A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Defection of Douglas: Part Three

Because they loved and cared for our dear Gabrielle Douglas so, so much, those wacky characters at Excalibur decided it best to sell the Douglas story to the newpapers.  As we all know, Gabby's familial situation is very relevant to our interests as gymnastics fans.  I mean, sure, Gabby had just competed her Amanar for the first time, but did you know her parents had divorced and then remarried??  SCANDAL

There have been grapes of the sour variety ever since.  One wonders if the bitterness started exactly at SCAM.  I don't remember reading any articles desperately claiming Gabby as theirs during, say, 2011 Nationals in Saint Paul.  I mean, it's weird that they only wanted to make sure everyone knew she had trained there for a period of time after she started to win.  I mean, just super bizarre. 

Again, I don't judge them for being proud of a gymnast they had A PART in developing.  But that pride seemed to pervert itself into something else.  Like, am I misunderstood, and Gabby is actually the biological child of Dena and Gustavo?

Perhaps these overwhelming possessive qualities contributed to Gabby feeling isolated in the gym.  As we all know, Gabby had the balls to go on Oprah and calmly explain that she was made to feel uncomfortable from time to time in her old gym.


There have been many different responses to this interview.  And what is more shocking than the responding vitriol seems to be the fact that they admittedly did not watch the interview.  Like, an embarrassingly large number of people have formed opinions based off of what they heard had been said.  And, wouldn't you know it, guess who had a large part on spreading those false words of what they believed had been said?

That darned Randy and Sandy Stageberg again!

Was Randy or Sandy going to let this slide?  Hell no.

Randy was up first, writing a diatribe on the Excalibur Facebook page (it has since been deleted) that Gymnewstics kindly shared with us.

This is absolutely ridiculous. I trained at Excalibur gymnastics for 8 years and I personally trained with gabby for 2 of those years.[SO GABBY WAS THERE FOR 4.5 YEARS THAT YOU WEREN'T THERE FOR]  The accusations that are being made against the gymnasts and coaches are just sickening. I watched dena and Gustavo put so much of their time and effort into gabby and the other athletes, no matter their race. Gabby was never a victim, [NEVER, NEVER EVER?] in fact many would say she was one of the favorites. I am not saying that she never felt bullied because when you are in a sport with a bunch of girls it is bond to happen. However, anything that she may have felt was never about race [I CAN'T EVEN?] and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied. I never once heard her complain about girls being mean, [OH, WELL, IF YOU DIDN'T HEAR IT PERSONALLY IN THE 2 YEARS THAT YOU SHARED WITH HER, THAN IT SIMPLY MUST NOT HAVE HAPPENED!] funny how it is just now coming up. Also, not only does she owe the gym thousands of dollars [MINORS DON'T OWE MONEY] but she owes dena thousands as well. I watched dena open her home to gabby, feeding her, taking her to gym, and allowing her to stay over her house whenever gabby wanted to. You take people like dena and Gustavo, people that are selfless and put so much into helping these gymnasts reach their potential and you make them out to be evil and heartless.[SHE DIDN'T SAY SHIT ABOUT DENA AND GUSTAVO. SHE SAID SHE HAD MEAN ASS TEAMMATES. LIKE YOU] You should all be ashamed of yourselves. Unless you were there to witness these so called racial acts against gabby I suggest you take your comments elsewhere because you sound ignorant. Girls leave gyms all the time it is just part of being an athlete but there is absolutely no need to publicly bash people that have done nothing but support you [THERE IS ALSO NO NEED TO PUBLICLY BASH A TEENAGER FOR HER CHOICE TO FIND A DIFFERENT GYM] and do the best they can to help you reach your dreams. I also trained with Morgan Evans Marcia Newby  Britney Ranzy and Sheriese Clark [THE ONLY GIRL WHO COULD EVEN KIND OF BE CONSIDERED ONE OF GABBY'S CONTEMPORARIES] all of which were on the national team and are African American. I can assure you they all have nothing but great things to say about their experience at Excalibur. [WELL, IF THOSE GIRLS WEREN'T BULLIED, THEN THERE'S 100% NO CHANCE THAT GABBY COULD HAVE BEEN!]

People are latching onto Gabby's quote claiming she was the only African-American at the gym, which is pretty clearly a misstatement.  But since Gabby got it wrong, that discredits everything else she ever says.  Right?

I am fully aware that Excalibur held a viewing party for the Olympics (not unlike every other gym in the country) and had they not publicly trashed Gabby months before, I would have thought "Oh, what a nice viewing party.  They must really care."  They invited the news cameras in, yet again, to show how awesome and supportive Gabby's old teammates and coaches are.  Man, they seem like some really great people.   

It seems that Dena and Co. also held a veiwing party for their teenagers to watch what had already been previewed to be an expose of sorts regarding some shady behavior compliments of the gym.  That is the only explanation I have for each child of Excalibur having a meltdown.  After Gabby claimed that she had been bullied in the gym, her ex-teammates got online and bullied her for daring to have called them bullies.

Absolutely no way this child could have been one of the bullies.  No. Way.

Not one.  Especially not the one you just sent to her on Twitter.  And she saw it, yes!  #winning

To quote a certain 2004 Lindsay Lohan classic, "SHE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE!"

No mean girls here folks.  Move along. 

Mean adult male coaches though?  Those we have in stock.

Again, this was on the Excalibur Facebook page.  It wasn't buried somewhere.  It was front page for people to read and discuss.

Now, this Gustavo character seems like a class act.  I suspect he was the same coach who was peddling used gym shirts for $200 because they were from Excalibur and "Abby Douglas" was also from Excalibur.

"Do you know Gabby and her mother to know certainly how much you can trust them?"


"Is Gabrielle credible just because she is an Olympic Champion?"


"She's not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe the accusation is fake."


Not that this needs to be said, but I'll say it anyway: the issue is a teenager coming out about bullying among her peers.  It's not a motherfucking medical journal.  It doesn't need sources to be true.     

So, instead of using this as an opportunity round up the kids and teach a lesson about racism and bullying, or even perceived racism or bullying, Excalibur instead got the kids together and told them they should all freak the fuck out.

Now, again, I'm not a parent.  I haven't coached in years.  But as a relatively normal human being, I feel that, had I been in this position, I would have told that kids not to take it personally, as no names were named, but maybe use this as a chance to make sure you are acting with kind words towards everyone.  Maybe it's not you, maybe you see someone being a mean horrid bitch to another little girl.  See something, say something.  It would also be a great time to explain that you can't always believe what you see on TV.  Explain that, while Gabby means every word she says, anyone who goes on TV is at the mercy of producers and editors, and as such, make sure that you give Gabby the benefit of the doubt before having any sort of irrational teenage blowup.

Clearly, Dena and Gustavo do not share my ways.

Instead, we get this:

If I understand correctly, Gustavo is allowed to "abuse innocent children," but Oprah and Gabby are not.  Also, changing the "image from a person using the good name of good people and innocent children will not work," unless you are old coaches trying to do so to Gabby.  In which case, go right ahead. 

Also, let's point out that Gustavo seems to think that any person  who might have a picture of a black woman in her profile picture and posts on Facebook is obviously Gabby's mom.

This is not mine, but The Single Father's Blog sums it up perfectly:

"So basically, what she is saying is that as long as the little black girl still owes a debt to the owners of the gym, she should keep her mouth closed until that debt is paid.  She shouldn’t be allowed to speak out publicly about an issue that has long lasting effects like low self esteem, youth violence, poor academic performance, and many times suicide.  I TOTALLY get it now. *slaps self on forehead*  When someone gets bullied it’s their own fault and not the fault of the people who are doing the bullying, and the person that is being bullied shouldn’t speak out publicly about the humiliation they received. Oh, and how could I forget about the statute of limitations that is placed on being bullied.  You’re not allowed to speak out about it once you win a gold medal and have the nation’s attention, because that would just be too much like the right thing to do with the platform that God has given you…Silly me!"

There have to be at least one billion reasons why a young teenage girl isn't comfortable enough to come forward about bullying.  Anyone who has been in a gym, or at least seen an episode of Dance Moms, can attest to the fact that gyms are catty places in general.  When you add in the fact that your coach is BFFs with the previous gym star's mother, it's not hard to see why Gabby might not have been comfortable stepping forward with these allegations. 

Like Randy Stageberg, Dena Walker also seems to believe that if she didn't personally see or hear it, then there's 100% absolutely NO CHANCE it could have happened.  Now, unlike Randy, Dena doesn't pretend that she is all knowing, and that she can be everywhere at once.  She just KNOWS  that had Gabby actually been spoken to in a degrading way, that she would have marched into Dena's office immediately and shared everything.

I hate linking to TMZ, because I hate them, so I'll let you google the interview for yourselves.  And good luck to you, because the video is 40 minutes long, and they won't let you skip through it.  Lucky for you, I transcribed the good parts.  And by good I mean laughably awful.

TMZ: So, she is saying that there were racial remarks hurled at her.  Is it possible that from time to time that somebody said things that just went under your radar?

SCREAMIN' DENA: I have never heard anything like that.  If ANYTHING at ALL would have been said, she would have been in our office in a second.  And that never happened in six and a half years.

TMZ: Dena, have you tried to get in touch with Gabby since these remarks were made?

SCREAMIN' DENAThe telephone number, the cell number I had for her was no longer existed (sic) because I had tried maybe a couple of months ago.  I spoke to her coach Chow on the phone about a week ago, and I let him know that there was a lot of people trying to do things for her, and give her things, and I just needed some kind of a contact.  And he said he had absolutely no control over the situation.  That was his comment to me.  

Again, what is there to say that hasn't been made blatantly obvious?  Dena wants to bypass Sheryl Shade and all the other typical points of contact, even after all the garbage she has been spewing about Gabby for months, so that people can DO THINGS FOR HER and GIVE HER THINGS.  I am simply shocked that Chow did not fall for that.  

The lesson here is that it is not 16 year old Gabby's fault that Excalibur's reputation has been besmirched.  They did that all on their own.  They did so by publicly trashing a teenager they claimed to care about and support.  They did so by claiming every ounce of her talent as their own, and took offense to anyone assuming otherwise.  They did so calling the teenager they care so much about a LIAR when she dared to open up about their bullying.  They did so by continuing to bully her because she called them out on their behavior.    The did so allowing and encouraging their adult members to gang up against a teenager.  They did so by explaining to children that it's not OK to talk about inappropriate behavior, and unless you mention it immediately and provide names, dates, and quotes, you are a LIAR.  They did so by reminding us that it doesn't matter how hard you work, or how much you overcome- there will always be an army of angry, bitter people who will stop at nothing to bring you down because they simply cannot handle seeing you on top.  

Excalibur's going to have to try a whole lot harder to bring Gabby down.  If there is one thing you CAN blame Gabby's family for, it's for instilling her with class and poise.  And that kind of dignity is something no coach can ever steal away from her.   

The Defection of Douglas: Part Two

The war had begun.

Gabby signs up with agent extraordinaire Sheryl "Make My Taco Pop" Shade, and about 40 seconds later, Team Excalibur comes crying about money owed.

Let's discuss this.

Given the March article, and pretty much each one following it, the fine leaders over at Excalibur have made it abundantly clear that financial rewards are their number one priority. 

Some messages have been muddled.  Randy and Sandy Stageberg, who again for whatever reason are co-starring in this shitshow, want to make sure that everyone knows that GABBY, 16 year old Gabby, owes Dena and Gustavo hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now, one might ask how a minor can rack up such serious debt.  Let's figure it out.

Clearly, some of that was accrued due to training expenses.  The hourly crap that many gyms provide scholarships for, because as we all know, elites don't make the big bucks for gyms- the rec kids do.  So it's safe to assume the cutting the bill for Gabby to train cost the gym exactly zero dollars.

Competition and travel costs?  That shit adds up.  Of course it does.  However, does it add up to $20k dollars?  Unless you're booking private jets and shit, no, it does not.

So where are the extra expenses coming from?

Let's ask my new best friend, Dena Walker. 

Walker has reiterated repeatedly that she was a mother figure to Gabby.  She drove her to the gym, let her play with her daughter, and taught her to swim.  Yes, that sounds worth about $10k to me.

In all seriousness though, let's talk about this.

Let's just say Dena really was a source of comfort or escape for Gabby.  As Team Excalibur was clear to broadcast publicly, Gabby was dealing with some parent issues at home.  We're to believe that Dena was this great trusted adult to Gabby during her time of need.

*language alert*

So then WHY THE FUCK is she coming around asking for something in return??  I fully expect an itemized fucking tab, complete with mileage charges because clearly Dena was a chauffeur, chef, and nanny for hire, and not a parent doing this out of the kindness of her heart.  

Don't fucking run around and pretend to be a trusted adult to a child only to turn around and air her dirty laundry, and then demand financial retribution for your "kindness."

Newsflash: if you are coaching in search of fame and money, you are in the wrong business.  If you are helping out a child in need in search of recognition and money, you're just a bad fucking person. 

I think back to my own childhood, which was admittedly pretty fucked up. My parents were going through their own shit, which as we all know isn't fun for any kid to deal with.  It was a rocky time for all of us.  However, I was fortunate to have a best friend with intensely generous and thoughtful parents.  When I think about every meal I was fed, every vacation I was brought along on, every additional security I was allowed to experience because of these exceptional people, it makes my chest hurt.

They didn't have to do that.   It's expected of you not to be a shitty parent to your own child, but there's nothing that says you have to be generous and caring of their friends.  Anyone who does that does so by their own accord. 

What if tomorrow, my BFF's mother came to me explaining that I now owed her family X amount of dollars because of the time and money they invested in me?

I'd be fucked.

But lucky for me, and most people everywhere, adults didn't "care" about me with the belief that they'd ever get anything tangible out of it.  Gabby wasn't so lucky.  Clearly, the people that she and her family trusted her with have the expectation that Gabby now owes them for their generosity. 

So let's talk about payback.

Again, cue Randy and Sandy Stageberg, who are the go-to expert on everything financially Douglas.

Gabby doesn't owe one fucking red cent.  Maybe her mother does, and if that's the case, which I expect it's not because something would have been done about it long ago, then the gym should sue for the millions of billions that they believe they deserve. 

But as it stands, not a whole lot of people are in the business of charging children for services rendered.  I am having a hard time thinking of one private school that would hold a child personally responsible for tuition, nor am I aware of any companies that would open up a line of credit for a minor. 

Perhaps Sandy would have no qualms about pilfering off of her own daughter for financial gain, who knows.  What we do know is that Randy and Sandy Stageberg seem very invested in Gabby's financial interests.

I'm sure that Sandy is a completely impartial third party.


When I was a kid, I used to tell my mom that when I was rich and famous, I was going to buy her a castle and limos and a hundred million different things.  My sister and I would fight about it, arguing who would buy our mom the biggest and best thing.  My mom smiled and let us blather on, as good mothers do.  Until this one day.  One day I was blabbering on about how once I made my jillions of dollars, then my mother would never have to worry about money again.  Wouldn't that be great?!  She looked me square in the eyeball, and said

"I would rather eat catfood than take money from my child."

Obviously I thought she was batshit crazy.  But as I got older, I got it.  I get it.  I can only pray that in time, the Excalibur family will finally get it.   

