USA Gymnastics is the sole national governing body for the sport of gymnastics in the United States. This designation comes from the U.S. Olympic Committee, and the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG). USA Gymnastics sets the rules and policies that govern gymnastics in the United States. USA Gymnastics has many responsibilities, including selecting and training the U.S. Gymnastics Teams for Olympic Games and World Championships; promoting and developing gymnastics on a grassroots and national level; and serving as a resource center for member clubs, fans and gymnasts throughout the United States. The organization has programs in men’s and women’s artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling and acrobatic gymnastics.
The 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization was established in Tucson, Ariz., in 1963. The first Board of Directors began the time-consuming task of creating a viable national program for gymnastics in the United States. During the mid-1960s the United States had scarcely 7,000 athletes competing a limited schedule. The only major international events for gymnasts were the Olympic Games and the Pan American Games. Due to the hard work of U.S. gymnastics pioneers, such as Frank Bare, George Gulack, Dean McCoy, Gene Wettstone and Arthur Gander, the U.S. Gymnastics Federation, now doing business as USA Gymnastics, gained membership into the FIG in 1970, opening the door to numerous opportunities for U.S. gymnasts. In the last 30-plus years, the sport has grown by leaps and bounds. Most recently, USA Gymnastics welcomed acrobatic gymnastics as its newest discipline in 2002.
Today, more than 110,000 athletes and professionals are members of USA Gymnastics. USA Gymnastics has more than 90,000 athletes registered in competitive programs, as well as more than 20,000 professional, instructor and club members. Throughout the year, USA Gymnastics provides educational opportunities for coaches and judges, as well as gym club owners and administrators, through regional Congresses, the National Congress and Trade Show and USA Gymnastics University. Approximately 3,500 competitions and events throughout the USA are sanctioned annually. USA Gymnastics is headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., and has expanded very quickly in its 30-plus years. The original staff of three has now grown to more than 40 employees, handling member services, competition programs, marketing, communications, events, finance and administration.
USA Gymnastics logo and organizational slogan – “Begin Here. Go Anywhere.” – were adopted in June 2003.
Constituents of USA Gymnastics
In November 2007, USA Gymnastics streamlined its governance structure from a 48-person Board of Directors with a smaller Executive Committee to a 20-person Board of Directors. The 20-person Board provides long-term strategic planning and consists of: two representatives from both the men’s and women’s programs; one each from rhythmic gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline/tumbling; three representatives from the newly created Advisory Council; five athletes (one per discipline); four public sector members; and the chairman of the board.
1984 Olympic gold-medalist Peter Vidmar of Coto De Caza, Calif., was elected chairman of USA Gymnastics Board of Directors in December 2008. The other officers of the Board are: Paul Parilla of Lake Forest, Calif., vice chairman (non-voting position); Gary Anderson of Hillsboro Beach, Fla., secretary (non-voting position); and Jim Morris of Indianapolis, treasurer. Ron Froehlich of Birmingham, Ala., who served as chairman from 2000-08, was named chairman emeritus.
The Advisory Council represents the independent gymnastics organizations with three representatives on the Board and meets annually during the USA Gymnastics National Congress. The three representatives for the Advisory Council on the Board of Directors are: Mike Burns, U.S. Elite Coaches Association - Men; Ron Ferris, Amateur Athletic Union; and Carol Ide, National Association of Women’s Gymnastics Judges. The organizations on the Advisory Council are listed below.
Our role in the Olympic family
The International Olympic Committee was created by the Congress of Paris on June 23, 1894, and was entrusted with the control and development of the Modern Olympic Games. The IOC is the final authority on all questions concerning the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement.
The Federation Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG) is recognized by the IOC and is responsible for the governance of the sport of gymnastics on the international level. The FIG establishes the rules on eligibility that each country with a national gymnastics federation must follow. Nearly 130 countries are members of the FIG.
USA Gymnastics became officially recognized by the FIG in October 1970. The following representatives of USA Gymnastics currently serve on FIG committees: Ron Froehlich, auditor; Bob Colarossi, Executive Committee member; Tonya Case, vice president of the Acrobatic Gymnastics Technical Committee; and John Roethlisberger, member of the Athletes’ Commission.
The U.S. Olympic Committee, headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., since 1978, is comprised of 78 member organizations, including USA Gymnastics. The USOC is recognized by the IOC and is responsible for the U.S. Olympic Team and Pan American Games Team. It is the guardian of the U.S. Olympic Movement.
Gymnastics And Its Athletes
USA Gymnastics has a variety of programs for all ages and skill levels from grassroots to advanced. USA Gymnastics strives to provide a positive learning experience for those interested in the sport of gymnastics.
