Festivus for the Rest of Us

In honor of Festivus today, we decided to celebrate by performing some of the time-honored traditions of the holiday.

Airing of Grievances

We’ve got a lot of problems with collegiate gymnastics. And now you’re going to hear about it.
Lack of Reward for Difficulty
There’s a lack of reward for difficulty in the sport. Yeah, you have to think about all 80-something teams competing, but the devaluation fo the Yurchenko full didn’t end the world like everyone thought. Why not make some other subtle changes as well? Or don’t even make it a requirement! Just give incintive to those that go the extra mile. Like most things, gymnastics has to evolve with the times and the athletes participating.

Element Difficulty Cap
Tell us again why the college code only goes up to E-level difficulty? The cap basically strips any incentive to do harder skills. If a gymnast can get an extra bit of bonus form doing the double layout they’re perfectly capable of doing, why not encourage it? Technically, MyKayla’s double-double is worth the exact same as N.C. State’s Caitlyn Fillard’s full-in.

Lack of Individual Recognition
Yeah, yeah, yeah. “It’s all about the team!” But sports can celebrate teams and individuals. *GASP* No really. It’s possible. Bring back individual event finals — even if it means having to watch that one session on a live stream versus a TV channel not everyone gets. Celebrate the best individuals more than just at the banquet. Recognize those stars that make their teams great. Becaue without them, the teams wouldn’t be what they are anyway.

Artistry Bonus
Forget about this basically being an opinion the judges would have to decide on. But shouldn’t routines from the likes of Janay Honest and Chayse Capps be rewarded? When compared to the pose-pose-pose choreography some teams bring to meet, the Oklahomas and UCLAs of the gym world don’t get the benefit they deserve from not making us want to gouge our eyes out after watch their routines.

Raise Recruiting Age
Tell us the college and career path you dreamed of when you were 12 is the same thing you ended up doing after graduation. Go on. We’ll wait… Exactly. Recruiting for gymnastics needs to change. Very few gymnasts barely in high school know exactly what they want to do as adults. College is more than just gymnastics, the head coach and the team members (heck, when some of these recruits are verballing, none of those gymnasts will even be​ on the team anymore!). And we’ve seen the repercussions of this lately with flipped committments and transfers here and there. Plenty of other sports handle this aspect just fine. Swimmers don’t committ until much later and you don’t hear about too many football players committing when they’re in middle school. Of course there are other problems like less scholarship options and whatnot, but something has to be done.

But after all of this, don’t get us wrong. We love college gymnastics and all it has to offer. We’ll still be setting up six screens on regional day and absorbing every routine we can get our eyes on.

Feats of Strength

Lastly, what’s Festivus without the Feats of Strength because as they say, “Festivus isn’t over until the head coach is pinned.” Or something like that… In the running are: D-D Breaux (1-seed), Rene Lyst (wild card selection, 2-seed), Miss Val (3), Dana Duckworth (4), Bev Plocki (5), KJ Kindler (6), Tom Farden (7), Megan Marsden/Greg Marsden combo (8), Tabitha Yim (9), Jenny Rowland (10), Dan Kindig (11), Jeff Graba (12), Danna Durante (13), Jay Santos (14), Jeff Thompson (15), Elise Ray (16).
Round 1
D-D Breaux (1) vs. Elise Ray (16)
Caroline: D-D for sure. Elise has a lot going for her, coming in as a long-heralded heir to an up-and-coming program, but D-D Breaux is in her 40th year. She knows that sometimes you have to get a little rough and tumble to win.
Elizabeth: Hands down D-D. She’s actually my pick to win it all. Would you want to be in a fight against her? I didn’t think so. Poor Elise Ray is just so innocent; she won’t see it coming.
​Winner: D-D Breaux (1)

Miss Val (3) vs. Jay Santos (14)
Caroline: Oh Miss Val, hands down. Santos is the trendy guy right now, having had so much success with EMU, but Miss Val was the shiz long before Santos started climbing the ladder. She’s an HBIC if I ever saw one.
Elizabeth: Santos has the “I’m coming in determined to right a sinking ship” thing going for him, but Miss Val has the “you better not fall off that beam” look that I don’t want directed at me.
​Winner: Miss Val (3)

Bev Plocki (5) vs. Jeff Graba (12)
Caroline: Both teams with a lull last year after some record success… I gotta go with Bev too.
Elizabeth: Hmm this one’s tough, but I’m going to have to go with Bev. I don’t know why. It’s just one of those feelings?
​Winner: Bev (5)

Tom Farden (7) vs. Jenny Rowland (10)
Caroline: Jenny? She just seems like she could intimidate someone into doing anything. No need to lay a finger, but that stare, man.
Elizabeth: Farden. Those bar-tightening gloves are the real deal. Plus, I can’t see Jenny Rowland hurting a fly to be honest.
​​Winner: After flipping a coin, Jenny Rowland (10) advances.
Rene Lyst (2) vs. Jeff Thompson (15)
Caroline: Gonna have to go with Thompson, if only for the fact that he managed to keep his job. Not necessarily something I’m a fan of, but when it comes to this fight, that’s definitely a point in his column. 
Elizabeth: This is TOUGH. But I fear Lyst more than I do Thompson. Plus, I bet she’s got a rack of Stiletto heels ready for stabbing.
​​Winner: After flipping a coin, Rene Lyst (2) advances.

