How the overturning of Roe v. Wade has implications for gymnastics — Other gym news — Thoughts from Trinity Thomas
The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, July 2, 2022
I turned in my Gymnastics Saturday column last Friday at 10:21 a.m. Eleven minutes prior, while I was scanning my words for the last time, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. I saw the headline just after I hit send on my email to my editor saying that my column was in WordPress. I added a quick line so it wouldn’t look like I overlooked the news entirely, and then I cried.
This ruling will impact gymnastics, as it will impact all women’s sports. Will gymnasts want to train or compete in states where they are not guaranteed medical care that could save their lives during a pregnancy? Will gymnasts and coaches want to join or coach a college team in a place that would require them to travel out of state — or across several states — to receive medical care? Will federations and athletic departments help or hinder them as they seek medical care? How easily will people in the gymnastics community be able to access birth control, emergency contraception or fertility treatments — all things likely to be restricted in some states going forward? If LGBTQIA+ rights and the rights of people to marry someone of a different race are next on the chopping block, as has been threatened, that could further narrow the scope of places gymnasts and coaches want to pursue their careers.
You’ll note that I’m using the term “medical care” instead of “abortion” here. That’s not because I’m being shady; it’s because abortion IS medical care, sometimes lifesaving medical care. It is medical care that can change a person’s life and the trajectory of their career.
As of today, USA Gymnastics has not made a statement about the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
We’ve seen many gymnasts, current and retired, speak out. Some did so on their Instagram stories; I chose not to screenshot those because while some are public, some are not, and they are also intended to be impermanent. I don’t want anyone to feel like they are being forced into making a lasting public statement if they didn’t do so from the get-go. Anything I post here is a public statement.
Morgan Hurd, being a total badass aka being Morgan Hurd.
Missy Marlowe called on USAG to pull the U.S. Classic meet from Salt Lake City. Utah’s trigger law banning abortion went into effect shortly after the Supreme Court’s ruling came down last week.
Kathy Johnson Clarke used a gymnastics holiday to stick it to the SCOTUS.
Simone Biles got fresh with originalists.
Donnell Whittenburg, allying it up.
Coaches have been vocal as well.
Randy Lane, the head coach of LIU’s women’s gymnastics team, posted this bold and brave statement.
And Cecile Landi retweeted Lane and said she would assist any of her athletes.
As a person whose entree into the gymnastics community was through reporting more so than fandom and whose fandom grew as a result of exposure to the gymternet, I have long been impressed by the kindness and generosity of the people I have met here. People have spent so much time answering my questions and explaining pieces of the sport to me, both directly and through their own work. I’ve made great friends in the gym community, almost all of them through social media. I’ve been a part of many online communities, and this one is special.
So I wanted to draw your attention to a tweet made by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) after Roe v. Wade was overturned, on June 24.
“Many of our solutions can be found in creating community,” she wrote. “So will your engagement hurt or heal? Build or bring down? There is no neutral choice, so we can at least do our best to make good ones and learn and do better the next day.”
If there’s one thing the gymternet is not, it’s neutral, on anything — from the Oklahoma Santa Claus leotard (IYKYK) to fighting abuse in the sport. Lean in now, when things seem scary and fraught, and find strength in numbers. Yes, you’re just one person, but you’ve chosen to be here, to join this community. Make your engagement count.
Other gym news
UCLA’s new head coach Janelle McDonald named the rest of her coaching staff. BJ Das is the only holdover, now with a paycheck.
In other UCLA news, the school and its crosstown rival, USC, will join the Big Ten conference in the 2024-25 school year. As an East Coaster, I’m eager to see whether this means I’ll get to see them compete closer to me. As a gym fan, I’m a little concerned about watching meets on BTN, so let’s get it together, BTN.
Justin Spring moves from Illinois, where he was head coach of the men’s team, to become an assistant coach for the women’s team at Alabama.
Mikayla Rob, a UNC gymnastics alumna, posted on TikTok about abuse she says she endured from the coaching staff in Chapel Hill.
Sanne Wevers has left the Dutch national team, saying “the behavior of a teammate” created an usafe situation for her. The article names Vera Van Pol, who received a warning from the team’s former technical director in connection to her behavior towards Wevers, as the teammate. (This article is in Dutch; Google Translate will give you the English version.) Wevers said she will continue her gymnastics career. We wish her all the best and hope to see the 2016 Olympic beam champion back in action soon.
Naomi Visser won the AA title at the Dutch national championships.
A victim of abuse at a Texas gym in the 1980s is looking for fellow survivors to bolster her case. Her contact information and the SafeSport hotline information are both located in the article linked.
Suni Lee is an Espy Award nominee.
Northern Irish gymnasts can compete for their home country at the Commonwealth Games, overturning a previous ruling by the FIG.
Lorette Charpy pulls out of the Mediterranean Games with a knee injury.
Five at The IX: Trinity Thomas
Trinity Thomas made a big announcement at the presentation of the Honda Cup this year. She was, of course, a finalist for the award, having won the Honda Award for gymnastics back in May (I was able to interview her via Zoom at the time for Five at the IX). The Honda Cup went to South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston, but We Need to Talk posted this interview with Thomas on Twitter. To say we’re excited for next season would be a massive understatement.
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