The Defection of Douglas: Part One


I have been mulling over how to address this debacle for many hours now.  I have been desperately trying to separate what I know to be my clear bias from the facts. 

Lots of people have their own version of the facts, it seems.  I won't even pretend to know up from down in this situation, but I will comment on the one thing that is painfully obvious: a bunch of fucking adults are ganging up on a teenage kid.

Chances are this will become a blog of many parts, because there are just so many aspects of this shit that pisses me off.

Let's start at the beginning.  And by beginning, I mean the start of the media attention of

Douglas v Excalibur. 

Let's journey back.  The year was 2010.  Some knew who Gabby Douglas was, most didn't.  Those who paid attention knew of the young talent who impressed in the Nastia Cup, and then had the most incredible save ever on UB in Chicago at the Underpad Classics.  People were becoming aware of the young girl from Excalibur with fabulous lines and a split leap to die for.  

Fans seemed to enjoy her, yet not a whole lot was made about her move from Virginia.  Most of it was speculation about where she would end up.  Rumor at the time was that she was leaving because of her dad's job relocation, so I don't think anyone suspected that she was unhappy at Excalibur.  Most of the discussion revolved around whether or not she'd go to Hills or WOGA.  When she ended up at Chows, the general opinion was "Hey, that's nice," and fans went on their merry way. 

We all watched the ups and downs of the Dougie Show for the next 18 months.  While she was certainly on the radar of certain plucky young bloggers, she wasn't yet known to the mainstream media.  I am fairly certain that zero Virgina-based newspapers wrote scathing articles regarding her defection during this time.  

That all changed when the world noticed one Lady Douglas.  

This pains me as much as it pains you, but yes, SCAM is a source of national, if not worldwide media attention.  HEAR ME OUT.  You and I know better, we understand the game.  But, through the eyes of the #fouryear media, SCAM is a totally legit and absolutely not-shady and PRESTIGIOUS (you have to read it in a Tim Daggett voice) competition.

As we all know, Gabby "won" this totally legit and absolutely prestigious competition, which more importantly she happened to "win" on NBC smack in the middle of a glorious Saturday afternoon.  One could win Worlds in Bora Bora, and unless it was shown on NBC in prime time, the American world will never know about it.  But air a competition on NBC in that prime weekend slot, and people will know who won.

To put it all in perspective, this was the first time Gabby Douglas trended on Twitter.

Now, Gabby left Virginia in September of 2010, and this oh-so memorable SCAM occurred in March of 2012.  Now, during those 18 months, we heard zero public cries from the folks over at Excalibur.

I say public because I'm sure they were flapping their mouths before and during that time.  There was plenty to flap about, what with losing their prized pupil and all.  However, and this coming from a very open and admitted gymternet addict who spends WAY too many hours online, I saw exactly zero rumblings regarding the Douglas defection.  Whatever rumors existed kept themselves where they ought to be- between the mouths and minds of bored gym moms and bitter ex-coaches.

March 29, 2012- The Virginia Pilot.

"This is as professional as it gets"

Consider this the first swing.

I don't know who reached out to who.  Maybe the paper thought "Hey, there's a local girl who's making a splash nationally in her sport.  Let's get the scoop and interview her old gym."  Perhaps Dena and Gustavo, that fine Excalibur duo, contacted the paper in order to vent their frustrations over Gabby's growing popularity.  Frankly, I don't know and I don't so much care.  Either way, some shady shit went down.

If the Dramatic Duo are bitter about the defection, then that's their prerogative.  I imagine that to be a very natural and understandable reaction.  Granted, you don't see Geddert whining about Bross' successes, and I have yet to hear Gym-Max take credit for Maroney's Amanar, but that is neither here nor there.  The point is these particular coaches were feeling the sting of seeing their star succeed elsewhere.  Can't say I blame them.

