Updated: Sep 4, 2018
A couple days ago, we received news that University of Illinois at Chicago will be dropping their gymnastics program(s) after this season.
(Pause for appropriate emotional reaction of your choice!)
In addition, two articles were recently released (New York Times and Stick it Media) on the subject of the future of men’s gymnastics. So, I decided to weigh in on the subject.
Regardless of the rhetoric (bleak vs. optimistic) we NEED TO MOVE FORWARD, period. And, GymACT is working hard on a couple of fronts:
Fighting to maintain NCAA programs and all that is RIGHT with that institution.
Nurturing newly formed college gymnastics programs not (necessarily) associated with a specific college or university.
Helping programs that lost support from their NCAA Div 1 athletic departments.
While we honor the many benefits of Div 1 gymnastics as a platform that encourages young athletes and serves as a springboard (pardon the pun) to developing our Olympic hopefuls, the news of UIC is (yet another) huge blow to the system.
Yes, we must support NCAA programs still fighting for their survival. That needs to be the number one priority: KEEP the good stuff around. One way to help: healthy competitive environment. Unanimously, GymACT coaches vouch to continue pushing the competitive edge and strive to not only match, rather to raise the level of gymnastics currently performed at/by NCAA teams. This positive competitive environment encourages ALL college programs in their pursuit of higher level gymnastics. This, by the way, leads to improvement in the quality of USA gymnastics at every level; up to and including the Senior National Team.
Secondly, we need invest time and energy helping build college teams not bound to (or restricted by) a single school or athletic program. Led by “veterans” ASU and Washington, GymACT (Gymnastics Association of College Teams) now has 6 teams involved. Unified teams (New York Alliance, Southern California United, Northern California United) are in their infancy and showing amazing success both in quantity and quality of gymnasts across the board. We are also providing a safety net (read "ResiPit" to stick to the gymnastics metaphor) to help newly “disowned” programs not only land their feet, but hit the ground running! Temple Gymnastics, who received the financial axe not long ago from their institution, is one of the founding members of GymACT.
We're training hard. We're spreading the word. We're helping one another. We strive to strengthen existing teams, nurture new programs and continue to grow all over the country, recognizing that a broader systematic approach may just be the “gunshot” solution to rid gymnastics of the myopic exposure we currently endure.
Let’s broaden the geography locations of the training centers and support to a wider demographic of student-athletes.