Gymnastic news #22 - Tokyo or bust

her grace

standing with Mariah
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3,759
I wasn’t personally affected by VKF but reading her sanctimonious quotes after reading how she abused another gymnast made me so angry. I can only imagine what survivors feel when they see their abusers being quoted and celebrated as heroes.
I think Kondos Field positioned herself as a "savior" and sees herself as one. Beckerman didn't see her as one, and how can you not appreciate your savior? So she had to be made an example of.

Frankly, Kondos Field comes across as a boundary-buster in that "positive" article. Touching someone when they don't want to be touched is classic grooming behavior. From the Wieber article:

Miss Val says instantly when she saw Wieber and her mother, she ran up to them to give them kisses and hugs — tying that to her Greek roots and culture — but Wieber wasn’t an overly affectionate person at that time . . .“ I look at her, as I have my arm around her, ‘Jo, you need to get used to this, I already love you like one of my girls,’” Miss Val recalls saying to her at the time.
I can easily see Kondos Field, as a narcissistic covert abuser, aptly described in Harpy's Child.


It is an important story and I'm glad Alyssa spoke up, but....the more stories like this get told, I feel it will dilute the takeaway that physically abusive coaches and criminal behavior by coaches are known and tolerated by parents, administrators and police.
Beckerman's story was on social media, right? It hasn't been picked up by major media and is not distracting from the discussion about criminal behavior. But I think it's good that Beckerman and others who allege "only" emotional abuse, like Hernandez, are speaking up. Gymnastics needs a complete overhaul, not just a few criminals locked away. The fact that Haney was punished sends a strong message that abuse in all its forms is not going to be overlooked anymore.
 

FiveRinger

Well-Known Member
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@Coco I have to say that doing the mean girl sh*t that VKF did while in a position of authority is, at the very least emotionally abusive. If she were someone’s boss, doing the things that she did and getting the team to somewhat participate in that crap, is what is known as creating a hostile work environment. It’s harassment. I liken mean girl sh*t to behaviors that girls/peers do to each other. VKF’s initiation and participation in bullying should not be addressed as mean girl sh*t. JMHO
 

Theatregirl1122

Needs a nap
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22,732
The whole idea that we don’t call it out when it happens to male athletes so we shouldn’t call it out when it happens to female athletes isn’t “feminism.” It’s toxicity. You don’t advocate for equality by throwing everyone into the shit to make it fair. Whatever “wave” that’s supposed to be is broken.

These women are calling out what happened to them as abusive and scaring. The answer isn’t “we let men get abused so we should let women get abused so everyone is equal! Feminism!” That’s like a sad parody of feminism.

The answer is we need to fight both the abuse that is happening to both our male and female athletes and the toxic masculinity that makes it so that men are even less likely to feel safe to speak up about abuse than women, even considering how extremely unsafe women feel speaking up.

And no, gaslighting a barely adult athlete who you are directly responsible for, who has suffered trauma, leveraging your power to turn her teammates against her, intentionally creating a hostile environment, and ultimately revoking her scholarship is not “mean girl shit.” It’s abuse by a person with immense power over an extremely vulnerable person.

What no one needs is people playing the abuse olympics and deciding that only certain kinds of abuse count because other kinds of abuse aren’t “real abuse.”
 

Karina1974

Well-Known Member
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3,142
It's a long time ago now. My mind could be playing tricks. Maybe there was a brief clip in later coverage (the event finals?). But I somehow gleaned that Elise Ray did choose to vault again and improved her AA placem
ent.
Who knows. They might have shown it in late night. I was still living at home at that time and taping the gymnastics at my then-boyfriend's house because his cable was a lot better than my parents' OTA TV reception.
 

aka_gerbil

Rooting for the Underdogs
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2,025
It's a long time ago now. My mind could be playing tricks. Maybe there was a brief clip in later coverage (the event finals?). But I somehow gleaned that Elise Ray did choose to vault again and improved her AA placem
ent.
I also remember the re-vault being shown. Maybe it was outside of main event coverage when they were recapping at a later time?
 

Aceon6

Isolating from mean people
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20,684
There is a difference between 1) a coach cruelly ostracizing a member of her team and 2) a coach forcibly dragging someone into a bathroom to cut their hair
IMO, you’re correct that there’s a difference as #1 is MUCH more likely to have serious, lasting effects that impact the person later in life.
 

