JESSICA: No they totally do but it’s fine with me if we went to wearing shorts. I’d be okay with that. And yes they do gawk at them but again, the gymnasts are doing it for them personally. They’re not doing it for the benefit of men. Even though that might be what ends up disgustingly happening in the end when it gets put on the internet but it’s not its original purpose. And that’s how I see the world in a nutshell.

UNCLE TIM: Alright let’s move on.

JESSICA: So we had some listener comments and questions we wanted to get to. One of our Facebook followers asked what the best camcorder for gymnastics meets is and so of course, we asked Scott Bregman. He first of course mentioned how he thought everyone should just relax and watch the meets. But yes we know we can do that now that you’re in charge. But for people at their regular level 5 meets or whatever, he said that USA Gymnastics uses Panasonic HCV500M. So again that’s Panasonic HCV500M. So if you want to get one of those, you can look on YouTube and see what kind of quality that gives you. Whatever you get, it just needs to be a really high frame rate because that’s what happens if you have low quality, when someone does gymnastics or any sport, they get blurry when they’re actually doing a flip or whatever so you want that really high frame rate to get the good quality. So another question, I thought this was very interesting. One of our Facebook followers asked if USA Gymnastics should hold an annual gala like USA Swimming does. It’s called the Golden Goggles. And basically, swimming does this as a fundraising event. It always seems to sell out. It was in New York last year, LA this year. It’s a red carpet event for all the swimmers and they often bring back retired stars. They give out year-end awards for things like best race, best relay etc. And of course it could be tailored to gymnastics. So Uncle Tim, what do you think about this idea?

UNCLE TIM: I think it would be great. I do feel like people in the United States might be a little hesitant to do it just because there is the International Gymnastics Hall of Fame gala dinner whatever it is exactly. So yeah I think that people might be hesitant to do that. But you know, whatever. I like going to fancy award shows. I like wearing a fancy tux and stuff. So I’d be all for it if I would ever be invited. But yeah it’d be fun.

JESSICA: And you do look fantastic in a tux by the way.

UNCLE TIM: Well thank you!

JESSICA: So people should invite Uncle Tim to events that he has to wear a tux to if you want to see him in it. He looks excellent. I think this is a great idea. I mean first of all, they use it as a fundraiser and hello, we need an endowment for men’s gymnastics or men’s gymnastics is going to die. So I think if they did something like this, and they use it as a fundraising event to start the endowment for men’s collegiate gymnastics, it would be a great way to do it. They do sort of have an award thing at nationals but I think something like this where it’s a red carpet event is a great idea. And having celebrities there is another thing. I mean who wouldn’t want to come and hang out with gymnasts? Obviously everyone would. Duh! Having it in New York and LA will also raise the profile. I think it would be really cool to have something like this. So I’m all for it. I think it should happen. And especially as a fundraiser, you can sell tickets to it. Everyone gets to schmooze. Yeah I like it. I want to remind you guys that we are going to have our end of the year survey up on the site for the next couple of weeks and so this is to help us give you more of what you want on the show, to find out what you like, what you dislike. And then also, it’s also to help us pay the bills. So we get a little bit of demographic information from you to help our sponsors better know what you guys want or what you’re interested in. So and of course, doing the show is not free so we need our sponsors and help us by giving us a little info about you would be fabulous.

[Sound Byte]

ALLISON TAYLOR: This episode is brought to you by Elite Sportz Band. We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: Visit, that’s sports with a z and save $5 on your next purchase with the code Gymcast.

Again, if you want to support the show, you can leave us a voicemail, call us, Gymcastic Podcast on Skype, or 415-800-3191. You can email us at I want to thank everyone who voted for us in the Stitcher podcast awards. Thank you so much. We’re so honored to be nominated and the results are going to be out on the 1st so by the time this airs, the results will probably be out. So cross your fingers for us. You can shop in our Amazon store. And oh my gosh, mega thank you to everyone who purchased in our Amazon store when they were doing their Christmas shopping. We get a little bit of a portion of what you buy through that and we’re going to use all the revenue that we got during the Christmas season to upgrade our recording equipment and bring you even more fabulous coverage, going to some meets and stuff like that. So thank you everyone who remembered to go to that Amazon link and start your shopping there. And of course you want to skip the hassle of shopping and just support the show directly, you can do that by just using the donate button. Just throw some money at us. So we’ll appreciate it. You can download the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including Android. You can subscribe to the show and get the show delivered directly to your email. We post all the routines we can on our YouTube channel and also on the site so you can follow along while you listen. We have transcripts of the show. Thank you to our wonderful transcription team. Those are usually up two or three weeks after the show airs. And remember, you can recommend us, share us on Facebook and Google Plus. You can rate us or write a review on iTunes. Thank you to everyone who’s written a review on iTunes. They make us so happy when we get those. And of course we’re also on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Until next week, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence for The Gymnastics Examiner

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: See ya next week!



[expand title=”Episode 69: 2009 World Champion Kayla Williams & Alabama’s Sarah Patterson”]

KAYLA: The triple didn’t start as a side pass but at our gym we had kind of like an older floor and we had so many holes in the floor that when I would tumble for my triple, I would hit the hole and it would send me spinning crooked or over rotating or something like that. So my coach was like just take a step, avoid the hole. And so finally, I took out a couple of steps and I was finishing my triple in the middle of the floor so we just choreographed it and took it sideways.

[Express Yourself intro music plays]

JESSICA: This week, Kayla Williams from Alabama and her coach Sarah Patterson

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 We’ve got your back.

JESSICA: This is Episode 69 for Wednesday, January 8, 2014. I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from The Gymnastics Examiner

JESSICA: This is the number one gymnastics podcast in the world, bringing you all the most fascinating people from around the gymternet. Today we’re bringing you an all interview show. And before we get to that, I want to give you guys a couple of quick reminders and that is that we have our listener survey up so make sure to stop by the website and give us your opinions so we can make the show better for you. We ask you about all kinds of things but it’s a really quick survey. It’ll take you three minutes, unless you write an essay like some people have and we are totally open for that. So give us all your suggestions and ideas. Also NCAA season starts in earnest this weekend. Last weekend, there were a couple of meets but everyone’s competing by the end of this coming weekend. So if there is a routine or if something happens that you want us to discuss, make sure you contact us by emailing us at, or find us on Twitter or Facebook and leave a message. You can always call and leave a voicemail, 415-800-3191 or call us for free by using Skype and just look for the username Gymcastic Podcast. And until then, remember to recommend us to all your friends. You can support the show with the Amazon link, the site, you can subscribe, write a review on iTunes and thank you all so much for listening and we will see you next week to discuss everything that happened over the weekend at NCAA meets.

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: Our interview with Kayla Williams and Sarah Patterson is sponsored by TumblTrak. In her interview, Sarah Patterson talks about preventing injuries in college gymnastics, since you know they have like thirteen meets per season. When she talked about landings, it really reminded me of the air floor which I totally love for TumblTrak. It’s like a short or long because it comes in a lot of different sizes, but it’s like a really skinny tumbling strip filled with air. It’s like a blow up mattress except super super thin. So air floors are bouncier than a rod floor and you can even turn them sideways and use them instead of a vaulting board. You can also buy them with Velcro to connect several of them together to make a full tumbling strip and just put them right on top of a regular rod floor or the regular gymnastics floor. The great thing about these is that you can use them for landings too, not just for take-off or for tumbling on top of them. Instead of taking a hard stuck landing, you can use these to land on and just practice natural rebound out of a skill. Check them out at That’s TumblTrak, more reps less stress.

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: Kayla Williams became the first ever US gymnast to win the world title on vault which she accomplished in 2009 at London’s 02 Arena. Her elite career highlights also include the national title on vault and a very successful level 10 career. She is now a junior at the University of Alabama where she’s been a super consistent contributor and helped them win a national title in 2012.

[Sound Byte]

BLYTHE: So Kayla you have just an incredible gymnastics story. Going from level 10 national champion to world vault champion in the space of like nine months. What we were hoping you could do is just to tell us about that season, about being called up to elite in 2009 and then the process that brought you that world championship several months later.

KAYLA: Yeah I mean the whole thing was kind of a whirlwind. To be honest, I think the best part about it was I didn’t really know what was going on. I kind of just did what was asked of me and then just went out and had fun with it. It all worked out for the best. I started off any regular level 10 season, wanted to go on to JO Nationals and have a great finish there. I wasn’t considering really anything much further than that, elite wise. But I had a great JO Nationals. I was invited to like a developmental camp, I want to say, afterwards and I went there and showed that I was training two different vaults and they were really impressed by my tumbling. I worked a lot with their choreographer and they kind of changed up my floor routine to make it more ready for elite and not so JO. From there, I went on to Classics and Championships and then it kind of all played out there for all of the nation to see. It was all big meets and what not. Then world selection camp went really well for me. I did great on my two vaults. I think we stayed in Texas for two weeks after that and then went to London for like a week and a half for Worlds. To be honest, I don’t remember much of it. All I remember is going out and competing, having a great time with the other girls that I was there with. Yeah it was a crazy few months for me. BLYTHE: You talk about just doing what was expected of you. And what exactly was expected of you at those national team training camps and during that selection process for that world team?

KAYLA: Well one thing that coaches kept telling me was just do what you’ve been doing in practice. In practice, I was training ten of each of my vaults. I was doing like three floor routines a day. It was all ingrained in my body and my mind. I knew my gymnastics. I knew my routines. So really that’s what he meant by just go out there and do what we ask of you. We’re going to guide you and tell you what Martha and the national staff wants to see. He’s like you just do what you know how to do.

BLYTHE: Fair enough! And we were all watching your floor routine from 2009 just a couple of days ago and were blown away by the triple full side pass on floor. I don’t think any of us had ever seen that before. I’ve got to ask. Did you ever try to do any of your other tumbling passes as a side pass, you know just in the gym. I’m thinking like a full-in side pass here. That would be…Could you do that?

KAYLA: No that would be crazy. That was never really my goal. My triple didn’t start as a side pass but at our gym we had kind of like an older floor and we had so many holes in the floor that when I would tumble for my triple, I would hit the hole and it would send me spinning crooked or over rotating or something like that. So my coach was like just take a step, avoid the hole. And so finally, I took out a couple of steps and I was finishing my triple in the middle of the floor so we just choreographed it and took it sideways. It wasn’t my original intent but it just ended up that way.

