Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Gymnastics was held on the Louisiana State University campus. At that time, there were three events offered and competition was unisex. Tumbling, floor exercise and low beam were the 3 events. It was my first international competition, and I was surprised to see many floor exercise routines with costumes! Many of the female competitors did what I would call “dance routines” with some forward rolls. There were talented competitors, and I was quite surprised when in front of the venue a coach asked her athlete to show me his abilities. He performed a standing back tuck right there!
There were 161 gymnasts competing from the possible 50 states, 5 US territories and 48 other countries attending. A local coach, Mary Figueroa was the volunteer meet director. Mary was the Head Coach of the Louisiana Special Olympics Gymnastics Program.
The beaming faces of the gymnasts as they completed their routines declared their pride. As has been written it was “One of the most moving, and emotional sports events one could ever experience in this lifetime.”
Before the conclusion of the competition, I put together a questionnaire for all the head coaches about gymnastics. I surveyed them regarding next steps with the program- events offered, levels of compulsories, optionals, etc. One of my goals was to make changes where coaches and athletes can learn appropriate progression of skills and techniques in a safe manner.
The follow up from my questionnaire involved: