By: Amanda Anderson-Niles
Gabby Douglas might have stolen most people’s hearts when she won the gold twice in the 2012 Summer Olympics and made history, but it seems like there are some salty people at her own gym in Virginia where she originally trained before leaving to train with her current coach. And I’m sure it’s because of some recent comments Gabby made regarding her former gym, when she was asked about the struggles she endured to become an Olympic champion. In her recent sit down interview with Oprah Winfrey, Gabby (who now wants to be go by Gabrielle) revealed that she had been bullied and made an outcast by her former teammates while she trained in Virginia. She even said she had to endure racism at the hands of some of the girls she trained with, and it was to the point that she usually went home in tears after practice. And it was this terrible treatment that played such a huge part in her journey to Iowa, a situation that required her to leave her family to live with another, and train with current coach.
It was only a matter of time before the former gym responded. In fact, a couple of the other gymnasts decided to call her out. And their responses were…interesting.
Here’s what Randy Stageburg, a former Senior International Elite and National Team member had to say:
This is absolutely ridiculous. I trained at Excalibur gymnastics for 8 years and I personally trained with gabby for 2 of those years. 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, 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 and I can assure you everyone at some point has felt bullied.
I never once heard her complain about girls being mean, funny how it is just now coming up. Also, not only does she owe the gym thousands of dollars 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. 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 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 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.
And Kristina Coccia (aka Sharky), a former Senior International Elite who trained at Parkettes:
I’ve had the pleasure of knowing the Excalibur coaches for many years- never once would I question their coaching or love for their athletes. In fact, Dena and Jim were the first coaches to congratulate other athletes, as well as their own. I couldn’t agree more with Randy Stageburg. While I wasn’t personally coached by Jim, Dena or Gustavo- what Gabby is saying makes me sick. I know numerous gymnasts who experienced nothing but fantastic memories from Excalibur. Pay back the money you owe, stop playing the victim and respect the coaches who got you to the Elite level. Because the Excalibur family is one that I personally remember during my career. This entire story makes me sick sometimes.
Perhaps it’s just me, but maybe it would have been a little smarter to respond in a much classier and non hostile way, especially if you’ve been accused of racism and bullying.
In related news, Gabby recently sat down with Vanity Fair, and said those same girls even stole her clothes out her locker one day and told her she should get a nose job.
Regarding the clothes being stolen she says, “You don’t actually take by mistake someone’s clothes.”