BLYTHE: Crazy! And we always wonder if elite gymnasts are looking at YouTube videos the way that us, the super fans, that really follow the sport are, and are watching the gymnasts from China, from Romania and seeing what comparatively and taking notes in their head. Did you do that at all before London?

KAYLA: Well I didn’t watch my competitors specifically. I wasn’t scouting out who was doing what and what my chances were. Going into Worlds, I didn’t even know if I stood a chance. I just know Martha wanted me there and my coaches believed in me. I didn’t know what I was going for. I didn’t intend to go for a medal. I was just going to you know, do my best and it worked out in my favor. But I’m always watching other gymnasts. I love going on YouTube and seeing what’s out there and all those crazy skills. I have a teammate, Kaitlyn Clark, we do that together all the time.

BLYTHE: Cool! And as of the things that you’ve been watching a little bit recently, maybe you watched the stuff from the Antwerp Worlds for example. What’s been impressing you?

KAYLA: I’m just really impressed with the amount of difficulty and how quickly it came up. I feel like in 2009 when I was there, you really didn’t see 2.5s on vault. You know, you might see one here or there. It’s just the difficulty has risen so quick. It went from what I did at worlds in 2009 to now, you almost have to do a 2.5 on vault or a double double on floor. You almost have to do those skills to hang with the people that are doing it.

BLYTHE: Absolutely. And were those skills that you trained at all? Because you certainly looked capable of both an Amanar and a double double on floor.

KAYLA: I never trained a double double on floor. But I did train 2.5s on vault, but never a double double on floor. The five passes I did on floor were pretty much where I called it.

BLYTHE: I’m sure you get this question a lot. But when we think about gymnastics and we think about West Virginia, we think about you in sort of the more recent era of gymnastics. And of course you think about Mary Lou Retton. And Jessica, our producer was telling us that she has a friend from West Virginia who competed in the 80s. When she was competing, they would stop her competitions and over the loudspeaker, give the whole meet an update on what Mary Lou was doing. I was just wondering, have you ever met Mary Lou yourself?

KAYLA: I have not but after Worlds, I did get a phone call from her. Just like congratulations and you know I’m so proud of where you came from. Gymnastics in West Virginia isn’t huge. There aren’t tons of clubs. There aren’t tons of high level gymnasts. So to make it as far as I did was a huge accomplishment for the state in general. So after Worlds, I did get a call from her. But I’ve never actually met her in person.

BLYTHE: How did you get into gymnastics yourself?

KAYLA: Actually, my parents put me in it when I was like five. I started doing it to become a better cheerleader. That was my mom’s goal. She wanted me to be a really great cheerleader and all the great cheerleaders know how to tumble. So I started taking gymnastics classes and I got on the bars and the beam and I was just hooked. There was no going back to cheerleading after that.

BLYTHE: No regrets about not being a cheerleader?

KAYLA: None whatsoever.

BLYTHE: These days when somebody wins a world title, there’s sort of the professional question. Hey are you going to go pro? Hey are you going to try and see that out? Did you have those thoughts? I’m sure you were tempted. Did it tempt you?

KAYLA: No. I never intended, I made it very clear from a very young age that I wanted to do college gymnastics. It looked like the most fun thing that you could possibly do. I made it very clear to my parents and my coaches that was the bigger goal than anything for me. Worlds, Olympics, no matter what it came down to, I wanted to compete in college. So I was never tempted to take money, never even considered it.

BLYTHE: That’s awesome!  And tell us about your gym switch after Worlds? You being the world champion, it was pretty publicized at the time. Why did you choose to make that change and how did you choose to go to Mary Lee Tracy in Cincinnati?

KAYLA: It was just kind of a tough situation at my gym. I had been there ever since my career had started. After Worlds, we just went through some tough times between my family and the coaches. And although I spent more time with them than I did my actual family, it was just for the better for me and my future as a gymnast to just move on. I talked to a lot of the coaches that were on the national scene. It just wasn’t an option to stay in West Virginia. We didn’t have the coaching staff that some other places do. I had seen Mary Lee at some national training camps, all the gymnasts that she’s produced in the past. I gave her a phone call and asked her if I could at least come train for a few weeks and she was like absolutely.  Come on up. And we hit it off right then and there. She’s a great role model to me. We are in touch constantly. I love her to death. It was a great decision for me.

BLYTHE: Well that’s awesome. If you don’t mind my asking, what was the issue between your parents and your coaches in West Virginia?

KAYLA: We just had a little bit of a fallout. It wasn’t anything to publicize. It was just a tough time.

BLYTHE: Sure, sure. What was training with Mary Lee like in comparison to training with your coaches in West Virginia?

KAYLA: It was very different. As a lot of elite gymnasts are, your coach knows best. They have it all planned out so you don’t really question it. You just go and you do what you’re told. That’s how most elites train. But with Mary Lee when I got there, it was well can we do this? How do you feel about doing this? Do you want to try this? It was a lot more communication than I was used to. It took a while for me to get used to it. She was like I’m not going to yell at you. I’m not going to make you do it. It’s your own choice. So that was different for me. But I think it helped me grow as a gymnast and it helped me a lot in college because that’s how we operate here at Alabama. It’s great communication between the coaches and us. So that helped me for my future.

BLYTHE: I see. And speaking of Alabama, I’m sure that you were recruited by absolutely everybody. And so what made you choose Bama?

KAYLA: I took a visit here and it felt like home. All the girls were so welcoming and the coaches were welcoming. I didn’t feel like I was being sold. I feel like a lot of places you visit, it’s kind of they’re trying to sell you their program, sell you their history. But with the Alabama coaches, I felt like it was this is what we have. This is what we can offer you. We can lead you to this in the future. And I really felt like it was genuine.

BLYTHE: And you’ve already been a part of an NCAA championship team. Can you tell me about the difference between competing at the NCAA championships and competing at the US national championships for example?

KAYLA: I don’t think you can even compare the two honestly because elite level gymnastics is for yourself. You’re not doing it for the girl standing next to you or the person that’s competing right after you. You’re doing it for yourself and when you come to college, there’s nothing that you’re doing for yourself. You’re doing it for your team and you’re doing it for a team title not for yourself. If you gain an individual title out of it, good job. But the main goal is to compete for your team. So I don’t think you can even compare the two.

BLYTHE: Understood. And gymnastics wise, what’s on your wish list for this season?

KAYLA: Well I think, we’ve already started on it a little bit. I was really impressed with how quickly this team clicked and the chemistry that we have. So that’s definitely something that you always hope for when you’re going to be spending this much time, you know a giant group of girls, that everybody gets along. You know, this team’s amazing. But definitely just go out, take it one meet at a time, have as many wins as possible. You know of course, everybody wants an SEC title, a national title. But I think if we just take it one step at a time, my wish list is set.

BLYTHE: Absolutely. And a lot of times, people talk about how, when you’re formerly an elite gymnast, you come into college and it’s just kind of about maintaining your skills. Have you learned any new skills and are you planning any upgrades for this season?

KAYLA: I don’t think I have any upgrades going this season. Coming into college, I feel like I changed some stuff on beam. I added a Popa on beam, which is something that I’d never competed before in elite. Floor, vault, and bars, I haven’t really learned any new skills. So that definitely is maintaining but I feel like you kind have to learn how to do everything a little bit differently because it’s not just chuck and go. With college, you have to be a lot more meticulous about what you’re doing and how you’re landing it. You know, your body’s not as young as it was in elite and not quite as fresh so you have to be really careful about the landings that you’re taking. So you definitely have to train differently. But I don’t feel like I’ve changed a lot of skills since I’ve been here.

BLYTHE: I see. And I’m sure that college is also just a process of learning. I was wondering what you and your teammates have learned from being at Alabama and doing gymnastics there and what you’ve learned from each other. Is there anything in particular that pops into your head?

KAYLA: I definitely think one of the biggest things is what I mentioned earlier is that you’re not doing it for yourself anymore. Even as a JO kid, when you get to nationals and you’re competing for your region, you’re still competing for yourself. But college is not like that whatsoever. You know, you’re doing it for the next girl in line, for the rest of your team, for your coaches, for your university. It’s very selfless. I think that’s something that each of us learns in our own way. Some catch on quicker than others. But I definitely think that’s the biggest thing you learn coming into college gym.

BLYTHE: Do you still keep up with your 2009 world teammates? 3 of the 4 of you are now competing NCAA gymnastics for three different schools. Is there a rivalry between you guys?

KAYLA: I wouldn’t say rivalry per se. It’s competitive no matter what team you’re on of course. I wouldn’t really say we keep in touch on a daily basis but we see each other often enough during competition season. You know, it’s always great to catch up with them and make sure they’re doing okay and feeling good.

BLYTHE: Totally. And outside of the gym, what are you studying? Have you begun thinking about what you’re going to do when you’re done?

KAYLA: I’m a public relations major with a minor in psychology. I don’t have any set plans for after graduation but I really like the field of work that I’m studying and I hope to pursue a career in it one day.

BLYTHE: Very nice. How did you choose public relations?

KAYLA: Actually Ashley Sledge, my former teammate, she kind of reeled me in. I originally came in wanting to do exercise science. I wanted to coach college gymnastics and I still do. I was just like I don’t know if exercise science is for me. And she was like well I’m studying PR and was telling me all about it. I was like that sounds wonderful. So I went and talked to her advisor and switched over to PR and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s right up my alley, all my strengths.

BLYTHE: That’s fantastic! Well Kayla, is there anything else you would like to add, anything we’ve forgotten to ask?

KAYLA: I just really think with this team, at Alabama, we have a great opportunity to do great things this year. We have great chemistry. We have an exceptional group coming in with freshmen and a lot of upperclassmen who have experienced a lot. I just think that’s something to keep in mind as this season comes around. This team has the potential to do great things.

BLYTHE: Alright and we will all be watching. Kayla, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us and the very best of luck for this upcoming season and beyond.

KAYLA: Thank you!

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: Sarah Patterson is a legend in NCAA gymnastics. The rivalry she and former Georgia gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan created made SEC gymnastics what it is today as far as I’m concerned. They one-upped each other in everything from attendance records to fancy locker rooms to wearing ball gowns to their meets and of course, NCAA championships. Alabama is one of only five gymnastics teams to ever win an NCAA title. The Crimson Tide has won six national titles under Patterson’s leadership. We pick up the interview as Blythe had just asked her what she wanted to discuss on the show.

