A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

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.   


  1. This is amazing. I applaud you.

  2. Spanny, this is why you're the best.

  3. Lol Is it just me or does the first picture look like Cruella DeVille- and she kinda is. She just need to dye or bleach half of her hair.

    Anyway...Thank you Spanny I've been waiting patiently for a new blog and most specifically about this situation. Job well done again

  4. The ever classy and eloquent Spanny does it again. We need more of you in the gymnastics community

  5. I don't disagree that Excalibur has behaved badly here, but footing the bill for Gabby to train certainly didn't cost them nothing, especially if you factor in time which is mostly what coaches bill for. I always got the impression the money gripe was for training fees and competition fees and the points about Dena picking Gabby up and feeding were more a source of hurt because she felt like they were close and then she just left, and to illustrate that they had been good to her. I don't think Dena was expecting to be paid back for time with the family, it was just that if they weren't going to get the publicity for a successful elite then they were not willing to train one for free. That is up for a debate but it's a totally different one. I think this blog post is kind of misleading.

  6. If gabb didn't go to the Olympics her ex coaches wouldn't be asking for money and making this a publicity stunt.

  7. I think it needs to be clear when various statements were made. Was it pre- or post- Oprah interview?

  8. I agree with alot of what you are saying. Although I just wanted to say that I don't think the gym itself has bad mouthed Gabby have they (?)...just her mom I thought.
    I can see how they would feel a bit bitter if they were waiving her tuition and assessments and then they just leave....Obviously they must have thought quite highly of Gabby as well as her gifts if they were willing to do that.
    Also, I wanted to put out there that gym expenses really add up. I have a level 9. Her tuition/assessments are $8020.00/year...and that does NOT include her travel so it is easily $10,000/year...(and I imagine an elite is significantly more with monthly training camps and international travel).
    I also wonder how much Gabby was told what to say. You are absolutely right, she is just a kid and shouldn't be blamed for any of this...but all the adults in the situation shouldn't be using her as a pawn to exploit their own issues.

  9. I get Excalibur fronting the fees for Gabby's training (and I think it's probable that it's the amount they indicated) in exchange for the publicity they figured they'd get for an Olympian. It was a calculated move on their part (knowing her talent) because if it had worked out, they figured the benefit of her making that Olympic team would far exceed the costs they incurred. It's done everyday in this country. That's business and sometimes you take those risks.

    I even get their ire and resentment out of not getting the credit they want for her start and it must suck mightily to hear for months and months that you weren't good enough to coach someone to the Olympic level. And I didn't hear that first from Gabby or her mother, I saw Marta Karolyi say it and if the coordinator of the US Olympic team is implying that, you've got problems that no $20k debt is gonna fix.

    What I really don't get is their behavior since that first interview they gave in March before Gabby even made the Olympic team. It was pretty foul and made zero sense from a business standpoint. Clearly some bad stuff went down on both sides (Gabby's mother herself said she did things she wasn't proud of in her latest interview) but Excalibur laid it to bear first which pretty much ensured it would be answered for in an equally negative fashion.

    All of the financial stuff should have been handled in private and on the level between the adults that made the deal and if lawyers need to be involved so be it. Handle it like most people in business do, settle it for half and agree to not speak about each other for eternity.

  10. My family did not have money and I had people give me things growing up and I did pay them back whenever I could. It wasn't about whether or not they asked for it or expected it, it was because I appreciated it. It was because I didn't take it for granted. Gabby doesn't technically owe anyone anything. But I do hope she realizes how lucky she was. Just because you're not 18 does not mean expensive extra-curricular activities are an inalienable right that others should have to pay for. Forget vacations, meals, and tuition fees, Gabby's lucky she got free rides to practice. A lot of us never even had that.

    1. Had Excalibur not publicly berated her and her family back in March, then who knows what Gabby might have done for them after she won in August. Maybe she would have done a meet and greet, or any sort of fundraiser for the gym. But her old coaches burned that bridge, and I can't blame Gabby for not wanting to help those who so easily sold her out.

    2. Of-course they sold her out. She left the gym and basically said they weren't good enough, to get her too the next level. With all the time coach & athlete spend together. I can image. There were very hurt feelings on both sides. Gymnastics is a very expensive sport. Her mother could easily owe that much. I'd be pissed to, if I let someone train for free & invested all my time. Hoping for a payoff down the line. She leaves & you end up with nothing. I know girls switch gyms all the time. It has to hurt a little more when you're out 19,000 dollars. Then they say your gyms full of bullies & racist. I KNOW that is not what Gabby said. But those were the headlines the next day.

