A random girl's random gymnastics ramblings.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Mary Lee's House of Pain: Part Three

Welcome to the third installment of Mary Lee's House of Pain!  I know you were all tuning in just to see what Sophie Lee was wearing, so here you go.  Pink. 

We catch up with the girls during their morning stretch.  Amelia and Lexie Lee are on the struggle bus, but McCool has bigger fish to fry. 

Now, while seemingly shocking, I think we'd all be lying if we said we hadn't been sat on by a coach at some point in our lives.  I know I have been.  That said, did your coach ever look like she was taking a huge dump on your back while holding a dog wearing pink?  Because mine never did. 

Mary Lee lines up her crew and publicly berates Poof for not being emotional enough on her birthday.  She also promises her a special surprise for ONLY HER (read: no other bitches are getting cake on this day.)  MLT grills Poof on what emotion she might be feeling, and when Amelia answers, Mary Lee freaks out on her. 

Everyone is smiling except for Mary Lee.  What a wasted opportunity to teach everyone about emotions!

Time for beam.  The girls all seem to be working at the same pace, but MLT decides to ride Poof for wiping her hands too much.  She reiterates that this is a chance to try and teach competitive ability while arbitrarily picking times for girls to pretend that THIS is the time that counts. 

Watching Lexie Lee never fails to boggle my mind.  She totally bucks the trend of gymnasts looks so much younger than they are.  She is the one gymnast I have ever seen in my life that looks significantly older than she really is.  I am constantly reminding myself that she hasn't even competed as a senior yet.  When I see her, I just assume she's in her 3rd-4th year at Bama. 

Mary Lee is focusing on Amelia, and how her mental strength as a beamer is really her greatest weakness.  OK. 

Shout out to Amelia's hair.  This is perfectly acceptable for workout.  NOT for competition. 

Mary Lee points out her own "strength of passion."

"My strength of passion and leadership and aggressiveness sometimes makes me say things that I shouldn't say." 

We visit the clock saga real quick.  MLT brings in a gym dad to fix the precious clock.  Although this is either happening on a different day, or Sophie Lee had her first costume change of the day, because she's wearing a red number as opposed to #hotpink.  That or she pissed herself on Mary Lee's mats.

MLT works with Abigail, a pretty girl with a cute training leo.  Abigail appears to be exhausted, but Mary Lee lauds her tireless work ethic and explains that doing skills while exhausted is what builds strength. 

Some little girl is just climbing on shit in the middle of the elite UB rotation.  Which is shocking, because we know Mary Lee cares so much about safety. 

WHO IS THIS GIRL??  And why is she there????  I am hard pressed to believe that even MLT is cool with random kids just strutting around playing on the UB rigs in the middle of the elite workout. 

But then again, Mary Lee also lets Sophie Lee just chill on the spotting block WHILE she's spotting, so who the fuck knows.  Someone is going to break here; it's either going to be an elite or that dog. 

Lexie Lee does a few more 1/1 layout (???) dismounts, while Mary Lee tells her to "Feel the smoothness down there!"

Lexie Lee and I have the same face right now.

This is what being coached by Mary Lee Tracy on vault looks like.  MLT tries to harass Amelia for not really knowing the answers to her questions, but that sassy Meals gives it right back to her.  It's still tiring to hear Mary Lee constantly question her athletes' ability to learn things. 

Clock Dad explains to MLT that he'll have to send out for a new power supply in order to save the busted clock.  Mary Lee looks alternately relieved and horrified.  Thrilled that the piece of shit clock can be saved, but how will she time bathroom breaks now??

The most interesting part of the episode belongs to Dominic Zito running Amelia through her new FX.  I'll let you all come up with your own opinions of the routine.  I will say that I am impressed with Zito's attempt to choreograph different intricacies into his routines, redundant as they might become when we see them on every single nation team girl in the upcoming years.  Amelia's performance seems to be half Lobaznyuk- half Memmel.  The quality of music is very 1995 America's Best, so one hopes that maybe they just needed a MIDI version for this show. 

The best part is watching 800,000 rec kids pack into the floor area.  Some kids are doing forward rolls on the tumble track because, hell, why not? 

We wrap up with Mary Lee's promised lunchtime treat for Poof, presented by Lexie Lee Tracy. 

It appears to be a shoddy piece of cake, but as our cameraman points out as the camera fades,

"It's probably a dog treat for Sophie."