Dana Duckworth (4) vs. Danna Durante (13)
Caroline: Dana! Though they’re both still a little green in long-storied programs, Dana has made a much more aggressive push forward, making Bama truly her own program. Danna has lost her footing a little along the way, particularly with last year’s beam-plosion, so I have to give it to Duckworth.
Elizabeth: Ahh the great Dana/Danna debate. Having spent a lot more time around Danna, I can’t recall a time I’ve ever seen her angry. Dana? That beam face is intimidating, so I’ve got to go Dana.
​Winner: Dana Duckworth (4)

KJ Kindler (6) vs. Dan Kindig (11)
Caroline: KJ. Her choreography is fierce, her wardrobe is always on point, and she’s apparently the queen of motivating hashtags. “#committo3”? Now that’s a motto I can get behind.
Elizabeth: For many of the same reasons I chose the others, I’m going with KJ because of the looks she gives when she’s watching her gymnast up on an event.
​Winner: KJ Kindler (6)

Marsden Combo (8) vs. Tabitha Yim (9)
Caroline: Tabitha ftw!
Elizabeth: I’m going Tabitha on this one. Greg is too goofy in retirement now that he counteracts Megan. Plus Tabitha’s just fierce in her own right.
​Winner: Tabitha (9)

Round 2
D-D Breaux (1) vs. Miss Val (3)
Caroline: Oh, this is the hardest one yet. I have to say D-D, simply for the fact that imagining the coin toss, I would be more upset seeing her eliminated than Val.
Elizabeth: This round is where it gets tough! But I’m standing ground on my original overall pick to win with D-D.
Winner: D-D

Bev Plocki (5) vs. Jenny Rowland (10)
Caroline: Yeah, I can go with Bev. I see more stick-to-it-ive-ness in her, she’s got stamina.
Elizabeth: Bev. Like I said earlier, Jenny’s just too sweet to me.
Winner: Bev

Tabitha Yim (9) vs. KJ Kindler (6)
Caroline: Gotta go with KJ. Time will tell if Tabitha can leave her mark on the NCAA, but KJ has already made her legacy with Oklahoma, and looks to be well on the way to building on that.
Elizabeth: Oh gosh… Both beam queens. Both fierce… I’m going for the upset in Tabitha. Looks like we’ll have to see what the coin says!
Winner: KJ Kindler advances on the coin toss.

Rene Lyse (2) vs. Dana Duckworth (4)
Caroline: I gotta go with Dana too. I feel like she could win and keep her hands clean, which makes the win all the more satisfying.
Elizabeth: This is another tough one… But I’m doing with Dana and her “I’m daring you to fall off the beam” stare.
Winner: Dana

Round 3
D-D Breaux (1) vs. Bev Plocki (5)
Caroline: D-D, hands down. She’s got the heart, the experience, the commitment. No question.
Elizabeth: D-D’s got it easier this round. I’m obviously picking her.
Winner: D-D
KJ Kindler (6) vs. Dana Duckworth (4)
Caroline: Oh man, another tough one. I have to go with KJ, her battle tactics have won championships and made ninjas out of seemingly middle-of-the-road recruits.
Elizabeth: Oh gosh… Each has their own withering beam stare that I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of. Dana has the purse of the lips while KJ has the chin down, eyes up look. Who to pick, who to pick… I’m going Dana.
Winner: After a coin toss, the winner is KJ
Round 4
D-D Breaux (1) vs. KJ Kindler (6)
Caroline: Despite the fact that KJ has won championships and D-D has not, I think I have to go with D-D. She tells it like it is, she’s been at this for forty years and she’s never given up – she’s been patient and determined, and now is her time.
Elizabeth: I’ve been saying it all along. D-D is not someone you want to cross. She’s nice when she needs to be but strict when she needs to be as well. And one time on a teleconference she cut a coach speaking off saying something along the lines of “just say what you think already!” She says what she’s thinking and doesn’t care what others think. That’s rare in women’s gymnastics these days.

Pinned: Dana Duckworth
Champion: D-D Breaux

Happy Festivus!

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