Jen~I wanted to take a minute, after just finishing your book, to tell you how inspirational it is to me and, I am sure, so many others. I hope times have changed and that coaches today are more careful with their approaches in instruction and health. As i cheer on all athletes in th games, I notice that some (Shawn Johnson...who looks very healthy) seem happy as can be while othersdon't have the spark in their eyes. I feel victim to eating disorders as my dancing career evolved. It is something I still deal with on a daily basis. Now 30, I will be married soon and hope to have the gorgeous family that you have accomplished. Thank you for giving me something to strive for..health and firstname.lastname@example.org
I just finished your book and it's one of the best books I've read in a long, long time. Hard to read, but so good. You have an amazing way of drawing people inside your experience.
Jennifer,Your book brought back a lot of memories good, bad, and confusing. I experienced very similar things and knew exactly what you were talking about. The one thing that I saw happening more frequently than not and which you did briefly mention, was the sexual inpropriety or molestation that often occurred or occurs with young gymnasts. But as with eating disorders at the time (80's)these seemed to be often overlooked, misunderstood, and/or underreported. I was a victim though at the time I didn't think I was necessarily. But honestly the repercussions for telling would have been too great. The one thing I loved most would have been surely taken away, that one thing I loved most being...gymnastics, training, and flying as you described. If I would not miss practice to go to family gatherings, birthday parties, and other fun activities that young children, preteens, and teens typically prefer, do you think that I would risk losing that altogether by exposing something of that magnitude especially when that coach showered you with attention, extra training, praise, gifts, and helped my mom out by picking taking me to and from practices, meets, camps? I see in retrospect how certain coaches "groomed" and identified their prospects in the typical fashion that is now more well described. But essentially these coaches had easy access, were blindly trusted by parents, and needed by their serious gymnasts. The alternative to tell and risk not being able to do what you loved was just not an option. At my own gym, I knew of at least 5 girls including myself that this happened to. As I grew, got older and "fatter" I lost not only skills, confidence, but also the warped attention of a perverted coach which only intensified the need of a growing woman to want to remain childlike. It was really a very destructive childhood. But interestingly, no one ever said anything. Though I knew other parents, gymnasts, and coaches knew and sometimes even joked about it. The horrible thing is that I know this coach is probably still coaching, in fact he even coached for awhile at SCATS and with that Mr. Peters who you alleged had inappropriate or suspicious behavior with your friend Doe Y. Why didn't she tell and what did her parents or anyone do in that situation? In the end training and gymnastics gave me some positive character traits but at a huge expense of shame.D2
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