Erin

Well-Known Member
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9,794
I also remember the re-vault being shown. Maybe it was outside of main event coverage when they were recapping at a later time?
It’s funny because I remembered it too, but when I watched my NBC coverage a little while ago, it wasn’t on there. But you’re right, it could have been from a later recap.
 

dramagrrl

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1,856
It offends my ?? wave feminist self if female athletes are seen as delicate or more deserving of protection. No athlete should have to deal with this emotional abuse. Frankly, it is amazing it persists at the professional level because adults don't thrive under this type of coaching. But it does persist.
Female athletes aren't "delicate" or more deserving of protection, but one big difference with female athletes vs. male athletes who are subject to emotional abuse from coaches is that more often than not, the male athletes are fully grown adults, whereas the female athletes are much younger, and in the case of sports like figure skating and gymnastics (and even other sports like swimming and tennis), many of them have not even reached the age of legal adulthood. There are very few sports where male athletes would be competing at international elite level while being under the age of 18, whereas the vast majority of female gymnasts and figure skaters (at least in recent years) spend most of their elite careers under the age of 18.
 

Coco

Rotating while Russian!
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15,393
@Coco I have to say that doing the mean girl sh*t that VKF did while in a position of authority is, at the very least emotionally abusive. If she were someone’s boss, doing the things that she did and getting the team to somewhat participate in that crap, is what is known as creating a hostile work environment. It’s harassment. I liken mean girl sh*t to behaviors that girls/peers do to each other. VKF’s initiation and participation in bullying should not be addressed as mean girl sh*t. JMHO
You're right. The "mean girl" phrase has been used by me and by others elsewhere because part of what Alyssa stated is that VKF either directed or manipulated Alyssa's teammates to take actions against her. So beyond whatever she, VKF, was doing and saying, she was stirring the pot to create a mean girl atmosphere that she could then wield against whoever she wanted to wield it against.

@dramagrrl , I'm not sure what you are saying. I've officiated girls' youth and college sports for 20 years, which sometimes puts me in proximity of boys' youth sports. The abusive methods start early :( They are not reserved for high performance levels.

It is so widespread that I do think it is necessary to distinguish between methods in Alyssa's statement and physical threats/harm that have been depicted in other storys. Because we aren't going to change all of this over night. We've got to chip away. Then again, we are just posting on a message board, not taking any real action, so maybe my distinctions are pointless.

Here is Alyssa's statement:

 

Choupette

Well-Known Member
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2,010
It is so widespread that I do think it is necessary to distinguish between methods in Alyssa's statement and physical threats/harm that have been depicted in other storys. Because we aren't going to change all of this over night. We've got to chip away. Then again, we are just posting on a message board, not taking any real action, so maybe my distinctions are pointless.
It is the culture, the whole mindset that needs to change. You don't half change it. Either respect of the individual is valued or it isn't.

I believe the public in general accepted this crap too easily. There should have been indignation at the control Marta held over the girls, even only as outlined in TV broadcasts. Social media and forums can play a role there.
 

sonsofanarchy

Banned Member
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112
Watching broadcasting over the years is even disturbing in hindsight. Commentators praising athletes who perform with injury and even encouraging it saying "it is what Marta and Bela would want, be tough", and shaming those who won't. Gushing on what a "legend" Marta is constantly.
 

VGThuy

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32,704
I'm discovering more gymnasts of yesteryear, and my goodness, Brandy Johnson had to be the coolest American gymnast ever. She somehow makes this ridiculous leotard work:


She gave a similar performance at 1989 Worlds AA but had some composition issue with a half-turn split jump not making it all the way thus resulting in her losing one-tenth in start value. As a result, she received a 9.825 instead of a 9.925. Probably explains why she made all those leaps that are her namesake in the code in 1990 (or did she make them before?). Also, showing my stupidity, but I used to study the code a bit and thought the leaps named Johnson were named after Shawn instead of Brandy despite me obviously seeing those leaps predating Shawn Johnson.