SARAH: I think what’s important for our sport and I think sometimes it gets overlooked is the promotion of the sport in terms of putting people in the stands collegiately and having a great crowd and a fan base so that other colleges either might want to add gymnastics or that people know that this is a spectator sport. Because if you look at the Olympics, you know the Summer Olympics, gymnastics is one of the most viewed sports over all the Olympics. So you know, I just feel like we need to do a better job of making it fan friendly so it’s not just once every four years.

BLYTHE: Oh we absolutely want to talk about that! And I feel like at Alabama, that is something that you have done especially well.

SARAH: Well I think we’re very passionate about it.

BLYTHE: And so where is the disconnect? If gymnastics is so well-regarded during the Olympic Games, and it is really one of the top tier sports, and yet you think about NCAA sports, and it’s all about football. It’s all about basketball. And it’s less about gymnastics probably, except for a few select schools. Like Alabama is totally one of those schools. So what have you done? What’s your magic formula you know?

SARAH: Well first of all, I understand when you say that about football, but I mean in my opinion, our football program at the University of Alabama has afforded me and our program at Alabama the opportunity to compete at the highest level of collegiate gymnastics. It’s because of the funding and the support that we have because of the millions of dollars our football program generates that that’s what allowed us years ago- my husband and I have been here now, this is 36 years. It allowed us the opportunity to get grow our program and to get it to the highest level. For example, in after my first year of coaching here at the University, Coach Bryant gave us four scholarships to work with. And you know Title IX was emerging and so we got those scholarships and we brought in our first recruiting class. And those women were the ones that went four years later to our first national championship. And we’ve been to 30 national championships. So Coach Bryant and the football program, he was the athletic director, but he was the one that saw we could be successful. He loved winners. And he is the one that gave us those scholarships that helped us propel our program forward.


BLYTHE: So it was really him, like it wasn’t the athletic department. It was him saying to you Sarah, I want you to have these four scholarships so that you can continue to build your program.


SARAH: Well I think it ultimately women’s sports our programs merged, we were two programs: men’s athletics, women’s athletics. Programs merged at that point in time. My first year here. Right when I was being hired, he was the athletic director and then so we went one year and it was the first time we didn’t have a losing season. And so you know at that point in time, I feel like he invested in us from even that day one. I can tell you my experience goes way back to in the early days I talked to Pat Summitt, a lot of other coaches, and they told me if you’re not willing to market and promote as much as you are to coach and recruit, then you’re going to compete in front of no one. Well, I can tell you here at the University of Alabama, one of the reasons we have great support and are funded is because we put 12,000 people in the stands.




SARAH: So from an athletic administration point I think sometimes coaches are, they don’t pay attention to the point that if you’re drawing, let’s even go down. If you’re drawing 5, 6, 7,000 fans on a weekly basis for home meets, that’s going to be more than most of your other women’s sports. So if you want to have that attention and how do I get my program to be in the higher echelon of my institution’s programs, I think it comes down to people in the seats. You put people in the stands, and you generate revenue, and I’m not saying that it pays for your budget but it shows your institution well if they’re spending multiple millions of dollars on other sports, why don’t you put your emphasis on the sports that draws the most fans. And I think sometimes college coaches get too caught up in, they think their only job is to coach. And I don’t feel that’s true. I feel like we have a multi tasking job. It’s to help our athletes be better people, to help them grow and mature just like you saw and spoke of Kayla doing during her three year career here, and it’s to make our sport marketable, and to draw fans.


BLYTHE: What do you think drew the fans to Alabama’s program initially? At some point when you start off, you have very few spectators. And now you draw huge crowds. Was it winning? Was it the format? Was it something else?


SARAH: Well I think there were a couple of things. I think one was winning. And then we hosted a few championships. And we won here at home. So then our fanbase grew. And then I feel like I spend as much time now in the beginning part of our season marketing and promoting our program as I did when I was 25 years old.


BLYTHE: I see. I see. Do you have any advice for the men? We’re sort of continually bemoaning the very slow decline of men’s gymnastics. From 100 something programs 20 years ago to 17 today. As a very successful NCAA women’s coach, what would you say to somebody like Fred Turoff at Temple?


SARAH: Well I think part of the reason the men had to choose their sports is because I think that they with Title IX you had to have equal representation. So in some instances there were many more men’s programs in multi sports than there were women’s programs. So when the funding became an issue, I think then they’re going to go to who has lesser programs. And how many people are supporting your program. So I think whether it’s a men’s gymnastics program or a women’s gymnastics program, I think you know it’s the fact that you make yourself important to your university. Whether it’s academically, we’re striving to achieve 13 scholastic all american honors each year. You’re striving to put 12,000 people in the stands each year. You’re striving to perform as much or more community service than any other team at your university. I think all those things are important. And I feel like well in some institutions maybe people are questioning well is women’s gymnastics important. I feel very confident in saying at the University of Alabama, we have helped make ourselves important by placing the emphasis on that. But from a fan perspective, you’ve got to win.




SARAH: I’m not saying winning a national championship, but I’m saying you have to be productive. We’ve been out of our years at the NCAA Championship there’s been two years where we weren’t in the top six.


BLYTHE: And alright, one last question in this vein and then we’ll stop talking about money. But we were curious how football money gets funneled exactly to gymnastics. Is it profit sharing? Or do you do your own budget and submit it to the athletic department? Or how does that work?


SARAH: Well every institution has however they’re funded through money they back from their conference offices, for football revenue or men’s basketball revenue, it’s up to each institution how they fund their programs. We’re just very fortunate that you know we’ve not had very many down years in our football program where putting 103,000 people in the stands at a football game and generating a tremendous amount of revenue. But I’m very appreciate of the fact that in the early stages it gave us the opportunity to be successful and to build our program.


BLYTHE: I see. Ok. Well why don’t you tell us about the team outlook this year and maybe what makes this year’s team different from other years. To sort of come back to the present you know.


SARAH: I think our team, I think we are if I had to use a phrase to define them right now, I would say they are a very blue collar, hard working team. I don’t feel, even though we may have some standouts that were all americans or national champions, I really don’t feel like we have any individual people that place themselves above the team. I think we’re, and I think that’s one of the things I love about this group of women. It’s just, they’re hard workers.


BLYTHE: I see. And what do you tell a gymnast after they’ve gotten an NCAA title? How do you motivate them to continue working hard for the next week? Because I’m sure there’s the temptation you know after working so hard to attain the NCAA Championship to just slack off, to cut a little bit, to think maybe I can do it again and not work quite as much. How do you counter that?


SARAH: Well I think there has to be a hunger there. But you know we try and bring people in that understand that. After we won before in different years, I would ask Coach Saban to talk to our team. And he was very honest after they won the first National Championship then they didn’t win, he shared with our team he thought that they were complacent and felt like they deserved to win. We just try and instill in these athletes that each year we’re starting over. Doesn’t matter if you’ve won the year before or you’ve won two years in a row, or you finished third. It doesn’t really matter. You have to start over and build that team. And each team is different. Doesn’t matter if you have two freshmen or you have six freshmen, they’re different teams and you have to work that component to get that unity and camaraderie.


BLYTHE: Ok. And 2013 looking back on that year, it was such a huge year for NCAA women’s gymnastics, basically due to Florida winning and becoming the fifth team. And so we talked about the big four for so long. And in your opinion, what has changed in NCAA gymnastics that’s now allowing teams like Florida and Oklahoma a chance to compete for the NCAA title?


SARAH: I think you have some great athletic directors that have- I remember when Arkansas started their program 10 years ago. Their athletic director flew in here to the university, talked to us as coaches, watched a meet, talked to our marketing people. They wanted to start a program and compete at the highest level. Well first of all that was a great compliment that they came here and wanted to mirror a program that grew to the top. But I think when you have an athletic director at a school that has a great deal of success, I think they’re willing to put the resources into making their program successful.


BLYTHE: Interesting. Very interesting. And you must have a fantastic athletic director at Alabama as well. And one of the things we love to see as people who follow the sport are some of the videos the sports media team has been putting out. In particular the two for Tuesdays. And I wanted to ask you about a particular one of those that came out a few weeks ago which featured Sarah DeMeo training an arabian double pike which I don’t think is something we’ve ever seen in NCAA gymnastics. And we want to know, will she actually be competing it?


SARAH: Well that’s interesting that- I didn’t know that nobody had competed it. Right now, I do think Sarah will compete that. We’re going to start off the season- because of vacation time and stuff we’re going to start off a little slower. But I feel like we’ll get out there and we’ll compete the double arabian tucked but I think there is a good possibility that she can do that. I’m about putting the biggest skills out on the floor that you can do as long as a) you have to preserve your team, and b) they have to be consistent. But you know I’m all about competing at the highest level that we can and then putting ourselves in a position where if you make a mistake in competition, it’s one out of nine times. You know you’re very consistent. Because I think consistency builds confidence.


BLYTHE: Right. How much are you willing to give away? Say you’ve got a gymnast who’s doing a double pike, and she can stick the double pike or stick or take a half tenth hop or whatever like that and she’s doing that on a consistent basis. But she’s also working maybe a double layout. But the double layout she risks taking a step or a big hop. Where do you go as a coach in terms of the double layout is the bigger more spectacular skill, but the double pike’s a little more consistent. When do you let her compete that and when do you let her go for the double layout?


SARAH: Well I think for us, to me, I would rather see a double layout that has a step and a step backwards. I think it’s about preserving your team and being- think you can, you have to control the things you can control. Because sometimes in our sport, there are injuries that just are freak of nature. So if an athlete is performing a skill and has multiple short landings, well then I’m going to go with a skill where their chest is up and they have a safe landing.




SARAH: Because when you think about the athletes competing since they were 8, 9, 10 years old, and some of the, especially if they’re at the elite level, I mean think of the landings. I will say one of my concerns right now coming out of USA Gymnastics and world gymnastics is stuck landing on floor. We’re having a hard time right now with some people making them take that controlled step backward in their tumbling passes because they’ve been so programmed that two foot stick that they have to do in the elite program. And when you think about it, for these kids that are in the upcoming elite program now, if you think about it and they’re starting at 10 years old taking those landings, that’s going to be some wear and tear by the time they’re 22 years old.


BLYTHE: Mhmm. Are there any other issues that you’ve noticed from former elites coming in? Like for example on balance beam, 15 years ago it was all about the back handspring layout stepout layout stepout series. And now it’s just like one back handspring layout. And it just seems like they’re not coming back into the code. And so are you seeing anything like that, trends?

