Former gymnast reacts to the Nassar sexual abuse trial

February 6, 2018

In the wake of the criminal sentencing of former USA Gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, female athletes in many sports reflect on the past weeks in shock and sheer anguish. An immense weight and anxiety is felt by these women nationwide as a result of this scandal; these athletes unconsciously associate this with their own relationships between player and trainer. It hits home by adding a new element of skepticism and fear to the relationship.


"I'm not a gymnast," said Amelia Greaves, freshman soccer player at Palm Beach Atlantic University. "But I am a female athlete and hearing about the Nassar case irks me."


Yet, even more so than other athletes, gymnasts feel this weight to another degree. With 265 alleged sexual assault instances, Nassar abused his authority as a doctor and used his position to justify his actions. He abused his titles, his fame and his reputation to legitimize his horrendous crimes.


"I was weary of telling people I was a gymnast," said retired gymnast Cali Schilling, a freshman at PBA. "It is horrible and I feel for every girl involved, but it doesn't change the way I view gymnastics."


The gymnastics world has certainly been shaken. With news of Nassar's assaults stretching back to his time at Michigan State University, the athletes affected are experiencing heartbreak and an unparalleled break of trust. Athletes have been shown that even those most qualified, most renowned and most trusted can be monsters.  


Schilling knew Larry Nassar. Even down to her competitive level, people praised and adored Nassar for his talents. She met him in person, friended him on Facebook and even followed him on Instagram.

"He was totally talked up," Schilling remarked about Nassar with a look of fear, anger and heartbreak muddled into one expression.


The other element of this scandal is the lack of action from USA Gymnastics and the other organizations involved in this case. He was charged with misconduct at USA Gymnastics, Michigan State University and Twisters, a local gym Nassar used to work at. The question athletes affected and athletes following the case are asking is how Nassar was able to get away with these actions for so many years?


Former USA gymnast Aly Raisman described USA Gymnastics as "rotting from the inside" during her impact statement at Nassar's hearing. With pressure rising for answers and actions, the members of the board of USA Gymnastics resigned as the allegations against Nassar grew. Yet the question about why that board did nothing is still unknown.


"With this whole scandal, everyone is like 'oh, gymnastics is bad now,'" Schilling commented. "But it is still a great sport, and I still love the sport."


The question now is what will the interim board, announced in February, do in response to the scandal, and how will this affect the National Olympic team? Cali Schilling will continue to advocate for the sport she loves but fight against predators like Nassar.


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