She's like a precursor to Kim Zmeskal mixed with Nicole Bobek sass and Tonya Harding toughness, and she didn't cowboy those double tucks as was of the era (even the Soviets did it so the judges let everyone (in the top countries) do it). Shame she couldn't make a comeback in 1992 because I think an on-point Johnson would have been another strong AAer to push that American team over-the-top with Okino relegated to 4th-strongest AAer instead of 3rd-strongest, and since she was not a Karyoli gymnast, she may not have run the risk of being overtrained like the Karyoli gymnasts that year (Zmeskal, Okino, and Strug looked so tired and beaten up by Barcelona). She would have offered some scores that could have helped by replacing Wendy Bruce (though Bruce's 9.950 on vault in team optionals was nice).

Also, Michelle Campi was a seriously beautiful classical gymnast. Made me surprised she was not only an American gymnast during that time but also a Poszar one.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEJNMbIPJd0

Bad quality from 1991 Worlds but best I could find.
 
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Rob

Beach Bum
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14,835
I think of "mean-girling" to be bullying, peer abuse. An adult in a place of responsibility, a teacher doing it - just plain old abuse.
 

Rob

Beach Bum
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14,835
Also, Michelle Campi was a seriously beautiful classical gymnast. Made me surprised she was not only an American gymnast during that time but also a Poszar one.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEJNMbIPJd0

Bad quality from 1991 Worlds but best I could find.
Yes I was so sorry she didn't make an Olympic team. I think she got very thin in 1992, seemed to lose a bit of power plus the injury. Then, this sounds creepy, I wasn't aware of this:
 

VGThuy

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32,704
Yes I was so sorry she didn't make an Olympic team. I think she got very thin in 1992, seemed to lose a bit of power plus the injury. Then, this sounds creepy, I wasn't aware of this:
Her coach sounds like he had some control issues (but it also sounds like many coaches). I don't get any coach who refuses to recompose a routine that is much more comfortable for a gymnast that could be just as competitive. It's not like a hop full was one of those must-have elements by Atlanta. That was just nothing more than a display of control by the coach. The story of the back breaking was tragic to read. I won't even touch the romantic relationship between Newman and Campi's mother other than now I know where Stick It! got one of its plot point from.
 
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dramagrrl

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1,856
I won't even touch the romantic relationship between Newman and Campi's mother other than now I know where Stick It! got one of its plot point from.
I think there was a similar mother/coach storyline in the amazing(ly awful :lol: ) gymnastics TV series Make It or Break It.
 

Rob

Beach Bum
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14,835
So cool! I attended my company’s Women’s Leadership Forum by Zoom and our guest leadership speaker was Dominique Dawes! She was amazing. She spoke about checking your ego at the door, understanding the team goal is more important, every contribution is important. Choosing to be positive and giving real positive feedback. She was so real and honest. Very quick to answer questions but not in a rehearsed way. She didn’t speak about abuse, the opposite, she spoke about being a champion of others. She said she’s not coaching at her new gym because she’s stuck in elite mindset, she’s being the cheerleader and life coach at the gym. She’s got 1000 students already!
 

mjb52

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3,106
I love her. I so wanted her to win the AA title the Worlds that a bunch of gymnasts, including her, had issues on the floor. It's been a long time so I don't remember the specifics!

eta: Ah, it was the Olympics!
 

bardtoob

Clichy Competitive Audition Protocol Auditor
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13,847
Bridget Sloan explains how she felt learning moments before the 2008 Olympic qualifying round that every score she puts up would count due to Sam Peszek's injury.

NBC notices there are only 4 gymnasts competing in floor qualifications and do not know why. Bridget does her catchy floor routine with an out of bound error, but Marta praises her.

Bridget does vault. Marta is happy.

Bridge does UB with some extra swings. Marta says "we are fine" but asks what happened. She is not nearly as cold as you would expect.

Bridget does beam with decent execution and a stuck landing. Marta gives her a big hug and says "you can do it".

Post-qualifications team huddle.

Bridget does her team final vault, and Marta gives her a big hug and says "You did your job!"

-------------------------------------

Bridget Sloan does her AA Vault at the 2009 World Championships: Solid

Bridget Sloan does her AA UB at the 2009 World Championships: Solid

Bridget Sloan does her AA BB at the 2009 World Championships: Tentative but no major errors

Bridget Sloan does her AA FX at the 2009 World Championships: Her major tumbling elements have remarkable suspension in the air.