    3. Actually, It was what Gabrielle said. If you watch the interview, She told the story. You say you understand yet show no understanding. Had Excalibur not said anything, not only would Gabrielle have come back, they would have been free to use Gabrielle's name for the rest of eternity. "Gabrielle Trained Here!" Despite the fact of not being good enough to actually finish the job, none of that would have even mattered. Win Win for everybody. How many countless of millions would Excalibur have made in NEW TUITION FEES by merely saying "Gabrielle Trained Here." They could have had tours with displays set up with old leos, shirts and grips. Oh, sorry, maybe not... forgot that the bullies took them. Shame on Excalibur for handling this the wrong way from the start. And shame on anyone else who victimizes someone brave enough to come forward and share there story. The stories you hear about of kids who kill themselves because they are being bullied. They killed themselves because they felt like that was there only way out. Fortunately, Gabby's family was there for her. They got her out of that environment. Great job Spanny!

  11. I feel so bad for her that after everything Gabby has accomplished, people would rather tear her apart for any and all reasons than celebrate her.

  12. "So it's safe to assume the cutting the bill for Gabby to train cost the gym exactly zero dollars."

    Bull. If that were the case, why aren't all gyms training their gymnasts for free? Spanny, you may be happy to work for free, but it doesn't mean everyone is. Just because you have this bizarre *obsession* with Gabby doesn't mean people should somehow be honored to give years of free training to a family who'll be happy to turn around and stab them in the back.

    1. Good point. And it's not just rec gymnasts that bring in the big bucks. Team brings in A LOT of money, especially the girls being promised a shot at the Olympics. Rec doesn't bring in 2 a day practices. Not to mention the endless private lessons normally required to get the attention of coaching staff.

    2. You clearly have no idea how team works. Competitive teams operate at a loss. The money-makers are the rec classes. Jesus. And it's not even like it's hard to figure out team operates at a loss, when you work out how discounted tuition is as their hours go up.

  13. And no. *Gabby* was the one benefiting from the training. *Gabby* is the one who's now going to have enough money to pay off the debts to the gym who trained *her*, not her mother. It's absolutely pathetic that you've deluded yourself to thinking that Gabby shouldn't be the one paying them back.

    You've established in previous posts (being desperate enough to show that you're a Good Daughter by giving up your job and home so that mommy and daddy didn't have to be All Alone when your siblings were deployed) that you have a bizarre and needy family dynamic, so I'd take a good long moment to consider whether anything that happened in your past is actually relevant or helpful to Gabby's case.

    1. Someone pro-Excalibur using my family history in an attempt to insult me... how shocking of you.

  14. I get that coaching, assessment and travel fees can add up, as can costs for things like grips, warmups, and leos. But was any of this documented in advance? Did Gabby's mom have some sort of contract or agreement with Excal and company? If not, they're S*** out of luck. And all contracts would have been signed by her mom, not Gabby, because she's a minor. [When I was little I remember signing a "contract" that was pretty much the rules of the gym, but it certainly wasn't legal or binding and had no mention of actual money.] No matter, all this whining in the media is bad form and tacky.

    And no matter how well they trained her, the fact remains that Chow prepped her for the international stage and coached her through nationals and the Olympics. It would have been better for them [Excal] to congratulate her and handle all the money stuff privately, away from the press.

    Excal screaming to the press/media forces Gabby to respond. Sure she ~could say "no comment", but who does that when interviewed by Oprah? Her mom's being attacked in the press. Who's going to just let that slide?

    I feel for Gabby. The drama with her Dad showing up at Trials, moving around, everything in the press surrounding her hair and the money stuff at Excal. That's a lot to stick on a teenager. On top of The Olympics. I hope things work out for her.

  15. Wow...As a mom of an upper optional gymnast, I was floored by the content of the March 2012 article. My gymnast's gym gives scholarships for summer camp to help families with costs. Their competition team operates in the red; however, the team is a huge reason why the rec program is booming!

    In the midst of adults actually attacking a child, I am so glad to read something that is just plain real! Thanks so much for your honest assessment.

    I'm glad Gabrielle did not say anything until now. She needed to focus on her goal...Olympic gold. Sharing hurtful experiences is definitely not an easy task. It's extremely sad & unsettling to see how many dealt with hearing a CHILD's pain.

    Again, thanks!

  16. Epic business fail on Excaliber's part. They're SOL as far as getting that money back unless they signed a contract with Gabby's mom.

  17. I go to Excalibur Gymnastics and you guys are all very wrong. Check your facts before you post stuff on the internet. Everybody loves Gabby at this gym and when she said we were racist that's what made Dena spring out of her seat and try to throw something back. When the news proved that the gym was not racist because we have a lot of black, Asian, Panamanian, etc. people. Gabby's mother could not pay for the tuition so they let her go for free until she could find the money. When Gabby won the Olympics she had a lot of money, so the gym assumed that she would come and pay us back all the money that she owes. Dena doesn't want any money for taking Gabby to play with her daughter and stuff. If you need more information just reply to me and I'll tell you some more.

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