Beckerman speaks out about UCLA/Val

JBS

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And the rest...

After I dislocated my kneecap at an away meet in Michigan, I had knee surgery, and she took steps to ensure that I would be pushed out. She would always have a limited budget in who could travel with the team. Those that traveled would “earn it” over others. So, naturally I wasn’t worthy. I paid my way to sit in the stands and watch my team at NCAA’s. On crutches. By the end of the year, she told the team not to talk to me. My own roommates wouldn’t talk to me either. I was depressed and alone. I rehabbed my knee at school. By the end of the year, she told me she would not be renewing my scholarship. She would wait and see how I looked in the fall. At first I was training at Woodward west. But after being warned that Miss Val was checking in on me, not in a good way, I flew home and trained in New Jersey. It was there, isolated from that environment, I was able to truly enjoy gymnastics again. At the end of the summer, a few days before flying back to LA, I got a call from the teammate I was supposed to be getting an apartment with, saying that Miss Val told her she couldn’t room with me. When I flew back for pre-season, I had nowhere to live. Thankfully, my great aunt took me in at the last minute until I could find a single apartment. This all happened while I was “trying out” for the team again. I was doing half routines on bars, I was tumbling and I was vaulting again. I felt good about my training. I should have known that none of it mattered.
I walked into my meeting with Miss Val and Chris Waller was there as well. Miss Val said they’ve decided not to renew my scholarship. I said I had demonstrated half routines already and that I was much stronger, etc. She waited until I was done and said, “Well, I guess we’re just... agreeing to disagree,” she said with relish, melodically ending on a high note. I got quiet after that. It was right then, that I realized how long she had held onto that grudge from that meeting. I remember her keenly watching my face for that realization to happen. Chris was new to UCLA as a coach, and was not present for that freshman year meeting, so he had no idea what significance that statement held. As I stayed quiet, various things flitted through my mind. I remembered in the past, hearing how Miss Val would brag about how other girls sobbed and begged when they were kicked off the team. I swore to myself right then that I wouldn’t give her that satisfaction. I remained quiet. Miss Val eventually asked, “Well, do you have anything to say to me? Like F-you or thank you?” I couldn’t believe it. This was how she was ending my entire career. She was also inviting me to curse her out, which was really odd, and I thought maybe she thinks I’ll take the bait. So after some thought, I took a shaking breath and said, “No I’m pretty neutral right now. The f-you side of me would say, talk to my lawyer, and the thank you side of me would say thank you for the three years prior.” Then I walked out and quietly went to pieces in the hallway.
It was too late to transfer at this point. It was late September of my senior year. She wouldn’t just let me finish out my senior year with the team. Not even as support. This was my punishment. She ended my career on her terms, with disrespect and an F-you, all for the sake of her own petty vendetta.

Today, I find it quite amazing how she can now blog about the horrors of Martha ostracizing teammates. I have to give her credit here. Miss Val certainly knows which way the wind is blowing. Same thing with 9/11. A very useful PR tool, until it wasn’t. And back when I was first finding my voice, speaking out about abusive coaching on that New Year’s Eve, the code of silencing athletes to protect fellow coaches and USAG was still the rule of the day. From my perspective, the goal of her methods were to shut me up and shut me down. Maybe she thought I’d be so miserable that I’d just go die somewhere quietly. But I’m still here Miss Val, and you can’t erase me. Teaming up again with Mary Lee won’t work anymore either. It only tells me you are still a bully, using provocation as a form of control.

This is an example of the handiwork when adult coaches make psychologically unsound choices on behalf of their own egos. It was never about the athlete. It had zero to do with gymnastics. Neither of these women actually cared about what their self serving agendas would do to me as a human being. The real sad part is, no matter how messed up the situation gets, there’s always that part of the athlete that wants their coach to approve of them. This really messes a gymnast up, because abusive coaching will lead you to believe that your successes or failures directly reflect your worth as a person. I was lucky that I had a small circle of teammates on the fringe that understood, and said out loud, what we went through was abuse. They were my lifeline. They still are. I was lucky to have a supportive family, and supportive coaches from earlier in my career that reminded me they were proud, and that I was not the problem. It has taken me many years, only until recently, to decide to give that notion any credence.
 