SARAH: It really depends on what the athlete’s skills are as they’re coming in. What we try and do here at the University of Alabama, we’ve had some athletes that have come right from the Olympics and come here and I look at them and say what do you love to do. I want them to have a routine that with skills in it that they love. And sometimes in the elite program I think they have to do some skills they really don’t like. And in the back of their mind they’re afraid of. But they have to do them to get that huge start value that they need. I want the athlete to love what they’re doing. And sometimes I think it’s been a tough road and we spend a little bit of time, that freshman and sophomore year putting that love back in the sport for them. And to me that’s important.


BLYTHE: Yeah. Oh absolutely. Is there any skill that you’re seeing a lot of former elites coming to you who they’ve done it in level 10 or in elite and they just really don’t like doing it? Is there a universally detested skill?


SARAH: We’ve seen a lot of arabians on beam. And when they get to college they don’t like it.




SARAH: They just don’t like it. And I also think you know some kids are maybe afraid, but they’ve had to compete a round off double back. And but they’re not really comfortable with it but they had to do it. And I think when you go 13 weeks in a row, we’ll probably have two athletes this year do round off double backs. But I will tell you I’ve had athletes in my career that were afraid of it. And I don’t want an athlete to be afraid of something. I want her to embrace it so that she can be better at it.


BLYTHE: Let’s talk about early recruiting for a second. It’s been kind of a hot topic recently. How do you feel about it and do you have a policy on it at Alabama?


SARAH: We don’t have a policy. I do think it would be, if I had my opinion, our collegiate association voted last year that we were, and I can’t remember what the exact rule was that we voted, but we voted as a group that we wanted to curtail this a little bit. And you know not be pushed to offering 9th graders or 8th graders or however it gets ahead of time. So the coaches association voted that way, took it to the NCAA, and unfortunately at that point in time the NCAA was in a holding pattern that they were not going to put any new things forward. So even though all the coaches, it was a majority agreed with it, it didn’t get forwarded from the NCAA. And then I think at that point, then people just started moving forward. And I guess you know in my mind, I would’ve liked if we had done what our coaches association had planned on. But that didn’t happen. And until the rules are in place for everyone through the NCAA, I feel it’s going to continue. And I think it will definitely hurt our sport in some aspects.


BLYTHE: Ok. We had Terin Humphrey on the show a couple weeks ago and she talked about her time at Alabama. And she mentioned it was more of a coaching decision that she was to retire. And I’m sure it’s different for every athlete, but as a coach, how do you gauge when you think an athlete under your care should be done with the sport?


SARAH: Oh I think so much of it is I think it’s their- as a coach you don’t want to see people hurt. And I think that’s the hard part for everybody. I think they just kind of- you don’t want to see anyone in constant pain. And you know we’ve had different gymnasts over the years that just their bodies have handled a lot. And so I think it’s up to the athletes, the coaches, and the medical staff to just determine what’s best for an individual. And I can tell you, there is not a gymnast that I know that’s ever retired that wanted to because these young ladies have been doing the sport since they were 7 and 8 years old. And even our gymnasts that finish their eligibility, they’re not ready to be done. Their bodies might be ready to be done, but mentally, I think one of the difficult challenges that we have as coaches is to help these athletes after they complete their career, whenever it is, to move to the next level. And sometimes we’ve had athletes that might finish their career, I go back to in 1988 we won a national championship, we had an athlete finish her career. She graduated two weeks later. And two weeks later got married. Those are some huge adjustments. And I think as coaches that’s what we’re helping them try to get ready for. But none of them, I don’t know of a gymnast that maybe physically they were ready to be done, but I really don’t know of any gymnast that was ever really mentally ready to be done with the sport they loved since they were a child.


BLYTHE: How do you help them transition out of that? You know when something that you’ve done since you were 5, 6, 7 years old goes out of your life because of you exhaust your NCAA eligibility or there’s an injury. What do you say and what do you do?


SARAH: Well I think some of the most important things we can do now that maybe years ago we didn’t have the opportunity to was athletes can, if they’re on an athletic scholarship, they can graduate in five years, not necessarily four. So for example if an athlete finishes their eligibility and has one more year of school, during that year of time I think it’s really important to help them gain experience in the working world. Because like maybe an athlete has had a great career, but they’ve trained full time during their life. They’ve many of them have never had a job. So we do what I feel is very important and trying to put them in situations where they go shadow someone in the career field that they want. Maybe they might work there in the summer part time to gain experience. Because the biggest thing I want someone to know that when they’re majoring in something, ok you want to major in something but if you don’t have any experience or ever watched somebody in it, how do you really know?




SARAH: So I think if someone feels like they want to go to physicians assistant or physical therapy school, I think we do a good job of putting them in an environment whether if it’s for a week, a few days, where they get to watch somebody that has done that. And then they know ok well this is my career path. Because when we go back and we talk about football, well there for the most part there isn’t any pro gymnastics. Our job to me as coaches is to help these young women put them in a position to be exceptionally successful once they get done.




JESSICA: THat’s going to do it for us this week. Thanks so much for listening. Watch the NCAA meets and send us your thoughts on what you want us to discuss and we’ll see you next week.



[expand title=”Episode 70: The 2014 NCAA Season Has Begun!”]

EVAN: Her double layout is probably like this new album that dropped. We’ve had albums before, we’ve seen double layouts before, but this one just was earth shattering. There’s time to like raise a child in the middle of it and it was amazing.




JESSICA: Today, Finnegan back competing, Iordache to the American Cup, and NCAA has finally begun.


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 We’ve got your back.


JESSICA: This is episode 70 for January 15, 2014. I’m Jessica from masters-gymnastics


UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym. And we have Evan Heiter with us




EVAN: I was muted and there was a really big delay in my clicking




EVAN: And I was scrambling


JESSICA: Evan is fired already.

EVAN: I’m Evan and I’m from Michigan, but you can also find me on Twitter @yoev


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Alright. This is the number one gymnastics podcast of all time, bringing you all the news from around the gymternet. First thing this week, I want to remind you guys that our listener survey is up. We always want your opinions so we can make the show better. It only takes about five minutes to take the survey. And there have been some great and hilarious responses on there so please please take time to take the survey and let us know what you want more of. There’s always some questions in there for our sponsors so we can help pay the bills. Like the new equipment we are trying out on this episode. So let us know if you notice a difference. Hopefully it’s much much better because we use all of our proceeds and put it right back in the show to make it better for you. So let’s discuss the first bit of news. Olympic alternate Sarah Finnegan is back in competition. She competed this weekend in Hawaii. She did, it seemed like this was kind of a tester meet from what she did in her routines. She’s coming back from a pretty serious elbow surgery I think. And she competed almost a full beam routine except for the dismount. She did a triple wolf turn on beam which is that ugly squatty turn that only three people in the world can make look good. It was a little rough, that turn. But she did it pretty well. She did a triple. She’s training a bhardwaj in one of the videos, a full twisting pak salto from high bar to low bar. I’m describing all these because in the feedback you guys have said that sometimes you need help remember what all these skills are. So it’s when you do a flippy from high bar to low bar and do a full twist. And oh my god it was beautiful. Did you guys watch that bhardwaj?


EVAN: I did. I thought it was really well executed. I mean she gets her toes up I think really early in the skill. And then almost stalls it out so the twist happens independently. As opposed to when the bhardwaj originated there was kind of and we’re turning and we’re letting go and we’re flipping. So I thought she segmented the skill really really appropriately.


JESSICA: Yeah I thought it was really pretty. Like she almost, she completes it almost in a vertical position instead of as she’s moving through which is so rare. I really liked watching that. I don’t know if she actually competed it. And then one of our listeners said that if she added a double pike dismount to her beam routine it would have a 7.1 start value. So it’s exciting to see her back, seeing her kind of testing out her elbow again and just going to kind of a fun meet in Hawaii. Who wouldn’t want to go to Hawaii for their first meet back in competition? Evan what are your thoughts?


EVAN: I thought she looked good in general. Like you said this was just kind of a tester meet, so it’s a bit hard to gauge her overall fitness level. I thought she looked a bit taller and more mature. She actually looked to me like a 2006 Chellsie Memmel. Just her gymnastics has changed and developed I think along with some years going by. I did think it was interesting though about her elbow because I remember Terin Humphrey also from GAGE had really major elbow issues as well. So hopefully Sarah’s is taken care of and they’re keeping their thumb over that one because I was like oh connection, hm.


UNCLE TIM: Well I guess I don’t necessarily like the composition of her beam routine. So I mean as we discussed she’s competing this new skill on the bars. And you know it’s hard because the word hard is in the name bhardwaj right? Her beam routine on the other hand, it just doesn’t look hard. Like if she had a 7.1 start value just doesn’t seem hard. So if you put Larisa Iordache’s beam routine up against Sarah Finnegan’s obviously Larisa’s would look harder because she would be doing the two back fulls even though she would only have a 6.9 in difficulty. But you know I guess it’s chalk it up to code whoring. She does that long connected sequence of leaps into tumbling skills. And so yeah. It seems like that’s where she gets a lot of her difficulty connection. So good for her for figuring out how to break the code and code whore in a different way.


JESSICA: That’s interesting because I like her routine because I feel like she does everything except a full. Like she has every kind of flip. She has an arabian, she has a side flip, she has a front aerial, she has a back flip, she has a series of back tumbling, she has stuff connected to leaps and jumps. Whereas I feel like Iordache, she’s doing really hard stuff but she does the same thing twice.


UNCLE TIM: I can see that. Yeah.


EVAN: But, let’s draw the Memmel comparison even further. That’s totally the Memmel approach to beam and gymnastics. Albeit I think Finnegan has much more presentation on her side, but I think that’s how Memmel established herself on the even in years past as well.


JESSICA: I want to get back to this when we talk about NCAA because I think there’s some teams who are doing exactly this. They’re doing everything but a series. And it’s difficult but they’re doing like totally side flips and individual difficult stuff compared to a really hard back skill kind of. Anyway. Alright we’ll get back to this. Let’s talk about the American Cup roster. This is so freaking exciting. I feel like this meet just got last year was good and now I feel like it went up like 100 degrees better.


UNCLE TIM: Alright, so on the men’s side just to name a few of the competitors we have Sergio Sasaki, who I believe is one of Jess’ favorites. He’s 21 now. Is that correct Jess?