Bridget waits for Rebecca Bross's score after her disastrous AA FX and learns she is World AA Champion.

------------------------------------


 
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FiveRinger

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I love her. I so wanted her to win the AA title the Worlds that a bunch of gymnasts, including her, had issues on the floor. It's been a long time so I don't remember the specifics!

eta: Ah, it was the Olympics!
She was a hair's breath away from winning the AA title at World's twice. I think it was 93 and 94. I cried for her. Kelli Hill's response the first time was wonderful. I'm paraphrasing, but she said, "Did you ever think that you would get this close? Don't cry. You did great....." I think she encouraged her to wave to the crowd. It makes me have some hope for Kelli, because that would have been an opportunity to be a mean and nasty coach. Kelli appeared to be great both times Dom came up short. I'm sad for them.
 

VGThuy

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32,704
It's kind sad what happened to Kelli Hill, with her defending the status quo and all. She seemed to always churn out not only gymnasts who made World/Olympic team members and even medalists on a consistent basis, but all of her gymnasts seemed to leave elite relatively healthy and happy. Dominque was praising her for a long time until recently. Dawes also seems to have confronted her past once her daughters started gymnastics and it probably made her question a lot of things regarding her upbringing. That on top of Hill's involvement with USAG and her lack of adequate response to the abuse stories coming out all probably played a role in Dawes/Hill's relationship fracturing.
 

Theatregirl1122

Needs a nap
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22,732
Well I'm sure they coordinated their availability for the article. Those two are pretty tight.
It looks to me like the authors chose to get quotes from Miss Val and from Jordyn. Journalists do that all the time, and if they’d coordinated their availability, I think Jordyn would have mentioned Miss Val. Jordyn’s interview makes it clear that she doesn’t view Miss Val as a part of the story, because she’s not.
 

FiveRinger

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It looks to me like the authors chose to get quotes from Miss Val and from Jordyn. Journalists do that all the time, and if they’d coordinated their availability, I think Jordyn would have mentioned Miss Val. Jordyn’s interview makes it clear that she doesn’t view Miss Val as a part of the story, because she’s not.
I didn't mention this when I posted the article, but I'll say it now. It didn't cross my mind at that point. VKF is a liar, if the quotes are correct. In the article, the author specifically states the VKF was upset for Jordyn after she failed to qualify for the AA in London. The author states that VKF made the trip across the pond to watch her future athlete, implying she was there to support Jordyn. VKF herself says that she was "enraged" when Geddert deserted Jordyn in her hour of need Her "momma bear came out" and she wasn't even a member of her UCLA team yet.

Jordyn went pro in October 2011, almost a year before the Olympics, shortly after she became the AA champion at Worlds. There was no way she was ever going to compete for UCLA because she gave up her eligibility. If she went to London to see a future athlete, it wasn't Jordyn. It was Kyla Ross. The rest of the team had already gone pro, if memory serves.

If she was truly sorry and repentant and going to be an advocate for change, the least she can do is be honest about things that there isn't a need to lie about and especially about things that are easily verifiable. But that doesn't play well enough into her narrative.

Catching VKF in a lie makes Alyssa more credible. 🤷🏿‍♀️
 

bardtoob

Clichy Competitive Audition Protocol Auditor
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13,847
Bridget says she got her first college recruiting letter at 10 and college coaches start recruiting female gymnasts at the Junior Olympic Level, then says stuff like coaches should not be recruiting 12 year olds and 14 year olds should be focusing on math test, not which college they want to go to. She also says college scholarships are filled long before the end of high school.


I need to find a reference, but I think VKF actually signed Biles although she knew Biles would probably go professional.
 
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Aceon6

Isolating from mean people
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20,684
Bridget says university coaches start recruiting female gymnasts at the Junior Olympic Level, then says stuff like coaches should not be recruiting 12 year olds and 14 year olds should be focusing on math test, not which college they want to go to. She also says college scholarships are filled before the end of high school.
That’s not much different than golf, swimming or track. If a kid isn’t exceptional by 8th grade, they won’t get much notice unless there’s someone else on their high school team who is attracting coach visits. The size sport kids, like football, wrestling and basketball get recruited later.
 

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