At the grassroots level of gymnastics, USA Gymnastics plays a significant role. Gymnasts at this level take classes at a local USA Gymnastics member club, YMCA or YWCA, parks and recreation facility or in physical education class in school. Gymnastics is an extraordinary sport that develops flexibility, strength, grace, discipline, control, coordination, goal orientation, confidence, creativity, leadership, a healthy body and positive self-esteem. Through hard work and dedication, gymnasts can improve their abilities and possibly even represent the United States in major competitions. Athletes’ goals and objectives vary when participating in the sport of gymnastics. Different goals for gymnasts include participating in a weekly gymnastics class for fun and recreation, performing in exhibitions, competing for a high school team, competing in a Junior Olympic program, earning a college scholarship, or even making a World Championships team. More than 3,500 sanctioned meets a year are conducted with gymnasts grouped on the basis of age and ability.
In addition to junior and senior national teams, the men’s, women’s, rhythmic and acrobatic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling programs each have a Junior Olympic and elite development program. All the programs benefit from developmental training programs conducted by USA Gymnastics.
The National Team
The junior and senior national teams feature a designated number of gymnasts for men’s, women’s, rhythmic, trampoline and tumbling, and acrobatic gymnastics. Members of the national team are selected based on performances in the all-around at the national championships or through an alternative system established by the respective program.
The men’s national team has 28 senior and junior elite members. The junior national team is broken into two age groups, 14-15 and 16-18. The number of junior and senior members fluctuates depending on the timing within the Olympic cycle. The men’s senior national team is selected after the Winter Cup and the Visa Championships, based on performances at the event, points earned through the points-evaluation system and other factors considered by the committee. For the most part, the junior team members are chosen based on performances at the Visa Championships.
The women’s national team includes a total of 28 junior and senior members. The number of junior and senior members fluctuates depending on the timing within the Olympic cycle. In 2007, the senior national team will include gymnasts who will be 16 in the calendar year of 2008. The U.S. women’s national team is named based on finishes at the Visa Championships and approved petitions to the team.
Also chosen based on performances in the all-around at the Visa Championships, the rhythmic national team has eight junior and eight senior members. Trampoline and tumbling names its national team following the US Championships each year using a selection and points system based on competitive performances. Athletes may be named to the junior or senior team in one or more of the events, which are trampoline, tumbling and double mini. Acrobatic gymnastics national team includes a maximum of three pair/groups per event. Acrobatic gymnastics selects its national team based on performances at the national championships and National Team Trials.
Artistic and rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling have age-group, developmental programs to identify young, talented gymnasts. The program for women is called the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs), while the programs for men’s and rhythmic gymnastics are called Future Stars. Trampoline and tumbling’s developmental program is called JumpStart. The women’s, men’s and trampoline and tumbling programs have local, state and national testing, while rhythmic has national testing.
For women’s gymnastics, the Talent Opportunity Program (TOPs) is a nationwide, annual program to identify young gymnasts who have the ability to excel in the sport. More than 3,100 gymnasts participate in state and regional testing, with more than 300 qualifying for national testing based on state and regional scores. State and regional testing is conducted for gymnasts 7-11 years of age, with the 9-11 year olds eligible to advance to national testing. The best 7-and 8-year-olds qualify based on their test scores from state and regional testing, while the 9-11 year olds are named to the team based on national test scores. The TOPs National Team has about 70 gymnasts, approximately 20 gymnasts in each age group.
For the men, the Future Stars program is designed is to identify talented athletes and to get them started on the right developmental path to national and international success. The program uses a special competitive routine format to evaluate the skill, strength and flexibility development of the athlete. The Future Stars National Championships features the best 10-, 11- and 12-year-olds in the United States who perform special Future Stars competitive routines. Based on the results at the championships, USA Gymnastics identifies the Future Stars Developmental Team, which includes the top 18 gymnasts in both the 10- and 11-year-old divisions and 14 gymnasts in the 12-year-old division.
The programs for rhythmic gymnastics and trampoline and tumbling are aimed toward 7-12 year olds. Rhythmic gymnastics has national testing for its Future Stars program, which helps determine if an athlete is suited for the elite level of rhythmic gymnastics. Based on the results, a national developmental team is named. For trampoline and tumbling, the Jumpstart program begins on the club level and then advances to state and national testing. Based on national tests for fitness, flexibility, strength and skills, a national JumpStart Team is named.
Group gymnastics (GG) is an activity for all ages and all ability levels. Groups ranging in size from less than 10 to several thousand people perform exhibition routines that use elements from artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, aerobics, dance, jazz-dance, folk dance, mini-trampoline, and much more. There is also a GG competitive division that is called TeamGym. In TeamGym, squads of athletes compete in events that involve tumbling, vaulting, mini-trampoline and group floor exercise. Every four years, USA Gymnastics participates with an official delegation in the World Gymnaestrada. This FIG event features more than 20,000 participants from all around the world. Internationally, group gymnastics is known as “gymnastics for all.”