He said it, not me.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Beyond the Routine: Emotinal Roughness

For your enjoyment, part two of our delicious Mary Lee Tracy/Miller saga.  We pick up right where we left off last week, with Mary Lee having a meltdown because her busted old digital wall clock stopped working.

This whole gym is a lesson in investment.  It's clear that nothing has been upgraded since 1996, and it shows in her athletes' performances as well as their injuries.  But who cares about upgrading mats when the precious wall clock is broken?!  (A source tells us the Coke machine is also continually busted.)

Our best friend Uncle Tim points out that no less than three different types of tape have been used in order to preserve the valuable clock.  Mary Lee is super stressed out about the loss of the clock, because how else will the girls know how long they have to go to the bathroom?

MLT lines up her cattle, and pulls Lexie/Sophie Lee to the front for "Quote of the Day."  Apparently they have one every day, and Mary Lee sent this one to Lexie the night before.

Lexie reads some generic quote about attitudes and flat tires, and Mary Lee insists that she explain the quote's true meaning.  There is a recurring theme where MLT tries to be a teacher of many things outside the rhelm of gymnastics.  Mary Lee explains that this is a great opportunity for the girls to get some public speaking experience, because that is very important in the world of elite gymnastics.

We're treated to some footage of tumbling practice, which is the actual awesome part of the show.  It's fascinating to watch elite training in any gym, really.  We see Lexie training her new super difficult passes.  Now, one might think that it takes physical preparation and training in order to perform a double-double on floor.  You would be incorrect.  Mary Lee hollers at Human Sophie Lee to "USE YOUR MIND!" to get that tricky skill around.

Lexie is followed up by Nice Toepointy Girl, who sits her layout-layout pass.

She asks if she can do it again, but Mary Lee takes the opportunity to make her feel like shit instead, and reminds her and everyone else that you only get one chance in gymnastics/life.

Lexie Lee Tracy does a somewhat open, but obvious IMO, double tuck that MLT has beef with.  What Mary Lee says seems to make sense, that it doesn't matter what skill you choose, just do it well and with intention.  She just seems so much kinder to Lexie than anyone else in the gym.  She calmly asks Lexie when she switched the double pike to a double tuck, and Lexie responds with "Since verification."  Read: Martha had me change it.  Mary Lee just loves that, I'm sure.  She explains that 16 year olds will be 16 year olds, and Lexie can do whatever she wants.  I wonder if she'll share that same attitude with Amelia/Phoebe Lee Tracy...

We revisit the clock saga, this time with Mary Lee's sister attempting to fix the ancient piece of shit.  MLT points out that her sister is lazy and sits down all day behind a desk and computer, so the mere THOUGHT of her standing on her feet to fix a dumb old clock is laughable.

Poor Pixie faceplants a double pike, and immediately shows dread all over her face.  However, she calmly stands and listens to Courtney give her some undecipherable corrections.

At least Courtney attempts to actually coach her, albeit while seemingly saluting Hilter with a cross behind her.  The irony is not lost on me.  MLT just yells at Pixie to get the fuck off of her cheap floor, and is demoted to the tumble tramp.

Mary Lee launches into a rant about her "wannabe elites" and how, while they're not "crybabies" per se, they do cry 100% of the time and MLT's fucking sick of it.  She explains that the only reason to cry is if you're hurt.

You would know, wouldn't you Mary Lee?  She makes a good point about controlling emotions when necessary, but damned if she's not making every poor child's meltdowns worse.  But Dr. Lee Tracy's theme for the day is EMOTIONAL TOUGHNESS, so there shan't be a missed opportunity to teach!

Dr. Lee Tracy reminds Pixie of their last sports psych class, which is seemingly taught by Mary Lee herself, and their discussion of fear of failure.  A sign of a great teacher is one who needs to tell her student that she "doesn't learn anything."  Whose fault is that, Doctor?

Mary Lee starts to give us muddled feedback regarding crying in the gym.  She admits her "best kid" is a huge crier, but it's ok because that's just how she's wired.

"Some of these kids are mentally tough, some of them are emotionally tough.  Some of them are mentally tough."

Mary Lee pearls of wisdom, folks.

Dr. Lee Tracy is not done with Pixie yet.  She brings over a friend to further humiliate the poor kid.

Taking a small respite from the crying theme, we watch Amelia work on UB for awhile.  I'm starting to realize that I kind of love her.  If not for her gymnastics, then for her WTF face and her ability to give zero fucks about the awful things Mary Lee is spouting at her.

