Updated: Aug 2, 2018
“I didn’t even know there was still college gymnastics for boys!” exclaimed the surprised parent. We were between sessions at 2018 Region 1 Championships and that was the most heart wrenching statement I heard there. I remember taking a deep breath and thinking “that’s why we set up this table. We have a long way ahead of us.” I proceeded to enthusiastically tell him (and everyone around) there certainly ARE options for a gymnast to continue his competitive career after high school graduation, beyond the J.O. program.
Truth: In spite of the extraordinary efforts from coaching staff and countless supporters, NCAA Men’s Gymnastics numbers have declined dramatically over the years. To put it into perspective, there WERE 200+ NCAA gymnastics varsity programs in “the Heyday” (1970’s) and now there are 16 of them. SIXTEEN! And the schools whose athletic departments have not dropped their programs altogether, have but a few available scholarships to offer each year.
Yes, this paints a bleak picture for the future of men’s collegiate gymnastics (at the Division I, NCAA level). But, I, for one, cannot/will not just sit idle and watch it dwindle to extinction.
“As it turns out, there IS still college gymnastics and there are PLENTY of incredibly devoted people keeping it alive.” I answered the family standing in front of the NorCal United table while next to me, coaches and athletes from Arizona State, University of Washington and Southern California United all bobbed their heads in agreement. We were all there distributing literature showing that, in fact, we are reversing the trend. New teams are being created all across the country (at the rate of ONE per year in the last 4 years) and numbers of college gymnasts are increasing in just about every team’s rosters. YEAH!!!
This (new) wave of enthusiasm, positive growth and participation led to the creation of Gymnastics Association of College Teams. The dream is to PROMOTE high level competitive college gymnastics and bring the sport back to what it once was. Let’s bring back the crowds of both athletes AND spectators to the collegiate gymnastics arenas.
RECRUITING: that was a main point of discussion in this month’s conference call. GymACT is working hard to promote the already existing programs varsity or not.
We are constantly reaching out, engaging with coaches, educating athletes and their families. Our social media presence is growing and our website is a great portal of information and discussion. We are putting ourselves out there as often as possible (at meets, gyms, summer camps and clinics), building awareness and enthusiasm.
We want every kid (even the level 4s) to grow up KNOWING the future is CERTAIN.
Look at the awesome gymnastics these college guys are doing. “I wanna do that too!”
Fabricio (Breeze) Olsson coaches boys level 4-10 in Santa Cruz (Ohana Gymnastics) and Monterey (Rising Star Gymnastics). He is the Santa Cruz area NorCal United coach, currently working with UCSC sophomores Will Ryan and Robbie Tambunting. His encourages all his boys to work hard at having fun with gymnastics.