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!
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?"
DO I NEED TO? IT'S NOT LIKE I'M GIVING THEM MY SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER. DO I TRUST A 16 YEAR OLD ENOUGH TO TELL THE TRUTH ABOUT BEING BULLIED BY SOME MEAN BITCHES? YES, YES I DO.
"Is Gabrielle credible just because she is an Olympic Champion?"
ARE YOU CREDIBLE JUST BECAUSE YOU'RE BUTTHURT AS SHIT THAT YOUR KIDS WERE CALLED OUT FOR UNACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR?
"She's not giving any names or dates, leading us to believe the accusation is fake."
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT ALL BULLYING CLAIMS NEED TO BE TRUE- SOURCES!
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' DENA: The 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.