WAG Evaluation of Tom Forster

gym_dad32608

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Idk if folks have been following Worlds and the results there. Just scrolling through twitter today and there seems to be a vigorous discussion about the US program and where it is heading. I honestly don't know and was wondering other folks' thoughts on it. If I could tease some of the commentaries, it seems like there is concern that USAG could only muster 6 gymnasts to evaluate to send to worlds, the subsequent results coming off the heels of the Olympic results and a general sense that the "pipeline" is rather lacking new gymnasts. Some seem to feel that the pendulum has swung too far away from the Karolyi mindset to the "feelings are most import" side at the expense of results. I will readily say that this is an area I am not very knowledgeable in (program development of world/olympic athletes). I have had interactions with Tom and he seems pleasant enough, definitely athlete-centric. I did disagree with his selection of olympic team (well documented here lol) but that is really independent of program development. He has been on the job for 3 years now. Is this much ado about nothing? Or is he not the right man for the job. 3 years is enough time to have an honest evaluation. What should be done, if anything to improve?
 

gymjunkie

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The Karolyi mindset was flat-out abuse. No the pendulum has not swung too far in the other direction & we are hardly free of the Karolyi mindset. What exactly makes you think that Tom's lack of success might be related to an "emphasis on feelings?"
 

rlm's mom

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I don't know the set-up or the hierarchy of USAG - this is just the impression I get. Why do we have to have one main leader of USAG? They say 2 head are better than one. I wonder if USAG as a whole would be better if there was a committee of 3-4 ppl working together at the top. My impression of the set-up now is that Tom is in charge with committees below him. We seem to always have problems with one overall head - Marta, Valerie, Tom... Every person has their own extremities but if a few would work together they would balance each other out! Anyways I have no idea the workings of USAG so this a just a nice dream...
I think Tom made sensible choices who to take to worlds and who should do AA so round-of-applause to him!
 

gym_dad32608

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The Karolyi mindset was flat-out abuse. No the pendulum has not swung too far in the other direction & we are hardly free of the Karolyi mindset. What exactly makes you think that Tom's lack of success might be related to an "emphasis on feelings?"
I dont have anything that I "think" is the cause of the lack of success in the program. The results are there for sure, like for any coach, football, basketball, etc. fair or not, the results have happened during his watch. That is why I posted it here for a discussion from individuals that more closely follow these types of things. Here is a link to some of the twitter discussions: Twitter discussion. Idk, is the program just fine? Is Tom above criticism?
From the Tweet "The strategy has been to bank on Simone. Which isn’t a strategy. And now, without her, US finishes well behind Russia in Tokyo, leaves a worlds without a gold for first time since 2006 (when Chellsie and Nastia were injured) and fewest medals since 2002. Is culture better? Yes. But to quote Tom himself, “The athletes want to win. They don't work this hard not to win, but they don't want to win at any cost. … If they're valued for their efforts, and feel being treated well, but they're not winning, there's problem there”"
 

gym_dad32608

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Ya, I dont think anyone is advocating the win at all costs mindset. Kinda why I am asking, what should Tom be doing?
 

B&M's mom

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Unlike other countries who have a national team coached by the national team coaches, our team is decentralized. The athletes work at their own gyms with their own coaches. Tom really has no control over that. Yes, he can help mold coaches and oversee the development of the athletes but he can't mandate how they train or who pursues elite training. Lowering the standards to attract more gymnasts would probably be counterproductive as they would never score well in international competition. He has to work with what comes through the door. I don't know that there would have been a better group of athletes to send given the low numbers. Our system of athlete development is in flux and only time will tell whether we develop a system that meets the needs of the athletes first but also keeps us competitive on the international stage.
 

cp13

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Is there really a lack of gymnasts or did this Worlds just have weird timing? I recognize there were only 6 girls at the selection camp but I think this Worlds was just had weird timing because the Olympic were delayed a year. So, this quad had a lot of older girls that stayed around for an extra year. Now many of them are in college and therefore, not competing for a Worlds spot or some took breaks and didn't train through to this Worlds. I think there were some that are injured. I would assume competition for the national team will be as competitive as ever next summer. Now whether or not the team continues to have the same level of success that they did under the Karolyis is anyone's guess. I have a feeling the U.S will continue to be successful but probably not as dominant. We also do not know if some of the college girls will try to do elite and college. It wouldn't surprise me to see Suni Lee or Leanne trying to do elite again and go for another Worlds or Olympics.
 

gym_dad32608

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Idk, if there was a lack of gymnasts, or lack of desire of gymnasts to participate? Leanne is in college and chose to go, Kara Eaker is in college but didn't. Morgan Hurd, Chelsie Memmel, I know they are doing the golden thing but perhaps given their history with Tom they didn't want anything to do with it?
 