JESSICA: That’s right, so I can say all the things I’ve always wanted to say about him because he’s 21. He’s so hot. Oh my god.


UNCLE TIM: And then we also have Fabian Hambuchen of Germany, Daniel Purvis, the man who vaulted onto the judges’ faces at one point, Max Whitlock, the man who we want to do airflares on pommel horse. From America we also have Sam Mikulak and John Orozco. On the women’s side we have gymternet favorite Victoria Moors of Canada, then Italy’s Carlotta Ferlito and Vanessa Ferrari, and Jess you were super excited for Larisa Iordache to be there. And then from the United States we currently have Simone Biles and Kyla Ross. And as we know in the past, you never know if those are the two US athletes who will actually compete. I guess I’ll start the comments by saying I’m kind of dreading this meet because the gymternet never forgets. And all we will hear about is Carlotta Ferlito’s racist remarks. USA Today already ran an article about it. And it was written by Nancy Armour. And I really love Nancy but when I saw this article it made me roll my eyes so hard that I sprained my face. So I mean what do you guys think about that? Do you feel like there’s a better way to frame this meet rather than the racist vs the African American girl?


JESSICA: I defer to you Evan.


EVAN: Well. I do think that it’s kind of a moot point. But you know looking at it from a pure media standpoint, I feel like you know it’s the year, a couple years after the Olympics, there’s no real story behind it at this point. So you know in the world of sports and the world in media, you take what you can get. So unfortunately as you know follows Paula Deen around at every turn now, when you say stuff like that, it’s kind of you know sticking around. Whether or not it’s been resolved or rectified, I didn’t even care to go that far. But I do feel like you know looking at it like well we gotta say something, might as well. You know I understand.


JESSICA: I mean that’s the argument is is any publicity good publicity? And in some cases, for a sport like ours in a non Olympic year, hm. And she brought this upon herself. It’s her own damn fault. If she didn’t, too bad if she didn’t want this kind of publicity, whatever. The thing that I don’t want is I don’t want Simone brought into it at all because she has nothing to do with it. Zero zero zero. So if anyone asks her about it I’m going to want to punch them in the face. Ok. Which is a good thing I’m not going to be there because everyone’s going to ask her about it. But the good thing about this being framed this way possibly is it’s an opportunity for Simone to show how freaking awesome she is and for Carlotta to show that she was an idiot and made a mistake and show how sports can bring people together and be about something more than ancient stupid comments made in ignorance. And hopefully that’s what we’ll see out of this. And those two can rise above it and bring sports to a higher plane where it should be.


UNCLE TIM: And do you guys think Simone and Kyla will be the two US female gymnasts who will represent the United States?


JESSICA: I hope so. But you never know. Who would you want to see if it’s not them? If for some reason they can’t compete, which hopefully they’re super healthy and it’s not going to be any problem.


EVAN: That’s interesting. I would generally say I don’t think it’s going to be them unfortunately. I, although I mean who are new seniors this year? Is Dennis a senior this year? Nia Dennis?


JESSICA: I feel like she is. I think she is. She would be amazing.


EVAN: I don’t know. I feel like I’m still starting the year and I’m like I don’t remember anything, I don’t remember anyone, whoever shows up will be there. We’ll move on. I’m a bad answerer for this question.


JESSICA: We’re going to have to look at the new list and figure out who we want. I mean Elizabeth Price I think would be a great one to go and she’s proven herself recently. Who else.


UNCLE TIM: So Nia Dennis was born in 1999 so I would say that let me think she’d turn 15 this year. If I’m doing the math- yeah, 15.


JESSICA: Alright. Nia Dennis and Elizabeth Price. Oh my god Nia Dennis is just. Is Norah Flately- no Norah Flately, she’s like two years to go right?


EVAN: I think she’s like seven




JESSICA: We have so long to wait for her. One more thing about American Cup. I am just hoping that it’ll be Sam Mikulak’s airflares versus Max Whitlock’s airflares and that Max Whitlock will give Sam even more pointers. Because if Paul Hamm and Max Whitlock both give him pointers then he should end up having the best airflares in the history of the world and then easily translate them right over to pommel horse.


EVAN: You’ve done it. You’ve solved the equation


JESSICA: I’ve solved all of men’s gymnastics problems with one comment, one sentence. Moving onto NCAA quiz. So we have some international listeners to have been asking a lot of questions about NCAA. They’re like we want to get excited but we don’t know what the hell you guys are talking about. We don’t have that here. So Jimanez Himora from Mexico wrote in and she was like I have a whole bunch of questions and I was like write them down and we will answer them for you. So I’m going to do a quiz based on her questions. To answer you have to wait till I finish the whole question, no buzzing in early. And you’re going to say your name to answer. So you wait till I finish then you’re going to yell out “Uncle Tim” and then I’ll call on you. Then there’s three bonus questions. And I will give you extra points for the bonus questions if you answer them in a creative way. So I saved the funny ones for the end. So are you ready?




JESSICA: Ok first question. How many, ok these are all based on division I, only division I. It’s too complicated to go into division II and division III. So. How many full scholarships can a division I team offer?




JESSICA: Uncle Tim


UNCLE TIM: 12 on the women’s side and 6.3 on the men’s side


JESSICA: Really? Men only get 6.3?




JESSICA: Oh I didn’t know that. Next question. How many athletes can be on a team and do they all have to compete?


EVAN: Evan. You can have unlimited athletes on a women’s team. Men, I believe is kept at 24. And I don’t believe there’s a requirement for competition.


JESSICA: Number 3. You’re all correct so far of course. Number 3. If you are a regular student, can you apply to be on the team?


EVAN: Evan. Yes.


JESSICA: And what would that be called?


EVAN: Walk on-ing.


JESSICA: That’s right


UNCLE TIM: Is that you Evan? Were you a walkon?


EVAN: Yes this was my life


JESSICA: And can you talk about that for Ms. Amora in Mexico and tell her how that worked?


EVAN: Yeah so obviously walkons are affiliated with gymnastics before showing up to campus. You know there are some sports that just kind of recruit people based on hey you look pretty athletic or pretty strong, but gymnastics takes a lot of time to develop. So most times, you know you can begin to talk to coaches or other athletes when it is NCAA compliantly appropriate of course, and just start forming those relationships. For me, it was never like I’m gunning for a scholarship. You know it was just something that happened through existing relationships in the gymnastics community. And I was fortunate enough to kind of capitalize on that and stick around for four years. So that’s how that went.


JESSICA: And some people, what happens is like they a team will have a whole bunch of injuries and they’ll be like what are they called, intracollegiate squad who just practice for fun or maybe they compete with other colleges but they’re just a club team. And a team will have so many injuries that they’ll go and watch that practice and say we really need good vaulter and you can do a tsukahara so do you want to compete for us and they’ll have someone walk on for a semester just to fill a spot. Who was just on that said they recruited a cheerleader?


UNCLE TIM: Jill Hicks


JESSICA: Yeah Jill Hicks was talking about that they needed a tumbler and were like hey you can do a double full? Walk on to our team. Ok next question. What is a redshirt year?


EVAN: Evan




EVAN: It is a season that you do not compete due to injury. And it has to be officially accepted and approved. And it’s based on percentage. So if you compete, I believe it’s less than a third of the season, you’re eligible for a redshirt.


UNCLE TIM: 20%. It’s 20%


JESSICA: Perfect. So that’s how Ms. Amora asked how can you compete part of the season but not the rest of the season. That’s a redshirt. So basically as long as you get hurt in the beginning of the season in the first 20% of the season, your year doesn’t count and you get a redshirt year.


EVAN: But don’t get hurt anyone. No injuries.


JESSICA: Anyone ever. Exactly. Right.


UNCLE TIM: You’ll mess up my fantasy gymnastics team.


JESSICA: Oh my god mine’s so messed up already.


EVAN: I can’t. I can’t even.


JESSICA: If you are injured can you lose your scholarship because you got injured?


UNCLE TIM: You can be- Tim. You can be medicalled and you don’t necessarily lose your scholarship per se. But that scholarship then becomes available for another gymnast if I’m not mistaken.


JESSICA: Yeah that one’s kind of tricky because it’s like you still get because you were hurt doing your sport, you still they’ll still pay for you to go to school. But technically you don’t have a gymnastics scholarship anymore, you have a medical injury scholarship. So technically if you get hurt they can’t be like sorry sucker, no college for you, go back home and work at McDonalds. They can’t do that. I bet that does happen at some schools but it’s technically against the NCAA rules. Do you like how I answered that one?




JESSICA: Because that’s what happens. If you don’t finish, that’s the-


EVAN: Did you say your name?


JESSICA: Why can some athletes join the team later like in January when school has already begun like Aja Simms at Alabama?


EVAN: I just want to say there is no rule limiting that because sports are looked at as pre-season and competition season. So there’s no requirement to fulfill both. I also don’t like that question.


JESSICA: [LAUGHS] Why don’t you like it?


EVAN: There’s just a lot of things that can happen. I’m speaking very hypothetically. There’s just no rule I believe for all intents and purposes.


JESSICA: Yeah so who knows. I don’t know. Will someone who’s done that, we’ll have to ask them why did you decide. Because they were just like being in college is so much better than being in high school, I can’t wait to get out of here, duh.


UNCLE TIM: I love how we don’t really have answers to any of these questions.




EVAN: I am not the NCAA query house. I do not know.


JESSICA: Why don’t athletes lose their- ok this I’m going to make a bonus question. Why don’t athletes lose their eligibility posing in leotard advertisements?




EVAN: Evan


JESSICA: I’m going to give it to Uncle Tim


UNCLE TIM: Because it’s modeling technically and they’re not getting paid for their sport to perform in their sport. They’re getting paid as models.


JESSICA: Is that why we never see them upside down or doing a flip or in a handstand in those modeling pictures?


UNCLE TIM: Perhaps


JESSICA: Next one. Is there a limit to the number of foreign athletes a school can have?


EVAN: Evan






JESSICA: Good answer. Is there a backlash from the general community when there are a ton of foreign athletes on a team? My own question.




JESSICA: Go ahead


UNCLE TIM: Yes in tennis there is definitely a backlash because there are no like maybe 30-40% of NCAA athletes are international. And so a lot of people feel that the American tennis players are not getting are getting overlooked.


JESSICA: And is there government funding for those scholarships that go to foreign athletes? Or do scholarship money come from fans? Should I answer this one?


