MESSAGE FROM OUR CHAIRMAN, Tony Retrosi
As a gym owner and industry leader, I have had numerous contacts from many of you expressing your frustration with USA Gymnastics. We are all more than a little shocked by recent revelations. It seems like each day another piece of bad news drops.
By no means am I a USA Gymnastics apologist or defender. I am just as frustrated and angry. I want to find solutions—to be the voice of fellow coaches within the industry. Attending the USA Gymnastics advisory board meetings gives me no additional information. I am just urging you to not get caught up in the social media storm. Don’t stir the pot without suggesting any real viable solutions. This is irresponsible and adds fuel to the already intense fire.
USA Gymnastics has a long way to go to fix some of these issues. They have started but it will be a long process. The biggest comment I am hearing is—Is it time for the National Team Training Center at Karolyi’s Ranch to close? Yes! It is tough to think what has happened there and that some of our athletes have to return for training camps. The information I can share is USAG is working on a plan for the new training center. In August they had 5 parties interested in working with USAG to build a new training center. It is unfortunate this process takes time to close up shop and move to a world class facility capable of housing the all disciplines, both athletes and coaches and still provide all the necessary safety measures. No location place that meets those needs immediately has been mentioned, Some have mentioned the USOTC in Colorado Springs as an alternative—good idea but it can barely handle the training schedule required for the men. I am an East Coast guy. I do not know any camps out West. I know that the bigger camps in the East COULD handle the necessary arrangements almost immediately. This would be a TEMPORARY fix until USAG settles on a permanent facility.
Some coaches who attend numerous camps at The Ranch do not like the idea of being anywhere else—and some hate every minute that they must be there. As frustrating as this is, I want to believe USA Gymnastics will find a suitable location with no past history.
The USA needs a world class training facility where coaches and gymnasts can learn and train with minimal distractions—a National Team Training Center where our National Teams in all disciplines can train on a regular basis and where we can develop the talent of our up and coming coaches as well.
We need USA Gymnastics University to be both a brick-and-mortar University (at the National Team Training Center) and an online source as well. We need the best and brightest to be teaching at national, regional and state congresses and conferences. I personally would like a university where gymnastics professionals can go and learn from the best and one to where the best can go and share their ideas and drills with each other.
This university and training center must be a safe place for all participants.
The funding involved in doing this would be astronomical, however, we MUST move forward at all costs and anything worthwhile starts with a dream.
It has been a while since I was able to say I was proud to be a member of USA Gymnastics.They have lost the confidence of some and many will need to search for a reason to be proud of the organization once again.
Please remember many staff in the office at USAG work long and hard hours keeping gymnastics running in the USA. They are not the faces in the news, they are not the “hard decisions” makers. They are people entering sanction information and USAG numbers—the people scheduling educational courses and workshops. The program decisions are made by the hundreds of volunteers, the State and Regional Chairmen who give their time to our industry. It has been a while since we have been REALLY proud of our governing body but we show up to our gyms each day and do our jobs. For many of the people in the USAG office, it is the same.
There are no easy answers or decisions—real change will take time. Otherwise we become the pendulum that just swings back and forth.
The USECA started by making a difference in the late 1970’s with our elite gymnastics women’s program. We served as a guiding force for what was best for our international and national athletes and coaches—we were an organization set up by coaches. While some have now gone on to the ownership ranks or even retired, we must remain diligent and strong in our belief in our athletes.
As an organization, we are calling on USA Gymnastics to permanently close the Ranch to athletes and coaches representing our sport in all disciplines. We also implore USA Gymnastics to secure immediately, facilities that will allow our athletes, of all disciplines, to continue to train in a safe environment. We owe this to our USA athletes and our children.
In closing, I would like to start a dialog here on social media for all to read, give your input, your concerns and your solutions. Thank you!
Tony Retrosi, Chairman
US Elite Coaches Association