The below note was sent to members of the gymnastics community from USAG CEO Li Li Leung on December 23.
Dear USA Gymnastics community,
I hope each of you is getting ready to enjoy some much-deserved rest, recovery, and time with loved ones during this holiday season.
Before we close out 2020 (which I think we are all ready to do!), I’d like to take a moment to reflect on this past year. None of us could have anticipated a worldwide pandemic wreaking so much havoc – threatening the health of our family and friends, forcing postponement of the Olympics, the indefinite closure of a number of gyms, and the end of several collegiate programs. It has been a very tough year for so many of you in the community – physically, financially, and emotionally – and we know that it will take time to recover.
Yet even with such hardships, we should also celebrate the resilient spirit you all have exhibited and how you have come together during this difficult year – sharing resources, best practices, and innovative ways to continue training and celebrating the sport we all love. It is clear how deep the passion for this sport runs, and how the grit, discipline, and flexibility we aspire to teach athletes shows up in all of us in moments like this.
Like so many of you, this year also brought unexpected challenges to our organization. As we sought to understand how to help our community stay safe and informed, we also spent a lot of time working behind the scenes to rearrange our own operations – moving to an entirely virtual National Congress & Tradeshow, launching virtual event sanctions, postponing and eventually canceling major events while planning in parallel for future events, to name a few.
But we were also committed to making forward progress this year, despite the unexpected. During this year:
- We rounded out our executive leadership team by bringing on two new leaders – Lauryn Turner, as Chief of Staff, and Carol Fabrizio, as Chief Communications and Marketing Officer – and elevating Kim Kranz, formerly VP of Athlete Health and Wellness, to Chief of Athlete Wellness. I am proud of this new team, and inspired by their passion for supporting the gymnastics community and commitment to our mission.
- A new Mission statement and core values were introduced to guide us as we rebuild. Our mission – to create a community and culture of health, safety and excellence, where athletes can thrive in sport and in life – now serves as our clear "why" for everything we do, while our core values – safety, accountability, integrity, transparency and listening – guide our "how."
- We announced a new Athlete Bill of Rights that helps define expectations related to athlete safety, health and wellness, coaching standards, interaction with other USA Gymnastics members, and organizational integrity and transparency. The Bill, in addition to the new national team protest policy, also make clear that athlete perspectives and voices are not only welcome, but a critical part of moving our sport forward.
- More resources have been dedicated to our educational and Safe Sport efforts, working to bring more transparency to the process and reduce the amount of time it takes to resolve claims.
- Operations were shifted to provide pandemic-related resources like return-to-training guidelines, virtual sanctions and scoring platform, webinars on topics from law to government assistance, and more on our coronavirus resources webpage.
- We committed to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in gymnastics. In addition to reviewing our own operations, we also held three DEI-focused panels to hear from community members, announced a new Transgender and Non-Binary Inclusion Policy, and began working with researchers to help identify potential opportunities for learning and improvement within our sport.
- The Executive Leadership Team virtually met with over 500 state and regional chairs, other volunteer leaders, club owners, and coaches across the country, and set up regular monthly meetings with the Athletes’ Council. By listening and opening up dialogues in this way, we were able to learn so much about the perspective and opinions across our community, helping guide our decisions and priorities.
We are committed to continuing this progress in 2021, and to seeking and incorporating your feedback. As you may have noticed in your membership newsletter, we recently launched a comprehensive cultural survey to assess how we are implementing our mission and values. Please take a moment to share your thoughts with us.
Finally, as I reflect on everything that happened this year, I am also encouraged and inspired by the incredible gymnastics that bookended the year: Morgan Hurd and Sam Mikulak both winning American Cup titles in March, and six incredible gymnasts representing the USA in the Tokyo Friendship and Solidarity Competition in November.
While I am proud of the progress we have made so far, I also know we are not done. 2021 is a new year, but it will still carry some uncertainty. Despite that uncertainty, we will continue to focus on bringing our mission and values to life; we will continue our work to emerge from bankruptcy and reach a resolution with the survivors; we will continue to prepare for competitions and the Olympics in ways we have never had to before; and we will continue to put our community first. We are committed to doing all that.
We also know that 2021 will bring more forward progress within our community, and more gymnastics across the country and the world. And I think we can all agree that we are ready for that!
We are so grateful for your patience and resiliency throughout this tough year, and your indelible passion for this sport. We are excited for what lies ahead, and are humbled and honored to be on this journey with all of you. Thank you for the opportunity to continue serving you.
Li Li Leung
President and CEO, USA Gymnastics