Bullying. It can be so hard for kids in school. Now put those kids in a leotard and in gymnastics, one of the most competitive individual sports out there. Unfortunately, kids are not the only ones who have to deal with this type of abuse. I’d like to open up about my experiences getting bullied from almost every angle in gymnastics.
SO WHO ARE THE BULLY’S, AND WHO ARE THEY BULLYING?
- Gymnast to Gymnast:
- Being told to shave my legs at the age of 8years old by an older teammate that I looked up to.
- Witnessing gymnasts that I’ve coached make fun of the weaker girls during conditioning.
- Gymnast to Coach:
- Overhearing gymnasts telling each other that I am a terrible coach and they shouldn’t listen to me.
- One gymnast tells me which girls hate me and roll their eyes when I walk into the gym.
- Parent to Coach:
- Hearing a parent scream through the phone, “That 22 year old is acting like a 12 year old disrespecting my daughter!” Meanwhile, I was 26 and her daughter was rolling her eyes at me and not cooperating throughout practice.
- Gym Owner to Coach:
- An ex-boss/ gym owner yells at me, “WHAT DO YOU WANT!?” as I ask what the times were for the rec class that I was going to cover.
- Choreographer to Choreographer:
- Choreographer, who is also a judge, tells gymnast after a mock meet that her routine will not score high because of the choreography I made and it was nothing to do with her execution. Gymnast then goes on to score a 9.5 at her first meet of the season with that same routine.
- Coach to Choreographer:
- Getting a severe fever and not being able to teach 6 floor routines (3 hrs each) in only 2 days and being told that I was unprofessional and have poor business sense.
- Being accused of video taping a coach arguing with a judge, (which I didn’t even witness, never mind get on tape), over a start value error.
- Coach to Coach:
- Walking into a gym on my very first day and the head coach screams at me (in Spanish), “YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT GYMNASTICS!” in front of all of the kids.
- Business to Business
- Being handed a lawyers phone number and telling me what I am doing is wrong.
- Being slandered at a National Gymnastics convention by a floor music company telling attendees that I’m pirating music.
This list doesn’t even include coaches to gym owners, parents to parents, parents to gymnasts, coaches to judges, judges to coaches, judges to judges, and simply people to people.
SO WHAT IS ALL THIS BULLYING ABOUT AND HOW AM I STILL STANDING CONFIDENTLY?
What I am about to say is not the end all be all. It is simply what I’ve come to realize from my personal experiences.
People who feel the need to bully are simply insecure and feel threatened by you. The girl who makes fun of the weaker girls knows what it’s like to be the weak one. The parents complain about the coaches because they can’t face the fact that their kids are entitled. Choreographer bullies choreographer because the routines may be a little more unique and exciting than their own routines. Coach accuses and yells at choreographer for video taping because he/she knows that they messed up the start value of the routine. The head coach yells at the new coach because of fear that new coach just might know a little more or be just be a better coach. Floor music company slanders and threatens floor music company out of fear and insecurity of losing business.
No matter how much bullying I’ve taken in this sport, I remain confident in everything that I do. It isn’t an easy thing to do. I know I am a great coach because of the time I spend thinking about the gymnasts and planning practices outside of the gym, motivating the girls with positivity, and getting genuinely excited for them when they get a new skill. As for my choreography, I can’t say it is better than others, but I can say that I put my everything into each routine I make while I create the story that the gymnast showcases on the floor. When it comes to my floor music company, I’ve only consulted with top entertainment attorneys in New York City and Miami and have ZERO legal issues behind the music. Having this security in myself and what I do allows me to continue on my gymnastics journey and face all of this without letting it affect who I am.
I haven’t been able to be where I am today on my own. I wasn’t born with this feeling of strength and confidence, I was able to develop this over time and with a great support team. As both a young gymnast and an adult coach, I’ve driven home from practice with tears in my eyes, but I’ve had a great support team to thank who constantly remind me of how knowledgable and passionate I am about what I do.
But what upsets me the most about all of this, is that gymnasts, parents, coaches, gym owners, choreographers, judges, and industry suppliers of gymnastics all do what they do for the mere love and passion for gymnastics. We are all on the same team. We share the same desire and sacrifice the same things to be a part of this amazing sport. Having a team is so important in creating a positive environment for kids to grow up in and for adults to live in. That is why I started using the term Team Jumptwist. I wish to unite the gymnastics community and encourage everyone to support each other.
My goal is to promote a positive outlook within the gymnastics community and the rest of the world. I look forward to a world where bullying isn’t an issue, but rather constructive feedback. I can only hope the world can move in the direction of love, support, and encouragement.
IF YOU ARE FEELING BULLIED, PLEASE SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE IN THE COMMENT SECTION BELOW AND TOGETHER WE CAN STAND STRONG! IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EMAIL ME PERSONALLY, I’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU (GAMBINO.CHRISTINA@GMAIL.COM).
Thank you for reading my story and please share it.