EVAN: I don’t understand that question, yeah


JESSICA: A lot of people say when there’s a foreign athlete they’ll say I can’t believe our tax dollars are going to pay for that Swedish gymnast to do her yurchenko. No, scholarships are fan funded. They are totally outside. They’re not government money. So there you go.


UNCLE TIM: The problem though is if you have many international students, international tuition is usually much higher than national student tuition. I can be.




UNCLE TIM: It depends


JESSICA: It can cost a lot more. I mean just in California it’s what is it it’s like USC is $22,000 a year? Is that what is now? And then out of state’s like double that. So. Yeah. It can be incredibly expensive, cost a lot more to have an international athlete. Ok how many routines count toward the team score?


EVAN: Evan




EVAN: Five


JESSICA: Very good. And so you compete six, drop one. Can you change from one college and compete for another?


UNCLE TIM: Yes but I don’t know the rules


JESSICA: I think you have-


EVAN: So can I just assist him? This doesn’t have to be a competition right now.




EVAN: When you transfer within your conference, you have to sit out a mandatory year. When you would like to transfer out of your conference, as long as the program you’re with releases you of your essential obligation to that university and your scholarship, you’re able to compete immediately the following season for another school. If you’re not released you have to wait a year.


JESSICA: So one school could technically hold you hostage from going to another school and competing. You could go you just have to sit out a year and lose a year of eligibility.


EVAN: Right and you, yeah. And I actually agree with that because you know although it is unfortunate for the athletes, I do feel like a lot of time and investment are spent by the coaching staff and the athletic department to bring athletes in. And that’s why it’s you know a big undertaking making your college choice is so big. So that’s why you see a lot of people kind of wavering with that official commitment and national letter of, or signing day and you see some switching going on. Because I think they realize the magnitude of what’s going on.


JESSICA: Yeah I agree. And also college is supposed to be, it’s supposed to be about studying and education, not about athletics and competing. So technically this should be secondary to your academic choices if that’s really what happens. What is an all american? [LAUGHS] Nobody? Isn’t it like you’re in the top 10


UNCLE TIM: There’s a problem with the quiz when the person asking the questions doesn’t know the answers.




JESSICA: I thought you guys would know! Between the three of us we would for sure know the answer. Isn’t it you’re the top 10 in the country? Or the top-


EVAN: In women’s I feel like you can be top 30 or something. It’s like fourth team all american on beam last year


JESSICA: Oh that’s right there’s first team, second team. I don’t count first or second team. Oh wait I have a call-in from the couch. And Coop, in wrestling it’s top eight. So basically it should be top eight for everybody because- just so you guys know, if there had been women’s collegiate NCAA wrestling I would be an all american because I was fifth at nationals. Just so you guys know. So. None of us know the answer to that question, but in wrestling it’s top eight. It means you’re in the top.


EVAN: In men’s gymnastics I believe it’s top six. Top eight make event finals. In women’s, I want to say it’s top eight from your session. So that’s why it sometimes results in like 25 gymnasts on vault in NCAA event finals. And then somewhere in there, there’s a breakdown of first team and second team, which I cannot go into.


JESSICA: Oh good lord. Ok that makes sense. Because vault finals in women’s NCAA gymnastics is ridiculous. Ok bonus round. Double points for this round. Alright. Ok. Some athletes don’t compete, like Britney Barlington in Florida. Now these questions are from Jiminez by the way. But she earned a championship ring. Why is that? Evan I feel like you should answer this.


EVAN: Evan. So just because you’re not on the competitive lineup for championship meets doesn’t mean you’re not part of the official team roster. So you know it’s basically just being a part of the official team rather than competing. And that’s my answer.


JESSICA: Ok. I accept that. I accept your answer. Next one. Why is Marissa King not competing this year and still taking classes and living in Florida? Why is she still in school? But she’s done competing. How can this happen?




EVAN: Evan.




EVAN: You know, you don’t have to graduate as an NCAA athlete you don’t have to graduate in four years. You get your four years of eligibility and then you can essentially keep attending school as long as you need to to finish your degree if that’s what you’d like to pursue.


JESSICA: I would add to that that it is virtually impossible as a student athlete to graduate in four years unless you take summer school or intersessions every single session and never take a break. It’s almost impossible. Would you agree with that Evan?


EVAN: I would. I took at University of Michigan we had spring and summer semesters, and I think it was no mystery you needed to fit a few of those into your four years if you wanted to graduate within those.


JESSICA: Yeah and in general in the US it’s almost impossible to graduate in four years anymore because the schools are so crowded and unless you do AP classes which is like taking college stuff in high school or other stuff, it’s very hard to graduate in four years. So. Which is why it’s so freaking expensive, which is why everyone needs a scholarship, even if it’s for cheerleading. Number 10. Final bonus question. [LAUGHS] Can the athletes become part of a sorority? Ha ha, too many movies.




UNCLE TIM: Tim. Yes. You can be a sorority girl. Or a frat boy.


JESSICA: Do you guys know anybody that’s done that?


UNCLE TIM: What become-


JESSICA: A student athlete and be in a what are they called? Greeks.


EVAN: I do know, I know athletes who have been involved in Greek life, yeah.


JESSICA: There you go. The movies haven’t lied. Ms. Amora from Mexico, thank you so much for your questions. And this was very entertaining to test our knowledge. Oh wait I have to calculate. Ok I’ll do that and I’ll get to that in the end and I’ll let you know who won the quiz. Very serious quiz. [LAUGHS] Alright, Evan let’s discuss what happened in NCAA this weekend.


EVAN: So a lot of great things were already put on display, especially it seemed like the floor game has really kind of raised and we’re seeing some different things out there. Jess I know you had some questions and thoughts about where the bar is set essentially at this point in the season.


JESSICA: Yeah I feel like so I went to the UCLA Florida meet which was amazing and I watched some of the Oklahoma Georgia meet and a little bit of Alabama as well. And this, I just feel like if you want to make floor finals now, from what I saw this weekend, you need to have one or even two Es in your floor routine, like a double layout or double arabian. Or some really creative series like Lindsay Mable is doing who’s leading floor right now number one in the country after this first weekend or second technically. Second weekend of competition. She has like these really creative series where she’s doing a 1.5 stepout to a something else to a straddle jump to a front tuck. And the thing is her form is perfect. Like she’s landing like a stick and then taking a step back because she can just use it in her dance, not because she needs to. The most perfect landings you’ve ever seen. And I feel like you have to dance your ass off too if you’re going to get into floor finals. Like no one is going to be able to half ass it and just have the tumbling. From what I’ve seen this weekend, like Kytra Hunter’s double layout is mind blowing. It is earth shattering. It is, it will take you to a whole different world when you watch it live. It’s just so beautiful. I was just super impressed with what I’m seeing from floor. If you don’t have an E, forget about it.


EVAN: Right. I just want to say that Kytra Hunter’s probably the Beyonce of women’s collegiate gymnastics. Her double layout is probably like this new album that dropped. We’ve had albums before, we’ve seen double layouts before, but this one just was earth shattering. And people were just like yes Kytra. There’s time to like raise a child in the middle of it and it was amazing. So Kytra was really impressive. Otherwise though I think Florida looked like they were having some issues with the timing of the floor. That’s kind of gymnast speak. But it just looked like the bounce was not working for them. They looked like they were buckling a lot, especially Mackenzie Caquatto. I think that was just kind of a flukey thing. It just was not working for her against UCLA.


JESSICA: Yeah she just could not get her feet under her. At first I was like she injured? No she was not timing it correctly and she just couldn’t get her feet under her and couldn’t get the second flips around. It was really really weird because she’s usually a total rock. Then she went to beam and was amazing. So I don’t know what was going on there. Floor’s just, ugh. Then we have to talk about Kayla Williams because we’re back to the whole achilles problem and I’m like oh my god we need to change all the floors so we can stop the achilles massacre that’s going on in NCAA and in gymnastics as a whole right now. So do we have confirmation that she tore her achilles or is it just, it looks like it’s the achilles still?


EVAN: I had not heard that. I know that Kassandra Lopez from Utah had injured her Achilles so that was unfortunately the only one I had heard about up until this point.

JESSICA: Do you guys think Lindsey Mable can keep her spot?

EVAN: Okay here’s the thing. Right, here’s the thing. I also agree that Lindsey Mable had really great landing positions, some fun composition but unfortunately it just fell a little flat in the grand scheme of floor routines for me. Do I think that she deserved a 9.975? No. Plainly, I don’t. I think it was a great routine. But where are the judges at Minnesota hoping to push her to? Because unfortunately, I think that routine is almost identical to what she competed last year at Nationals. So by giving a 9.975 at this point in the season, I just feel like it’s a bit unrealistic. Not to knock Lindsey Mable at all, because the presentation, and she has some cool intricate horizontal turning choreography and it’s really pleasant in general, but I just feel like it’s not the time and it was unfortunately not the routine to get a 9.975. What do you guys think?

UNCLE TIM: I’d agree. I think it’s really early in the season to be giving out a 9.975. With that said, I’d have to go back and look at the rest of the routines to see what they got in comparison because one thing, especially under the 10, it’s really a ranking system rather than a scientific evaluation of execution I would say. And so if somebody, let’s say, got a 9.9 and didn’t have quite as great of landings, I think a 9.975 would’ve made sense in the overall scheme of the meet. But if were looking at the routine in general, it doesn’t really get me that excited. Like I said, neither did what’s her name, Hollie Vise’s routine back in what 2010 right? Was it 2010 that she competed floor again?

EVAN: Mmhmm

UNCLE TIM: She did quite well on floor that year so I don’t know.

EVAN: But probably not in the first meet of the season. Is that fair?


EVAN: Probably not. Right, so I think it’s just a little early. But we had another 9.975 this weekend too. Olivia Courtney on vault at UCLA. Jess, in person, let’s get your evaluation.

JESSICA: Yeah it was redonkulous in person. Yeah it was beautiful. That’s the thing. I was thinking they were going to give her a 10. It was a home meet. She stuck the crap out of it. It was late in the lineup. I think it was very fairly scored. She lands with her legs apart a little bit so I can understand that, that’s all the technique to stick it. But yeah it was a really, really nice vault. Kytra Hunter’s vault was insane and amazing and harder, but she took a little hop out of it. But that vault, if she sticks it, it should get an 11. But I think Olivia Courtney’s was totally fair and a really nice vault.