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AV24

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Katelyn Ohashi was the one who had to tell Miss Val to back off of Kyla about her weight. I’ve heard both of them talk about that moment on podcasts. It always rubbed me the wrong way. There was Miss Val saying how she’s changed and how she feels terrible about weighing girls in the past because no one knew better, but in the same breath she was admitting how much Kyla’s weight gain bothered her and how she hounded Kyla to lose weight to the point that another gymnast had to step in. It felt very hypocritical.
 

cmg

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Bottom line, good supportive coaches are hard to find in any sport. When I was running in college our coach had our body fat percentage measured. I think the intent was to get more information for us as runners to work towards a leaner body. He did not harass us everyday about our weight if we were not at a certain percentage, but certainly we understood he wanted all of us to lose weight. In running there is no question that the leaner you are the easier it is to run fast, at least to a certain point, however athletes need to make their own decisions and if coaches want athletes to lean out for their sport they should provide an unbiased nutritionist for their athletes, not yell or talk about weight either to their face or behind their backs and let the rumors create a caustic environment. Running is hard on your body and there is certainly a fine line between just right and too thin so that injuries and bone damage occur. We have heard many stories about many female runners losing too much weight and then entering into a long string of injuries. I would think by now coaches would just let their athletes be themselves. It was not like Kyla was not performing at her current weight. Personally I thought she looked beautiful and was glad that she was doing so well so that she showed the world you didn't need to be stick thin in order to win. I think coaches need to change their ideals of the perfect female athlete and let girls and women deal with their bodies themselves or with the help of professionals, not the coach.

The issue comes into play when a coach thinks an athlete is not performing up to their potential with a heavier (at least in their mind) body. That was certainly not the case with Kyla. I have seen many college runners have a so-so spring season, go home for the summer, lose 10-15 pounds and then have an awesome fall season, but then if they don't fuel their bodies properly get injury after injury and wonder why. The problem is that at lower body weight especially with runners, at first you do perform better and then people start thinking, well if I am doing so much better losing 10 pounds, what if I lost 15? It is a vicious cycle. I am disappointed to hear that Miss V fell into that trap of assuming an athlete could perform better at a lower weight. As people have said she was supposed to be a safe haven for all the elites who got abused one way or another. I don't know what the answer is, but I keep going back to USAG giving lots of training and emotional support for its coaches and athletes.
 

gymjunkie

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it has been talked about for years ... and Val has always portrayed herself as the savior of all the broken elites ... blind obedience that almost seemed cult like ( as do many of the NCAA teams ) but UCLA was always so visible , almost in your face in their manner of marketing their team so to hear that Val ruled with an iron fist , and mean behavior, is not surprising in the least .... and in Val’s supposed “apology tweet” ( that does nothing but victim blame, but I digress...) , she basically admits she did it and the tone of the tweet Is “ and whatcha gonna do about it, b****?”...
What is the apology tweet being referred to?
 

bookworm

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Oh right the non apology tweet. Yes, Alyssa too bad you weren’t fortunate enough I wasn’t your coach in the last decade.
And even in the last 10 years she was nasty....Ohashi has to tell her to back off Ross because Val "couldn't stand her weight gain " , where she grew several inches, and got boobs or as regular folks call it, puberty. No Val she wasn't the pre pubescent waif like body that hit her "peak" at the Olympics at 15 when she arrived at UCLA ....so Alyssa's nightmare likely would have happened even now because if Val was riding Ross who was getting numerous 9.975s and 10s, no one was safe.
 

TumbleTimes4

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It’s still a little surprising to me that Ohashi supports Miss Val after all the body shaming she went through in elite. Looks like her comments about Kyla would have been red flags to someone with a past like Ohashi’s.
 
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Ppgmom

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Not just NCAA/Elite but regular old JO is also full of abuse.
[/QUOTE

An article came out about raising the age limit for Olympics . The reasoning was if the are older they have a better idea of what is wrong and are less accepting of the behavior and more likely to speak out.

