1. UIC head coach Charley Nelson announced on Friday that the university has decided to cut both the women’s and the men’s gymnastics programmes. This is devastating news for the whole gymnastics community. If you wish to support the team and help them reverse the decision, here is Ms Nelson’s statement, which includes ways in which you can help: ‘The UIC Gymnastics Team and coaching staff were informed this morning that 2018-2019 would be our final season. We now have two goals: continue to train like champions and have this decision reversed. If you would like to voice your concerns to the UIC administration here is that information: The UIC Athletic Director’s name is Garrett Klassy. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org. His office number is: 312-996-2695. You can also contact the UIC Chancellor, Michael Amiridis. His e-mail is email@example.com and his office number is 312-413-3350. I would also ask that you contact your mainstream and alternative news media so that this unfortunate decision is shared beyond the gymnastics community. Thanks, Charley Nelson’.
2. Former Michigan State head coach Kathie Klages, who retired in 2017, was charged with lying to the police as part of the Larry Nassar investigation. Klages lied to a peace officer about not having been told of Nassar’s sexual abuses prior to 2016, while instead witnesses said that they reported Nassar’s sexual abuse to Klages over twenty years ago. Gymnast Larissa Boyce said that she reported the abuse to Klages in 1997, when she was a member of the MSU youth gymnastics programme. ‘Instead of being protected, I was humiliated’, Boyce told CNN. ‘I was in trouble and brainwashed into believing that I was the problem. … This could have stopped in 1997. But instead of notifying authorities or even my parents, we were interrogated. We were led to believe we were misunderstanding a medical technique.’ At the time, Klages told Boyce that she could not imagine Nassar ‘doing anything questionable’, and dissuaded the latter from filing an official complaint. ‘I was not protected by the adults I trusted’, Boyce concluded. Nineteen years later, in 2016, Lindsey Lemke, a current MSU gymnast, and one of the survivors who read her own testimony at the Nassar hearing last January, also reported the abuse to Klages, and again the latter told her that the disgraced doctor’s procedures were legitimate, and encouraged her to sign a ‘sympathy card’ in favour of Nassar. Lemke said: ‘It is such a relief to finally see the truth come out about Klages. When I first exposed her failure to protect her athletes from Nassar, I received enormous criticism and personal attacks from her supporters at MSU. This is why victims of sexual abuse suffer in silence, because people in power bully them and enable predators.’ Klages was charged with both felony and misdemeanour, and is expected to turn herself in.
3. In happier news for Michigan State, junior transfer Shannon St. Jean keeps looking impressive, and is now training a double layout off bars. She will hope to make the lineup next season. Another transfer, Skyler Sheppard, who is now a senior at Auburn, showed off on Instagram a very difficult beam mount – round-off to layout step-out. She will hope to make the beam lineup, after only two appearances on floor last season. UCLA sophomore Anna Glenn, in the meantime, keeps looking beautiful on bars. A new video shows her training a Jaeger and a gorgeous Pak salto.
4. Freshmen also keep looking impressive across the country. UCLA’s Norah Flatley is training a triple twist on floor. Teammate Sekai Wright is training a gorgeous Rudi to layout step-out also on floor. Temple’s Lorianna Leynes is training a Tkatchev on bars, and a layout step out to back pike somersault on beam. Kent State’s Riley Danielson is training a beautifully straight double layout off bars. Ball State‘s Sandra Elsadek is training a beautiful full-twisting double back on floor, while teammate Marissa Nychyk is training a triple series on beam: a free-walkover to back-handspring step-out to layout step-out.
5. LSU senior McKenna Kelley is finally back tumbling after tearing her Achilles last year. She posted a video of herself on Instagram training a full-twisting double back on floor, the very skill on which she injured herself last year. McKenna added a long, inspiring message to the video. She wrote: ‘A full twisting double back: the skill that took my competitive junior season from me, to only give me back a refueled passion and purpose, and a complete new perspective on life and reminder of who my God is. 9 1/2 months later and I find myself doing this skill again. Free of fear, free of expectation. Free to flip bc that’s what I forgot I fell in love with from the beginning. With the help of my teammates, my trainer, my coaches, my GOD, and tiger nation, I find myself in love with the process all over again. I promised you, tiger nation, 9 1/2 months ago that I would be back as a better person, student and athlete, and in just that order. I firmly and confidently stand (w a repaired and INDESTRUCTIBLE Achilles😉) to say that I am back; better, stronger and faster than ever. Ready for you senior season, let’s do this. Geaux Tigers & Forever LSU!’
