Thursday, July 7, 2011

Vanessa Atler, from Gymnast to Coach

There has been much said about the decision to leave Vanessa Atler off of the 2000 US Olympic Team. Touted as one of the brightest gymnasts our nation had ever seen, we watched her supposed downfall play out in the last year and a half of her competitive career.

If I had to choose one of my favorite American gymnasts, it would be her. Why? She's human! These girls go through unfathomable pressure on a daily basis, and to carry the weight of a nation's hopes on your shoulders is no easy task. Everyone highlights all the low points in her career while prefacing it with 'she had so much potential' or 'she could have been so good'.

Well, she was so good. An explosive talent on vault, a rock steady beam worker, an expressive floor worker, and truthfully she was not too shabby on bars-she just couldn't be fluent with all the nerves.

This is one of the few times she ever hit this routine in competition as it was structured. Her reaction is priceless.

Vanessa is a coach now and she runs a wonderful blog, From Gymnast to Coach. I frequent the blog for her insight on the relationship between coach and gymnast and parent. Her words ring so true because we all know she lived it. Instead of dwelling on the problems, she offers the solutions she wishes she saw in her competitive days and the ones she presents to her gymnasts now. It is a wonderful blog for coaches and parents to read. As I can tell, she is a great coach who has a lot of heart for her gymnasts.

Just like she was as a gymnast, she is completely honest as a coach. She doesn't pretend to know everything about coaching the sport because she was an elite. She often asks the opinions of her readers and posts new ideas she's learned at the hands of others.

I am so happy she has stayed active in the sport. I thank her for providing such a positive club gymnastics experience for her girls and for sharing that with the rest of us. You rock, Vanessa.

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