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skschlag

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Idk, if there was a lack of gymnasts, or lack of desire of gymnasts to participate? Leanne is in college and chose to go, Kara Eaker is in college but didn't. Morgan Hurd, Chelsie Memmel, I know they are doing the golden thing but perhaps given their history with Tom they didn't want anything to do with it?

Or maybe they are just tired from the extra year for the olympics, and needed a rest. Or they had already planned to start college, or stop training elite. This year has been tough in many many ways with the Olympics being delayed!
 

gym_dad32608

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Or maybe they are just tired from the extra year for the olympics, and needed a rest. Or they had already planned to start college, or stop training elite. This year has been tough in many many ways with the Olympics being delayed!
True, all possible explanations. When do you think Tom et.al. should be evaluated for the results that the program is producing? Or should he be evaluated/scrutinized at all? As long as the gymnasts are happy is that good enough? I sincerely ask, I really don't know. Given the previous administration, it is refreshing to see a much more athlete-centric program. Is that all we want from our national program?
 

HappyDDdriver

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Unlike other countries who have a national team coached by the national team coaches, our team is decentralized. The athletes work at their own gyms with their own coaches. Tom really has no control over that. Yes, he can help mold coaches and oversee the development of the athletes but he can't mandate how they train or who pursues elite training. Lowering the standards to attract more gymnasts would probably be counterproductive as they would never score well in international competition. He has to work with what comes through the door. I don't know that there would have been a better group of athletes to send given the low numbers. Our system of athlete development is in flux and only time will tell whether we develop a system that meets the needs of the athletes first but also keeps us competitive on the international stage.
I agree!! Interestingly, I believe they did lower the scores for elite qualification for 2022. Only time will tell if this helps bring more US gymnasts to the international stage and supports the situation we seem to be experiencing.
 

GYM0M

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I do not know why so many seniors declined the selection camp. I like Tom and he seems to be concerned with the gymnast and the gymnastics. Looking ahead to the next quad (tri), I promise there’s plenty of exceptional gymnasts coming up to fill the spots.
 

rlm's mom

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I do not know why so many seniors declined the selection camp. I like Tom and he seems to be concerned with the gymnast and the gymnastics. Looking ahead to the next quad (tri), I promise there’s plenty of exceptional gymnasts coming up to fill the spots.
Waiting to see your DD on the senior stage!
The only thing Tom can do is by national team camps put more effort into analysing routine constructions and pointing out obvious deductions to the coach etc.
 
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MuggleMom

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In some of the things I have read the main misgivings about Tom are lack of communication about how things will be done/decided both internally and externally. Some of the way things have been explained to the media leave a lot of room for debate about whether or not the right decision was made, how the decision was made etc. I think some athletes have also complained that they were not giving the direction and support other athletes were which led so some feeling like there were favorites etc that were better set up to succeed. I can not speak to whether any of these things are true or not this is just internet speculation based on news articles and twitter posts etc.

From what I have read and seen I am a bit lukewarm on him in general I think USAG has a long way to go to be both Athlete centered and successful and while Tom seems fine I am not sure he is dynamic enough to accomplish that and I think more fresh blood and thinking would be beneficial to the organization as a whole.
 

txgymfan

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Many people online are frustrated that much of the Old Guard, including coaches that have admitted to being less athlete centric are still coaching at the highest levels. Until that changes, parents won’t be convinced that true change has occurred.
 
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Flippin'A

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I just want to see more strategy employed by Tom (and USAG as a whole.) I don't think "athlete centered" has to translate to a lack of strategy when it comes to team selection as long as you outline to everyone ahead of time how you're going to be picking the team. I'd especially like to see someone consulting with individual coaches and gymnasts about routine construction to ensure that everyone has the most optimal routine possible. We've seen examples of poor routine construction rob gymnasts of potential medals, and we've seen quick restructuring of a routine turn out really well for Suni. Tom seems okay with sacrificing tenths, and I don't see how doing that is what's actually going to change the culture of USAG. It's possible to give your team the best possible chance of winning without using abusive practices.
 

twocurlygirlz

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I think a re-evaluation of the elite and DP program is necessary. I think we could have a much larger pool of potentially successful gymnasts available and willing to represent the US if the pool was open to DP or if there was just one track. The DP code is also open ended and skill development, strength etc. could all be incorporated. I think the dual track system is what is going to set us behind the world stage if we continue to utilize it.
 

gym_dad32608

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I realize that everyone just shows up to the team camps once a month, gets some feedback and goes back to their home gym with their primary coaches, but I wonder if there is more that could be done to foster a sense of shared responsibility in the program and the athletes. I know this is kinda intangible, but that feeling that you are part of something more. The pride and desire to want to go further for the program. Perhaps this is some of the residual distrust from the Karolyi's where gymnasts/families are staying "arm's length" from going all-in.
 
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mommyof1

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I can't imagine how any elite gymnast or her family could possibly be anything but all in. Are you actually saying that the gymnasts are not sufficiently motivated to do their best?