I read it to DD and she didn't even look up "won't help" was all I got . I asked why and she said "Look at what happened to me a 7 year old L3, it starts at the beginning, that's where they need to early ...in JO...in Compulsory.Thwy trained us it was normal and you aren't supposed to talk about it"
 

gymjunkie

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Had a recent conversation with a sports med doctor who is a former JO & NCAA gymnast about all of the emotional abuse stories coming out. She is about 20 years younger than I am. We both have the same reaction to these stories which is that you would be hard-pressed to find a high-level gymnast who was not subjected to abusive techniques. This is because what is now beginning to be called abusive coaching was previously just called "gymnastics coaching" (JO level/elite/NCAA). There is a phenomenon called Stockholm Syndrome that occurs which is why many of us protect our abusers and/or give them credit for all of the good they did. Or we acknowledge the abuse, but say that if it hadn't been for those techniques "I never would've made it as far as I did." There is also peer pressure. You might be the one person who speaks out or wants to speak out, but your former teammates turn on you (because the "Stockholming" was more effective on them). Amazingly the environment that was created when you were young can still be effective in silencing you decades later. A few years
ago, I left a coaching position at a prominent gym where many gymnasts were experiencing emotional abuse. It wasn't obvious emotional abuse (no yelling and screaming). It always took place quietly in a private corner or in the office. The coaches had a big smile on their faces (for the parents in the balcony) as they destroyed children on a daily basis with words spoken in a low volume. Not too many families switched gyms because it was well-known that this gym was a walk in the park compared to the "really abusive" gyms in the metro area. Some families had already transferred from those gyms. There were some nice gyms too, but they never really managed to get kids past L7 or 8, so those weren't options for the kids who had already surpassed those levels or who were rising so quickly they would soon be there. There are usually also some genuinely nice, healthy coaches mixed in at the abusive gyms, so some kids stayed for the good coaches even if they were only able to work with them infrequently. The kids who were experiencing the worst of it almost always had parents who posted the most positive statements about the gym/coaches on their social media accounts. I think they desperately hoped their positive public support would result in better treatment for their kids. I never saw that happen. When kids complained to their parents and the parent called a meeting, coaches then took it out on the kid in subsequent practices. The kids quickly learned to keep secrets from their parents.

The research I try to do on a potential coach/gym before sending a kid there and/or taking a job there is to try to find out "what makes that person want to coach children?" There are many good reasons to want to coach children, but for too many coaches/owners it's a sick need to dominate... no different than that of a rapist (and as we all know some of them are also rapists). Through coaching they found an honorable-looking way to act on their sick personality. Too bad you often can't see their sickness right away or don't have the benefit of hearing from their former athletes/employees prior to making a gym choice.
 

ladybird

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The below is so true! The abuse is occurring and the good coaches are running interference. Eventually the good coaches can’t take it any more and leave knowing they are leaving these girls behind to fend for themselves. So glad we were able to leave the situation we were in!

It wasn't obvious emotional abuse (no yelling and screaming). It always took place quietly in a private corner or in the office. The coaches had a big smile on their faces (for the parents in the balcony) as they destroyed children on a daily basis with words spoken in a low volume.

There are usually also some genuinely nice, healthy coaches mixed in at the abusive gyms, so some kids stayed for the good coaches even if they were only able to work with them infrequently. The kids who were experiencing the worst of it almost always had parents who posted the most positive statements about the gym/coaches on their social media accounts. I think they desperately hoped their positive public support would result in better treatment for their kids. I never saw that happen. When kids complained to their parents and the parent called a meeting, coaches then took it out on the kid in subsequent practices. The kids quickly learned to keep secrets from their parents.
 

ldw4mlo

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As someone who lived far to long with an emotional abuser. its perspective/degrees.

If you go from say being abused 6 days a week to 3. Your brain thinks it’s better.
because y is not as bad as x. And C is better then B.

Abuse is abuse. None is acceptable. Period.
 
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