On Sports and Politics – Troubling Coach News – Other Gym News – Thoughts from Trinity Thomas
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, May 7, 2022
It’s Been a Week
Morning, gym friends. Not gonna lie, this is a tough week to write about women’s sports, because it’s been a tough week to have a uterus.
One of the things men used to tell women who wanted to play sports was that our uteruses would fall out if we ran too far or jumped too much. That myth started kicking around in the mid-19th century, but has endured well into the twenty-first.
Uterus holders, undeterred, continued to thrive in sport. In gymnastics, just look at Chellsie Memmel, mom of two. Memmel told Shift Movement Science this week that she is stronger in her return to the sport than she was training for the Olympics as a teenager.
Look at Oksana Chusovitina, who is 46. Her son, in his early 20s, is older than many of the gymnasts she competes against, but she and her uterus are still out there winning World Cup gold and training Produnovas.
I was born four years after Title IX passed and three years after Roe v. Wade was decided (and one year after Chusovitina). That law, and that ruling, gave those who identify as women the freedom to pursue sports and the right to make medical decisions about our own bodies without government interference. I grew up – admittedly, as an American white/cis/het woman, with the accompanying privilege that implies – in a climate that supported my achievements and my choices.
But today, Title IX is being used as a weapon against transgender women in sports. This week we found out via a leaked draft of a Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which established the constitutional right for women to make their own reproductive choices, may be overturned.
If you are reading this, you likely have a stake in both women’s sports and women’s right to choose. You might not think a discussion of the latter belongs in the former. I would argue that granting everyone who identifies as women control over their bodies is absolutely critical to women’s continued success in sports. Indeed, women have used sports to prove they know their bodies best, to reach higher and higher heights and also to know when to rest and recharge.
Gymnastics has seen many, many attempts over the years to disenfranchise the women who participate in it, to make athletes feel that their bodies are not their own, to enforce rigid standards about which bodies can perform the sport best and which cannot. Now we’re seeing that level of control manifest itself on a federal level.
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The Coaches Are Not All Right
Suni Lee’s elite coaches at Midwest Gymnastics in Minnesota – Jess Graba and Ali Lim – are the subjects of a SafeSport investigation into their coaching practices, according to Defector.
CW: Forced weigh-ins, training without proper supervision, running laps after one gymnast was hit by a dump truck and killed doing the same. Defector interviewed three gymnasts who trained with Graba and Lim pre-Suni and her Olympic success, as well as other coaches at the gym, and it’s not pretty.
Vincent Wevers, Dutch gymnastics coach and father of Olympians Sanne and Lieke, is acquitted in abuse case. He will serve a 28-month suspension and two years probation.
Eythora Thorosdottir said, in the wake of the Wevers decision, that she should be able to decide for herself if her coaches are safe for her.
Former USU gymnast Morgan Gill tweeted about her experience with Amy Smith, now Clemson’s new head coach.
Chris Waller’s brother stepped in it in this Instagram comments exchange with last week’s interviewee Blake. If you have to Google “racism” to participate in an internet comment exchange about it…don’t.
Blake tweeted his own take on the back-and-forth.
Other Gym News
Morgan Hurd spoke with Time Magazine’s Alice Park as part of Time’s second annual Uplifting AAPI Voices Summit.
Mai Murakami’s taking dance classes post-retirement.
Dominique Moceanu gave birth to a baby girl, Victoria Olympia.
Arkansas coaches Jordyn Wieber and Kyla Ross look back at the 2012 Olympics.
We learned why college gym programs are nonexistent in Texas.
Grace McCallum gave an interview about life after the Olympics, in which she seems very chill and happy at Utah. We love to see it.
Stanford’s assistant coach Alex Pintchouk is no longer at the university.
Tiarre Sales will compete a 5th year at Minnesota.
Leah Clapper will compete a 5th year at Florida.
Natalie Wojcik will compete a 5th year at Michigan while she pursues her MSW.
And Wojcik graduated with a casual triple major.
Five at The IX: Honda Award Winner Trinity Thomas
Trinity Thomas won the Honda Award, the sixth for Florida in 11 years (Kytra Hunter and Bridget Sloan, who each won twice, and Alex McMurtry preceded her). The Honda Award is given annually to the top female college athlete in her sport. I had the opportunity to participate in Thomas’ media availability the day after she found out about the award.
Q: What does it feel like to have such an esteemed place in gymnastics history, and in Florida history?
Trinity Thomas: It feels absolutely amazing, because it feels like I’ve been working forever for this, so obviously this was my senior year and to accomplish all these goals in the tail end of my career is super special, it’s what I’ve worked for four years.
Q: Which of your individual awards means the most to you this year?
Thomas: My all-around national championship. Winning all around is super special for me. And completing the gym slam!
Q: What is your favorite skill, on any apparatus?
Thomas: My favorite skill is the double layout on floor. [Ed. note: Mine too, Trinity. Mine too.]
Q: What was your reaction to winning this prestigious award, and where were you when it happened, when you found out?
Thomas: I was so excited. My coach actually called me. And I just remember sitting in their office freshman year, and we were just having a conversation, like, what are your goals? And I was just running through my goals, and one was to be a Honda Award winner and to be up on that wall with Kytra [Hunter] and Bridget Sloan and Alex McMurtry. So to finally be here in my senior year and to find out that I won the Honda Award is quite the way to end my senior year. So, super special, super excited.
Q: What does your near future look like?
Thomas: My near future looks like traveling a little bit, going on a couple of vacations, and working with some of hte kids all over the country and doing some camps with them. I love working with the kids and seeing how excited they get about gymnastics every day is super special. I’ll be working at FlipFest this summer, Woodward, a little bit all around. And I’m going to Puerto Rico and on a cruise.
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