Friday, July 14, 2006

Coaches Torturing Gymnists? [J. Mark English]

LONGWOOD, Fla. -- Two coaches at a local gym could face criminal charges for harming young athletes. Seminole County investigators said the coaches used drywall screws to discipline gymnasts.
One of the coaches admits to stabbing training gymnasts with drywall screws for years. Investigators said it happened at Ace Gymnastics in Longwood, where one of the owners is an Olympian.
The phrase "stick it" is used in gymnastics about dismounts and landings, but one of the coaches told investigators he was taught to stick them when the gymnasts don't have perfect form.
Gymnastics is physically grueling enough, without getting jabbed over and over with drywall screws until you bleed. Drywall screws are sharp, and the threads get progressively bigger.
Seminole County sheriff's investigators said Coach Mike Turner and another coach repeatedly stabbed one of the boys and a brother repeatedly with dry wall screws, breaking the skin on their buttocks, leaving permanent scarring.
Last year, their mother noticed the scars during bathing and found out what was happening. Investigators said she told the owner, former Olympian Joan Moore Gnat, about it and they said Ace Gymnastics hired a new head coach and made sure the practice stopped.