6. A video appeared on Twitter showing bits of the new floor choreography of Georgia junior Sabrina Vega. It is sassy, energetic and magnetic (and Sabrina LOOKS AT YOU just before her tumbling pass). Apparently all of Georgia’s floor routines this year were choreographed by Stacey and Stella Umeh, so I cannot wait to see more!
7. Coaching news. Carolina named Emma Sibson as assistant coach. She was a student-athlete at Penn State (2014-17) and a volunteer assistant coach at North Carolina State for one season last year. Prior to college, she trained at WOGA and Zenith Elite, and qualified to the 2010 Visa Championships, as well as to the 2011 and 2012 Canadian Championships. Sibson, who graduated in 2017 with a degree in Communications Arts and Science, is expected to be the primary beam coach at UNC, as well as to help choreograph the gymnasts’ floor routines. Towson named Mary Fredericks as new assistant coach. Fredericks was an alternate to the 1996 U.S. Olympic team and a member of the 1995 World Championships team. Prior to Towson, she was assistant coach at Southeast Missouri (2011-12), head coach at Airtime Training Center in Springville, Utah (2014-17) and volunteer coach with the BYU Cougars at Provo, Utah. Eastern Michigan hired Christian Minnicks as assistant coach. Minnicks served many roles with USA Gymnastics, including acting as a USA Gymnastics University Certified Instructor, the Women’s National Team Center Clinician, a Junior Olympic National Team Coach/Clinician, a J.O. Development/Team Coach and Meet Director for Acro Gymnastics, and a Region 3 Speaker. Prior to gymnastics, Minnicks was three times National Dance champion (1995, 2001 and 2003) and the 2001 World Dance champion. From 1998 to 2000, she was a backup dancer for Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, and worked for Disney World for over twenty years as a professional choreographer and acrobat. George Washington welcomed back former standout Chelsea Raineri (2014-17) as assistant coach. After graduating, Raineri worked as a coach at Sylvia’s and in Marketing Events at Office Practicum. West Virginia also welcomed back a former athlete (2011-13) and staff member Kaylyn Millick as assistant coach. After graduating in 2013, Millick was the Mountaineers’ assistant from 2015 to 2017. Illinois hired Kaitlyn Betts as volunteer assistant coach. Betts was a gymnast at Utah State from 2011 to 2015, and spent the two subsequent years there in a team manager role. Last year, she was volunteer assistant coach at Michigan. Temple hired Rachel Inniss as assistant coach. Inniss graduated from Auburn in 2012, and spent the four subsequent years working as a professional dancer at Disney World. She came back to her alma mater in 2016 to work as a volunteer assistant coach for two seasons.
8. Stanford senior Taryn Fitzgerald, who studies product design, is a very talented painter. All the decorations in her dorm room are her own – including this stunning portrait of Frida Kahlo.
9. There were plenty of weddings this past week. Southern Utah junior Becky Rozsa married her fiancé James, and has changed her surname to Thompson. Illinois redshirt senior Mary Jane Horth got married to fiancé Ryan Otto, and her new name is Mary Jane Otto. She wrote on Instagram: ‘Forever & always… my HUSBAND❤️ #MJRYBELIEVE‘. And Michigan State alumna and associate head coach Nicole Curler married her fiancé, and now goes by the name of Nicole Curler Jones. She wrote on Instagram: ‘Yesterday was an absolute dream❤️ #81818 #JonesTheTwoOfUs.’ Congratulations to all the newly weds!
10. Here are the commits of the week: Emma Wehry to Ohio State (2023), Joselyn Warga to Ohio State (2021), Lauren Bannister to BGSU (2021), Nichole Smith to Temple (2020), Alyssa Worthington to New Hampshire (2020), Cassi Barbanente to Arizona State (2021), Olivia Greaves to Florida (2023), Caroline Herry to Arizona (2021), Erika Penamante to Iowa (2022) and Faith Torrez to Oklahoma (2023). Hannah Joyner switched her commitment from Temple to Rutgers (2020).
Routine of the week
UIC’s Miki Northern on floor at the 2017 MIC Championships, where she tied her career-best 9.900. #saveUICgym