Amelia is working on stalder tkatchevs, and doesn't even need her coach's help to know what she's doing wrong.  That doesn't stop Mary Lee from trying to tell her, which just ends up in her parroting what Amelia just said.

Well no shit.  That's what she just said!  Mary Lee continues to spout some shit, but Amelia just offers her WTF face.

MLT asks Amelia how many more connections she wants to do, and "Meals" cheekily answers "One."  She has a hidden chutzpah, and I enjoy it.

Speaking of "Meals," we learn how Amelia was given her nickname.

Mary Lee is not impressed.  Amelia tries to throw in that it's also sort of connected to her real name, but MLT cuts her off and explains that when the team used to go out to eat (sure) Amelia would eat off of everyone else's plates (as if they had their own,) hence the name. Then Mary Lee smacks the shit out of her.

Now it's time to focus on the juniors again.  Mary Lee is submitting their skills in order to get them into the national team developmental camps.  Now, some gyms have fancy technology like video cameras and screens for replays.  Not CGA.  Mary Lee busts out the star of the the first episode, her trusty iPhone.

That frees up some money so that she can get her clock fixed.  Pixie is about to take her turn, and Mary Lee screams at her to concentrate.  It appears that Pixie does, but we'll never know because immediately after telling her to concentrate, MLT interrupts her to reiterate the concept of hitting under pressure. 

Pixie eventually gets to take her turn, and does fairly well.  Mary Lee doesn't say as much, but she doesn't tear Pixie a new one.  Poor Pixie doesn't even know what to do with semi-positive feedback.  She attempts a smile.

Monday's training is FINALLY over, and Mary Lee runs down the day's events with faithful Courtney McCool by her side.

Lexie didn't cry, so there's that.  Amelia did nothing great at all, and it's super awesome that Mary Lee felt the need to point that out in front of the group.

And then Poof gets hailed for crying.  Because it's a good thing if certain girls cry, it's horrible and a sign of terrible weakness if others do it.

"Sometimes it's ok to let it out.  And then other people... you can't let it out so much."

So there you have it.  Were you able to keep up?  Because I had a tough time, what with trying to keep track of who's allowed to express emotion and who is not.  Maybe next week's "Sports Psych" class taught by Dr. Lee Tracy will help us understand further.

Friday, January 25, 2013

America's First Gymnastics Reality Show: Beyond the Routine

Gymternet, we have been given a gift.  A weekly gift given to us by Gymnastike, called Beyond the Routine.  BTR features the one and only Mary Lee Tracy, and her supreme role as queen at Cincinnati Gymnastics.  We all have our own opinions of MLT and her wacky ways, whether we associate her with Amanda Borden and Jaycie Phelps, or perhaps more of the Morgan White "Oh My God Oh My God" era.  Now she brings us her two latest prized pigs, Lexie Preissman and Amelia Hundley, who bring "the fire again" in her. 

"This is the first time I really feel that fire again, because I have two kids that they wanna make the Olympics.  They WANT.  The other kids, they were like, too afraid to set that goal.  I mean, this is the first time I feel since Morgan White where I really have two kids that are on a mission to make this next Olympic team.  And they're not afraid to say it.  And I'm not afraid to say that I'm going to do everything I can, whatever it takes, because I've got two kids who are willing to do the same."

So really, FU to the plethora of elites that she's had since 2000.

Priess, Whitcomb, Jetter, Williams, Brown, Beucler, Flohr, Johnson, Mauro- all worthless crap.  Moceanu, Thompson, Beckerman- you just didn't WANT the Olympics enough. 

That's just the trailer to our weekly series of unintentional comedic gold.  Gym fans have been clamoring for years for an American gymnastics reality show.  We've got one now, and Mary Lee Tracy is a star.  She is THE star.  She is the Abby Lee Miller of elite gymnastics.

Beyond the Routine wastes no time with fancy credits or opening theme songs.  We begin straight away with Mary Lee in her kitchen, as she introduces us to her dog children.

MLT has two dogs: Phoebe Lee Tracy, who is seen one time and never again.  It's explained immediately that Phoebe Lee Tracy is big and thus has to stay home and fend for herself all day, alone.  That's what you get for being too big.  But forget about old Phoebe.  The real focus is Sophie Lee Tracy.  Tiny and cute, just like all dogs/girls should be!  Sophie Lee Tracy is adorable and precious, and gets special treats because she "has issues," which happens to be epilepsy.  But don't feel too sorry for Sophie Lee.  Because she is just so bitty and special, Sophie Lee gets to travel with Mary Lee EVERYWHERE.  But not before getting dressed, obviously.

