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Changing the Narrative - by Beth Gardner


I had a friend call me, distraught. “We have GOT to change the narrative. I am so tired of negativity.” I agreed. I told him that our beautiful sport needs to re-focus. People outside our sport see one thing...the elite program. The Olympics. The other three years of the quad, they see nothing, hear nothing, and, hence, have no clue about the developmental side of our sport. So, when they hear about the mess the elite program is in...there is no counter-balance. We cannot expect them to know our sport....they only see it once every four years. So, I listed for him the highlights of my career. Here are a few.

When Melanie was able to make it through a full hour class without a meltdown from overstimulation. Then, went on to participate fully in our game nights for three hours at a time.

When Kaylee, who drowned at the age of two, and experienced TBI after resuscitation walked for the first time in 5 years after doctors told her she never would.

When Nicholas came straight from school one day, wearing jeans because at 13 years old his victory was coordinating the two sides of his body so he could button.

When Shelby took 6 steps....then 8...then braved the steps without her mat canyons.

When Jenny said her own name for the first time.

When Yazi became comfortable with the gym and was able to start fully participating in a world she could not see.

When Michael and I figured out how to manage his residual clonus so that he could use his hand.

When that little girl who would fall into tears at a drop of the hat, and felt like a misfit found her niche in our gym and thrived.

When that little boy who others labeled as a trouble maker, too active, too misbehaved...finally realized that we loved him enough to fight him, and then, accept him. ...and suddenly, his behavior improved and he succeeded at his endeavors.

When my kids get that skill they have fought for, and their eyes light up. When my competitors conquer a fear and realize they can stand on their own.

When my coaches end the nights with the hilarious stories about things kids said or did that day.

When our kids move on and become successful in their lives beyond gymnastics.

These are a few of the victories.

I don’t need the Olympics. I see Olympians in my gym every day with hearts as big as any Olympian...

That is why I love our sport, and THAT is my narrative.

Fellow coaches. Step back and watch your Gym at work. Look at the Heart Your kids show every single day. Look at the other coaches and the magic they work in the lives of our children.

Make it your narrative.

Love you guys,
Beth Gardner