Had the story stopped there, I would have thought nothing of it.  No one would have thought anything of it.  But it didn't stop there.  No.  Instead, Gabby's old coaches, the ones who cared so very much for her, thought it best to air her dirty laundry.  No, I'm sorry, her parent's dirty laundry.

This was the first time I remember getting actual eye twitches from this story.  Like the little rat animal from the Ice Age movies, my eye started to literally twitch from rage.

Oh, and I guess Randy and Sandy Stageberg were there?  Because they're major characters in this story, and totally matter.  And yet here they were, yapping away to every publication that would have them. 

The war had begun. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Gone with the Win

After many, many years of waiting, two lucky Americans got their life long wishes.  So many years spent, so many tears wept, so many tense hours spent together.  Fate put them together, and now a gold medal will keep them there. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

The Best of Ebay

As expected, the entire planet is now a part of Fab Five mania.  (I hate the word "fierce" with a passion fiery and true.  I refuse to use it.)  Of course, NBC and Sheryl Shade aren't the only ones out to make a buck off of the superstar teenagers.  I went to Ebay to see who else had the entrepreneurial wherewithal to sell a bunch of crap with the Fab Five name on it. 

Let's start with ridiculously priced stuff.  $175 for a signed picture?  No thanks.  And let's talk about photo choices.  Those looking to suck all they can from the Gabby Douglas name have bunches and bunches and bunches of fantastic pictures to choose from.  Please don't pick like, the one in existence that isn't flattering, and then ask me to pay $100 for it.   

The same can be said for this horrible Maroney shot.  Like, of all the awesome vault and random other pictures there are to choose from, you pick one where's she ass down on the vault mats.  Yes, let me frame this moment forever!  I can't imagine anyone other than Paseka or maybe Belu and Bitang bidding on this. 

Now we have some random upside down crap, some of which also belongs in the stupid price group.

Here's some random garbage, and I don't really know what most of it is.  I mean, I know that's a horrible, awful, no good leotard on the bottom, but the rest is pretty iffy to me. 

If we might revisit the Gabby Douglas moochers, we'll seemingly find a bunch of people who are pumped to bank on the good Dougie name.  A black Barbie- MUST be Dougie!  Here's 50 bucks.  That shirt looks like it was photoshopped, and does not appear to follow human proportions. 

So that junk is tacky, but this next one is just shameful.  Shocking, just shocking that it comes compliments of Excalibur.

Like, let's talk about this.  So I, Spanny F. Tampson, am to buy a cheap used shirt worn by some random coach from the gym Gabby used to train at, and you want me to pay over $200 for it??  GTFO.

I mean, clearly this person was super duper close to "Abby" and has only good intentions from shamelessly trying to mooch off of her name.  Again, I cannot believe this came from those classy folks over at Excalibur. 

And to top us off, here's a $35 Kmart photo of Jaycie Phelps.  Because why not?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


"Mary. is. Watching."

*Both picture and title were sent to me by the divine Fanny Godzilla Cheatham.  If you've ever downloaded or watched a super high quality routine or entire meet from NBC one day after it aired, you have Fanny to thank.  So please go do that.  I know I did.

Creepiest Moment of the Games!

The Ballad of John Geddert

So many people are on about John Geddert and his tweets.  I just couldn't care less.  Maybe I'm burnt out, maybe I'm more focused on other events (*cough* Dougie AA *cough*) but the point remains is that what John Geddert tweets means so precious little to me.

That said, the man takes fantastic pictures.

The above picture is glorious for many reasons.  I needn't point them all out to you.  John is just so... special.  I've seen this pose before.  Many times.  But where?

Am I missing any especially memorable John Geddert poses?  Let me know.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


There are just too many of them.  Four years.  Four years everywhere. Four years as far as the eye can see.  In other news, Tim and Elfie are apparently four years now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012


This is about 1/1000000th of what was out there.  The #fouryears are out in force, people.  Enjoy.