EVAN: Bridgeport, I didn’t see, they were at the Arkansas tri-meet correct between Arkansas and Western Michigan and Bridgeport. And they’re a DII team and they finished second behind Arkansas at that meet.

JESSICA: Yeah they’re one of those teams that I just feel like is, the way Oklahoma is just pushing it by having those ninja level 10s who are doing, like they are pushing the difficulty the same way that Florida pushed their difficulty way beyond everybody else to get over that hump, I feel like Bridgeport, they’re just doing a great job. I think we’re going to see them be a DII team that actually breaks in, which we’ve never really had a team, we’ve had individuals but a team that’s done that, I can’t think of a whole team. Something special is going on there. I’m just going to keep an eye on them.

EVAN: Is it Bridgeport or Brockport that I’m thinking of because those are both, and I would hate to mislead someone and not give credit where credit is due but Bridgeport, big ups to you. Something-port, you’re all doing great.

JESSICA: Bridgeport is the one that has the daughter of, Sasha

UNCLE TIM: Tsikanovich

JESSICA: who’s just amazing and should be in NCAA finals this year.

UNCLE TIM: She’s on my fantasy team and she didn’t score as well as she did last year. She was really in the 9.6 zone.

EVAN: Back to that meet, where someone, a couple of teams, when Arkansas competed, Katherine Grable rocked the house. She was at 39.475 or .445, just immaculate gymnastics. Katherine Grable is someone I can watch and will enjoy watching every weekend that they have a meet this year because her gymnastics is so Patterson-esque effortless. How’s that for ya?

JESSICA: Yes and her difficulty, shut up!

EVAN: Right? She’s raising the game. She’s halfing out of everything.

JESSICA: She did an Arabian half out on bars and she’s doing an Arabian half out on floor?! Like oh my God!!! I love her. I can watch her all day. You know how I love that she does that Barani step out and a Barani step out’s not hard but the way she does it, it makes your eyebrows go up and you look around like did everybody see that? Oooh what was that spiffy thing? It’s just oh I can’t get enough of her. I could just watch her all day long.

EVAN: Agreed. Agreed. Now can you watch Georgia’s floor routines as choreographed by Cassidy McComb this year? Russell Warfield, who I came to find out, didn’t do the choreography this year? Question mark eyebrow raise?

JESSICA: I was totally shocked right? Because he’s been there forever. He’s basically like one of the coaches there. For years, he’s been there. He would travel with them. He helped with recruiting. I mean he’s a staple of Georgia and I’ve seen two broadcasts this year where they’ve talked about how McComb is the choreographer and she gave specifics on each of the gymnasts. From what I’ve seen, she’s doing all of the choreography. Someone correct me if I’m wrong about this but that is what the two different broadcasts that I watched this weekend said. I was pleasantly surprised you guys. And I’m not saying I have huge, huge expectations for Georgia when it comes to choreography but there were no moments when I covered my eyes or looked incredulous or had to get up and run around the house screaming. And McComb’s hair is like totally normal this year too.

EVAN: She McCombed it?

JESSICA: She’s looking very professional. I don’t know. But Uncle Tim, you watched some of that meet too right?

UNCLE TIM: No I did not. It was not broadcast, no.

EVAN: Sadly, ruin my Sunday evening why don’t you Stanford? I was ready.

JESSICA: Give us an update. What just happened with Lindsey Mable?

EVAN: Lindsey just scored a 9.9 on floor at Washington tonight. So there’s that 9.975, 9.9 somewhere in the middle is where she’s at for this week. We’ll see. We’ll see.


JESSICA: And just to give some context for everybody so UCLA was competing against the reigning national champions Florida, let’s see who else did we talk about? Georgia was competing against Stanford and they also competed against Oklahoma. Alabama competed against Mizzou. And LSU was competing against Centenary. So that’s to give you a little context for our discussion tonight.

EVAN: But I guess kind of drawing a line back to Georgia, did anyone see the LSU highlights? They showed some of Ashleigh Gnat, some of Lloimincia Hall, and of course Rheagan Courville and one of my personal favorites, Jessie Jordan who I think is kind of a dark horse, unsung hero. But awesome gymnastics there. I really feel like LSU kind of looks like the great Georgia teams of a few years ago. And I think that’s a testament to not only DD Breaux and her gym and trying to take LSU to the next level but also Jay Clark, hello? He was at Georgia. He was preparing those teams. And they just look really good, really good.

JESSICA: They’ve got as the kids say, “swag.” They walk around like Georgia used to walk around, like no one can touch us. And they have such confidence. They have the kind of confidence that Oklahoma is competing with right now. And you know, Georgia doesn’t look terrible. They just don’t have that inner knowledge when you can just look at someone. Like when Bridget Sloan goes or when Sam Peszek compete, they have that look on their face like yeah I got this.

EVAN: Right.

JESSICA: And LSU has that. They’ve had it since last year.

EVAN: I think so. They’re bringing the April Burkholder beat box swag back. Uncle Tim, how many April Burkholder mix tapes do you own honestly?

UNCLE TIM: Zero actually.

EVAN: What???

UNCLE TIM: I know. I know. You’ll have to make one for me.

JESSICA: You don’t have the Alazae on like constant replay? I actually really like her song.

EVAN: April Burkholder, I mean you’ve got to give her credit, she turned about. You mention Oklahoma and how can we overlook a 197 the first meet out, what was it, a 197.7. We left out those seven tenths. Those are important. So here’s the thing about Oklahoma in my perspective. I think that they are definitely that talented for a 197.7. I will be absolutely thrilled if they go on the road and they also put up a 197.7 somewhere, consistently. Not saying that they’re not capable of it, but as history has shown, they usually score that well at home and usually don’t on the road. So take it for what you will.

JESSICA: I agree. I mean I watched them at that meet and they are vaulting like amazingly. They are turning up the difficulty. They’re using the Florida strategy, I’m going to call it the Florida strategy, this is the strategy of every team that’s broken through and finally won the first of their school’s NCAA championships which is you have to do more and harder difficulty than everybody else. Because when all things are the same, you have to have that extra something. Minnesota has that extra something in that their execution and their creativity and uniqueness is unparalleled. But they don’t have the extra difficulty that a team like Oklahoma has right now. They have like three double backs off beam. They have multiple series like we were talking about earlier. They’re doing like back handspring back handspring layout. They’re just doing harder stuff than everybody else or they’re on par or higher than the top teams. I feel like even if that score seems really high, which you know they did finish second last year even if their scores went up and down when they left home, they’re definitely adding that extra something that pushes that score above the average.

EVAN: I agree. I shouldn’t be too critical because what they’re doing is really raising the level and the difficulty that they are putting out there is awesome. So I guess it’s more of a hope for me that they continue to do that on the road because I feel, like you said, they’re putting together those intangible parts that just help you attain a new level in sports. So not to rain on the Oklahoma parade because I’m in it, I’m waving a Boomer Sooner flag. And then so I have to make a public apology to Danusia Francis and maybe the whole United Kingdom and the queen of gymnastics Miss Val because when that floor routine started, I was like this is going to be this schticky, cutesy, but I was wrong. I was so wrong because she like blew up Pauley Pavilion to a new level of greatness. I was literally captivated. I loved it. I loved it. I loved the whole routine. And you know, on top of it, her tumbling was really great too. Which you know, I think we’ve seen in a few UCLA routines in the past, they’re throwing in the casual Rudi. But she was doing the 2.5, double pike, and whip through to double tuck which I’m all about. What did you guys think of Danusia? Did you just know it was great from the beginning and I’m just an idiot?

JESSICA: Uncle Tim did you watch?

UNCLE TIM: I did. I would say that in terms of doing a lot of dancing, she doesn’t really do much but I do think that the routine is very entertaining and especially for a crowd full of college boys and the fact that she puts her foot behind her head probably attracts a lot of college boys and gets them really excited so I think that’s good. I mean she pulls of the burlesque very well. She should have starred in Burlesque with Christina Aguilera instead of Cher is my personal opinion. So yeah.

JESSICA: I mean I think the genius of that routine honestly is that regardless, I mean I think it was freaking fantastic and the crowd went nuts. And the thing about it is when you have a routine like that, it’s the kind of thing that creates a major buzz, just like her dismount on beam. People lost their shit when she did that. She was crying afterwards. People were standing up. People were just like what is this? I’ve never seen gymnastics like that before you know.

EVAN: I think it was a collective nationwide face fanning moment. Everyone was like Danusia did it. Oh man. We’re all there with Nush.

JESSICA: Yeah it was pretty magical. There were some boys in like the front row of the side where she puts the foot behind her head. They literally were falling out of their chairs. I don’t know if they were totally drunk or just completely beside themselves. They just could not contain, they were jumping up and down. They were like little kids in a candy store. It was the most exciting thing. And the little kids too. There was a little kid afterwards who was running around saying the fuzzy haired girl, the fuzzy haired girl! I love her!

EVAN: And you knew who he was talking about.

JESSICA: Exactly! Who else would it be? Yeah so, and of course she did her dismount which is now, as far as we know is first in the world to ever do that dismount, longitudinal aerial to a full off the side of the beam laid out.

EVAN: I hope she’s the first. But I’m giving her all the credit. Speak now! Speak now, horizontal aerial do-er of the dismount.

JESSICA: I have to bring one thing up because I was sitting by my friend who is an NCAA and JO judge and she was watching….I just want to say I’m totally biased for UCLA. I’m putting it out there right now. I hope you guys recognize that I appreciate other teams but obviously they’re my hometown team, not my hometown. I don’t live in LA. I can’t stand LA. They’re my nearby


JESSICA: Local, thank you. But anyway, you know if I lived in Oklahoma I would go to all of their meets and I would totally support them too. So I’m sitting there next to her and I’m watching these routines and there’s three people who do a single flip dismount, the dreaded gainer pike or someone from Florida, the gainer layout which was the scariest thing I’ve ever seen. Like my entire section threw themselves sideways. It was really scary. But not because it was actually dangerous but it just looked scarier than the gainer pike does. Anyway, so we’re sitting there watching and she’s like I don’t understand these scores. Why are the scores for the gymnasts who did the single C dismount like this? So she was hypothesizing that they were taking the JO rules. In the JO rules, you can’t do a single C but in NCAA…we actually looked this up. Because I was talking to Uncle Tim about this. I was like can you check this out? I don’t know about this. We looked it up and in the JO rules, you can’t do a single C dismount with nothing else attached to it but someone asked in the most recent newsletter about this for judges. Is that the same for NCAA because NCAA uses the JO or level 10 rules. And the newsletter specifically said no you cannot take a deduction in NCAA for doing a single C dismount. So people can still run over to the end of the beam and just do that hideous gainer pike off the end of the beam. Anyway, so she was hypothesizing and she thinks they were taking that dismount which of course would have changed the final score. And there were a lot of inquiries that were accepted so the judges were catching up I think a lot, this being the first meet of the season. So we’ll see. I’m wondering if that’s going to come up in other meets or if it happened at other meets. Of course we’ll never know for sure if that’s what was really going on. I think it would have changed the final outcome of the meet. But you know, it doesn’t really matter. The meet is over. But this just brings up the point again that Uncle Tim pointed out that if we had iPads and receipts and instant scores online, we would all know the answer to this question.

