Dear Intown Stars Gymnastics Families and Friends; Mon, Feb 05, 2018
I would like to take the lead on discussing recent events involving Larry Nassar that you may have read about in various mainstream print publications, or seen the coverage on TV about the conviction of Larry Nassar, and sexual misconduct in the sport of gymnastics. It has been the lead story on NPR recently and coverage has been on CNN and ESPN repeatedly. With all that has become known throughout the trial, the term “sexual misconduct” seems totally inadequate when talking about Larry Nassar. I have intentionally dropped the title of Doctor as this man is an extremely sick, disturbed monster, who did untold psychological and physical damage to hundreds of girls and young women, and did not do so in the capacity of a Doctor who has taken an oath to do no harm.
The stories of abuse are profoundly disturbing in and of themselves, but what makes it even more unsettling for us as parents (and frankly, as human beings), is how this conduct was ignored, dismissed, covered up and allowed to happen by so many other adults in power. It makes us ask ourselves, how rampant is sexual misconduct in the sport of gymnastics? The answer, I believe, is not as rampant as the recent press would lead you to believe. This particular situation with Larry Nassar was a terrifying example of how a sociopath who is in a place of power and authority over children, can hijack a system for his own gains. But in an environment, that, at its worst, objectifies elite athletes and exploits them to meet its own needs for power, a sociopathic predator is free to take full advantage. That is not the case in the vast majority of gymnastics clubs.
I love, live and breathe the sport of gymnastics. To me it is the embodiment of beauty, grace, strength and joy. For the last five years I’ve had the privilege of sharing that love with our community, and also with my own children. My two boys, Roman, 10, and Gabriel, 8, are on our competitive boys team at Intown Stars. Whatever I create at our gym, is what I create for them.
So my promise to you is that I take the well-being of your child very seriously. There is no stronger way I can word it - I would never allow any coach to mentor your child who I would not allow to mentor my own children.
In my years of experience in the sport of gymnastics, as a gymnast, a coach, a parent and as a gym owner, I have come to know countless coaches and officials, and the overwhelming majority are dedicated to the well-being of the children in our sport. Unfortunately, the heartbreaking and unbelievable acts perpetrated by Larry Nassar are overshadowing all the positivity that the sport of gymnastics has brought and continues to bring to hundreds of thousands of young children across the United States daily. While I cannot speak out against his malicious acts strongly enough, I do want to inform you of the many steps we take at Intown Stars, to keep your children safe.
All of our coaches are USAG certified. In order to be USAG certified, they must have a background check. Each and every one of our coaches at Intown Stars have had this background check completed and have passed.
I personally check at least 2 professional and personal references for each person I hire, check their social media outlets, and monitor them closely throughout their tenure with us.
We want you to know that at Intown Stars, we remain keenly aware that sexual predators do exist in this world and that they come in all shapes and sizes. We strongly believe that the best protection is sound policies and constant vigilance and the courage to act in the face of suspicious behavior. I think just like you when it comes to the safety of your child. If ever you see suspicious or questionable behavior anywhere at Intown Stars, please, please immediately contact me about your concerns. I count on parents to give me feedback about what you see, how you feel about what you see, how your children feel, and what their experience is like.
You will find a “Safe Sport” pdf document attached to this email. This document comes from the Intown Stars Gymnastics Staff Onboarding and Training manual. Until now, this information was used only internally for employee training but considering the recent events we thought you would like to know how we think and what we are doing to keep your children safe.
We intentionally create space for parents to be in proximity to the classes and teams as they practice. We don’t hide parents behind walls and plexiglass. On the contrary, We want total transparency in what we provide, and who provides it. My philosophy, and what I make clear to all of our staff, is that coaches are more accountable and teach a better class, when parents can see what they are doing.
Thank you for allowing us to address this sensitive topic and thank you for your trust in us. Together, we will continue to dedicate ourselves and our staff to make Intown Stars a safe place for your child to enjoy all the positive benefits of the amazing sport of gymnastics.
Sincerely, and in gratitude,
Anna Robinson, Owner/Founder