Mary Lee goes into great detail about the many outfits that Sophie Lee has, and how what Sophie Lee wears is entirely dependent on what she wears.  On this day, it's a matching Cincinnati Gymnastics Sue Sylvester track suit. 

It cannot be left unsaid that Mary Lee Tracy has no less than four wine bottles sitting on her kitchen counter.

Once Sophie Lee Tracy is dressed, Mary Lee says peace out to the other dog, and watches as her dear sweet Sophie Lee jumps into the car for their ride to the gym.

What should be a simple ride to the gym is easily the most interesting part of the show.  MLT's first priority is playing a "Faith Song" that helps her mentally prepare for her day with these emotionally unstable teenage girls.

So many safety violations.  First of all, the dog is on her lap.  Second of all, that phone.  Make note of the timestamp.  3:16 is when she first picks up the phone in a vain attempt to find her Faith Song.

The interviewer asks her about her best memories, her worst memories, etc.  That's all well and good, but clearly her focus is on her iPhone.

There is nothing that terrifies me more than teenage girls who mess with their phones while driving.  Every time I have seen something dumb done on the road, it's because some teenage girl is distracted by her phone.  Every. Single. Time.

This time, it's a middle aged woman as opposed to naive teenage girl. 

Mary Lee just keeps messing with her phone, driving, terrifying poor Sophie Lee while discussing how hard it was for her to admit to Martha that Morgan White was injured in Sydney.  All that is an afterthought to her endless pursuit of her Faith Song. 

Notice that we're closing in on a solid minute and a half of Mary Lee playing with her phone while driving.  Not to be an old lady PSA ad, but even glancing down at your phone will get you tagged in the great state of Minnesota.

Finally, about a 1:45 later, MLT finally gives up on sharing her Faith Song with us all.  We'll never know if the interviewer was treated to the song.

Only after she gives up on her phone does she share with us that she, the woman who NEVER breaks her gymnasts, simply HATES injuries.  As opposed to the coaches who just love injuries.

Mary Lee finally rolls up to the gym.  Some poor girl experiences that awkward moment where she walks in at the same time as her coach, and doesn't know whether she should go in, or let the Queen in first.

The younger girls all seem to glare at Mary Lee with this terror in their eyes.  It's unmistakable.

After MLT shows us her office and explains her theme of the week, "DESIRE," she makes her way into the gym to watch a little bit of Monday conditioning. 

These girls seriously stop whatever they're doing, and just stare at Mary Lee until she passes them by.  As an internet viewer, I can FEEL the tension that these poor girls must experience whenever in the Queen's presence.

Given that the girls have had an entire day off, MLT needs to survey the scene and see what shape her kids are in.  This is one of many references to how emotionally unstable her team seems to be.

THE DOG IS ON THE FLOOR.  I can't even.  I've heard rumors about the quality of MLT's equipment, namely the FX mat.  She lets her dog on the floor.  That just about sums it up for me.

Now it's finally time for some real conditioning.  Mary Lee explains her methods, and basically why she invented conditioning.  She has some good drills, but is very condescending when speaking to her girls.  After doing a set of drills on beam, she decides no one performed them to her liking, so they have to start over.

While I appreciate that she attempts to explain her methods to her girls, she just could not speak down to them any more than she does.  Are these teenage girls, or are these brand new L5s?  I understand that some of the girls are "wannabe elites," but the older girls like Amelia probably understand how to do a press handstand without you berating them.

The real outlet for Mary Lee's rage seems to be this young girl, appropriately named Pixie.

We're introduced to Miss Courtney McCool as she explains her role as Mary Lee's assistant.  According to Courtney, she is there to work on elegance, grace, form, technique, knees, toes, and "bar dance."  Your guess is as good as mine.

Unless she means barre dance, which is a stretch because CGI doesn't seem like they spend a ton of time at the barre, if you know what I mean.  Courtney is also in charge of the juniors, one who does a double turn smack into McCool's chest.  Courtney is not impressed.

Some of Courtney's work must be paying off, because some of the juniors do have lovely knees and toes.  This one, who goes unnamed, is ridden mercilessly by MLT while she conditions.

Like her teammates, she's visibly terrified by MLT's presence and critique. 

This leads us into the next episode's theme, which is MENTAL TOUGHNESS.  Mary Lee's girls cry.  A lot.  Is that OK?  Is it not OK?  Is crying terrible and weak for some girls but expressive and meaningful for others?  We'll find out in the next episode!