EVAN: One more thing. Alright so this is kind of my wish for NCAA gymnastics this year, specifically women but it can be just in general is chest position. On floor so often, on so many skills, on vault even, chest position is widely ignored especially at schools that might be doing and what Oklahoma is on a lesser scale, trying to bring on those big scores and create a buzz and generate these things. But chest position. I mean are you guys with me on this?  Like there are so many low chests, lurches that are seemingly erased by this massive flourish of arch back and jumping around salute. I need better chest positions, just in general.

JESSICA: I agree. I feel like that’s one of the things that should be applied from the JO and level 10 code. There’s some things they don’t need to be so strict on but that is definitely something that could differentiate things especially on vault. Hello!

EVAN: Right. And I feel like the judges do, they keep it in the back of their minds essentially until nationals. So what you’re doing is setting a lot of teams up for not failure but at those regional and conference meets, a lot of times, teams seem to be surprised by not getting the scores that they might have been getting at their home meets all season long. And all of a sudden, one of the top programs is landing with improved chest positions and probably less steps as well but just completely dominating. So I would like to see a bigger emphasis on that.


EVAN: Amen. I think that’s it for NCAA. I mean there’s always more so if you guys want us to talk about a routine, feel free to send links, tweet me @yoev, tweet at everyone, tweet @gymcastic, and Uncle Tim what’s your Twitter? I could say Uncle Tim with two m’s, Uncle Tim with two I’s.

UNCLE TIM: It’s @uncletimmensgym. Uncletimmensgym.

EVAN: It’s like a cute little prose when you spell it that way. It’s like oh we’re flowing. Alright so hit us up with NCAA questions because we obviously like to talk about it.

JESSICA: Yes! So much to cover! One more little tiny piece of news. I just want to let you guys know that there is a master’s meet happening. I love my master’s meet. Oh and congratulations to Dr. Mike Canalas who just competed in his 19th alumni meet at Ohio, is it the Ohio State or just Ohio State

UNCLE TIM: The Ohio State

JESSICA: The Ohio State thank you. 19 masters meets basically he’s done and he’s doing really hard stuff. Like did he do a double double or a full in off rings, something ridiculous. And one of those flippy things from your armpits to your armpits on p-bars, whatever that’s called

EVAN: It depends. Marsue, Dimitrenko

JESSICA: One of those. So he’s doing hard stuff. Of course he’s also Mr. Dominique Moceanu so bonus that he gets every day. So  congratulations to him super master’s gymnast. And then the master’s meet that’s coming up is at the Oakville Gymnastics Club. I think they call it the World Master’s Championship. It’s Saturday March 8. And this is one of those really fun meets. It’s in Canada so I think they give out like beer for awards and stuff like that. So check it out if you want to do that!

[Sound Byte]

JESSICA: In gymternet news, if you guys were watching the Golden Globes last night, did you notice who was in the audience? Did you see? Anybody?

EVAN: Bono!

JESSICA: More important than Bono! Hello! Gosh! Bart, Nadia, Nastia, Mary Lou, Jake Dalton, Kayla Nowak, Carly Patterson, all at the Golden Globes!

EVAN: That’s pretty awesome! I mean I texted one of my friends, I was like why are so many gymnasts going to the Golden Globes? Instagram was like I’m a gymnast! I’m in a limo! I’m going to the Golden Globes! I’m wearing a dress! I’m going to the Golden Globes! I’m like what? So I think it was the P&G sponsorship. Correct?

JESSICA: Oh yeah the mom thing? This is fantastic! P&G, if you can get our gymnasts on TV at these Hollywood things, be our sponsor forever please. I’m going to buy your toilet paper, whatever else and think of you every time. And makeup and all the other things. This is so exciting! I just love seeing them there. And they all look super glamourous and fantastic! And they were with that hottie skater with the butt from Seattle


JESSICA: What’s his name?

EVAN: With the butt and the face

JESSICA: What’s his name? He’s really good.

EVAN: Bonnie Blair?

UNCLE TIM: (laughs) She’s female, not a man.

JESSICA: They go really fast

EVAN: Apolo Anton Ohno

JESSICA: Thank you! Thank you! He was there with the gymnasts as he should be because you know, he’s hot enough to sit with the gymnasts and accomplished enough. Okay, so we’ve heard that Mustafina is taking a break from gymnastics. Do we know why? Is this confirmed or is this just a gymternet rumor?

UNCLE TIM: It’s just a rumor.

EVAN: I’m not allowed to do anything in Russia so I don’t know.

JESSICA: They banned you because of your tweets?

EVAN: Right yeah all of the above.

JESSICA: Oh and speaking of that, Pussy Riot is finally out of jail right before the Olympics just so they can I’m sure put everyone back as soon as the Olympics are over. There’s a really great interview on NPR Fresh Air, one of my favorite shows, about the whole Pussy Riot thing and what’s going on. We talked about them last time you were on the show so I just wanted to give everyone an update that Putin is trying to make it look like everything is fine. And then I’m sure as soon as the Olympics are over and no one’s watching, they’ll put everyone back in jail. On a happier note than what’s going on in Russia, Louis Smith has announced that he’s returning to gymnastics! YES! Best thing ever!

[Buzzer goes off]

JESSICA: Oh no that was a bad sound to do. I’m really going to work on my sound effects you guys. I’m going to practice.

UNCLE TIM: That was appropriate. That was a cartoon sound for when your eyes pop out of your head and I do believe that’s what happens to your eyes every time you look at a picture of him so it’s appropriate.

JESSICA: Yay! So he says he has unfinished business which you know, we’ll see. I feel like everybody says that when they come back even though they’ve been….I don’t know. Do you think his thing is like gold in Rio? Do you think that’s what he’s saying?

UNCLE TIM: No, Commonwealth Games is his goal for 2014. They’ll be in Glasgow and yeah he’s hoping to compete.

JESSICA: That’s good. Keep it small. Keep it fun. Keep it local.  I mean they’re in Glasgow, it’s going to be awesome. That’s going to be so fun! I think we should all go!

EVAN: Fine, I’ll do it!

JESSICA: And you can live tweet it too. The Gabby Douglas Story, the movie has an air date. It’s going to be on Lifetime on February 1. So run over to your DVRs and set it right now, February 1 on Lifetime. I’m looking forward to watching that. I’m sure we’ll do an extensive recap. We will need an entire episode just devoted to that. Beth Tweddle is competing on Dancing on Ice again but this time with a new partner. I’m kind of glad about this because I’m sure her other partner was perfectly fine but eh he just didn’t do it for me. He was a little too smiley all the time. And not like in a good way, I don’t know.

UNCLE TIM: And if you’re a figure skater, you should be depressed all the time.

JESSICA: But I mean they were very good together obviously. Shawn Johnson has just launched The Body Department. This is a website where she’s kind of aggregating different stories and videos about like fitness and healthy eating and she wants it to be like a safe healthy place. One of the articles that she put up is an article from Huffington Post I think about the danger of the thigh gap thing which is supposed to be a trend. Like you’re supposed to be hot if you have a gap between your thigh, I don’t know. So I think it’s well intentioned and to provide that safe base for girls to feel good about their bodies and stuff like that. So that’s cool. That’s her new endeavor. Let’ see. Aaron Cook did a standing double back. That’s nuts. You know that guy? He’s the Parkour guy

EVAN: I saw the video of it. I don’t his other work but it was well executed. It wasn’t just like chucking it on the sidewalk even though he probably could.

JESSICA: No he’s the cheerleader tumbling guy. I’m getting him confused with the English guy. He’s amazing. I’m going to have to find out more about him. He does it like a regular back.

UNCLE TIM: Yeah he’s from Michigan right? He’s part of the US tumbling squad, power tumbling squad.

JESSICA: Ooh there we go. Even better.  Yeah okay, I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was thinking he was someone else. Okay. And of course, in dreams do come true news, Leon Purvis, Gabby’s little stalker who was always asking people to the prom, like didn’t he ask Justin Bieber to the prom too?


JESSICA: He has finally met or talked to Gabby Douglas. So kids, just keep trying and someday, your dreams can come true. It’s a very happy ending. That’s very nice of Gabby to do that. I mean that kid was not giving up so you know, she had to at some point. Later this week, we have our interview with the fabulous, he is such a sweetheart you guys. So genuine, very honest, told us exactly what he was thinking, whether it was positive or negative, just very refreshing, loved talking to him. Like seriously I want a poster now of John Orozco on my wall because he’s just the sweetest ever. He is going to be up like Thursday or Friday I’ll have his interview up. So look forward to that later this week. And then next week, we’ll be back with more NCAA discussion.

[Sound Byte]

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Remember to take our survey please. And of course, like Evan said, contact us with your comments, questions, routines that you want us to talk about. We’re at 415-800-3191. Our Skype username is Gymcastic Podcast. You can leave a voicemail. Don’t worry. None of us will answer the phone. Just leave a message. It’ll be fine. It’ll get to us. Our email is You can support the show by shopping in our Amazon store. You can go directly and you can donate and hopefully we will be able to use the proceeds on new equipment like this. So tweet us or Facebook us and tell us what you think of the new sound. Tell us if it’s improved. And you can always support us as well by downloading the Stitcher app. It works on all devices including Android and of course, rate us and review us on iTunes. Remember later this week, we will be back our John Orozco interview. Until then, I’m Jessica from Master’s Gymnastics

UNCLE TIM: I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

EVAN: I’m Evan again from Michigan but also on Twitter.

JESSICA: Thanks for listening! See you guys on Friday with John Orozco!