Li Li Leung

The USA Gymnastics community and our leading artistic gymnasts have come together this week for the 2022 OOFOS U.S. Gymnastics Championships and National Congress. 

For athletes, it is a time to have their performances celebrated by family, friends, fans and spectators. For our community, it is a chance to meet, learn new skills and bond with friends and colleagues.

This year marks our largest National Congress since 2017, and it has been heartening to see the excitement of more than 2,500 attendees and exhibitors walking through the doors of the Tampa Convention Centre. 

Many of them were on hand on Thursday (August 18) afternoon when they helped us celebrate the launch of our new visual identity. 

This brand is so much more than just a logo - it is the manifestation of three years of ongoing cultural transformation that is continuing, as we challenge ourselves to be better each day - just as our athletes do.

More than three years have passed since our Board of Directors was replaced. Since that time, 60 per cent of our staff has changed, and six out of seven members of our executive leadership team, myself included, have joined the organisation since 2019. 

But more than individuals, our collective culture has evolved. Although it has been very mindful and deliberate, this evolution was not an option - it was an ethical imperative to undertake massive reform and change, driven by how our organisation failed our athletes and the entire gymnastics community.

The most egregious example is how we failed survivors of abuse. We failed to protect them, failed to listen to them, and failed to put them first. 

Kayla DiCello takes part in women's podium training at the Championships ©USA Gymnastics
Kayla DiCello takes part in women's podium training at the Championships ©USA Gymnastics

We are deeply sorry for the harm that we caused and are truly committed to the pursuit of a culture that will prevent it from happening again. We will never forget the past as it will help inform us towards a better future.

All of us at USA Gymnastics share a deep sense of responsibility toward the athletes and the community that we failed. 

From that failure came our new north star of athlete centricity and supporting the ecosystem that supports our athletes - it is meaningful that the abstract form of an athlete leads the way in our new logo. 

I can say with absolute certainty that today’s USA Gymnastics is fully focused on athlete health and wellbeing first and foremost.

We have been working hard to put the right resources and programmes in place to support our athlete-centric goals. 

In addition to our expanded Safe Sport team, we have a Chief of Athlete Wellness, whose role it is to develop wellbeing resources for our athletes and the community, including providing mental health and nutritional education programmes.

On the grassroots level, all member clubs now designate a Safety Champion to help promote the safety of nearly 200,000 young gymnasts in local clubs. 

In addition, every adult member of USA Gymnastics must be SafeSport trained, and parents across America have been taking advantage of our comprehensive educational programmes.

Together, these changes help form a healthier, safer foundation for the sport. It is the myriad of our gymnastics community and disciplines that is represented by the many facets of the flame in our new mark.

USA Gymnastics has launched a new logo as part of its rebrand ©USA Gymnastics
USA Gymnastics has launched a new logo as part of its rebrand ©USA Gymnastics

Of course, coaches form a vital part in shaping any sport’s culture. For more than a year now, we have worked with the Positive Coaching Alliance and the Aspen Institute on Cultural Change and the elevation of positive coaching techniques. Those partnerships complement our own robust positive coaching programmes and are meaningful steps in the right direction.

Paramount to our organisation’s north star is athlete representation within USA Gymnastics. Moving beyond typical models of athlete representation, abuse survivors are directly represented on our Board of Directors and several other key committees. 

Individual athletes are now empowered with an Athlete Bill of Rights, which we introduced in conjunction with our elected Athletes’ Council in December 2020. The Bill of Rights extends beyond safety and wellness and includes important elements like the right to peacefully protest, which athletes have exercised this summer.

Finally, while programmatic change is important, true, lasting culture change takes time and fundamentally relies on the buy-in and belief of stakeholders at all levels for it to be successful. Having learned the hard lessons, we work daily to continue to improve our sport and our organisation in service to the community. 

I am so grateful to see our community, from grassroots to the elite level, leaning in and so willing to embrace this change, as it could not happen without them.

Collectively, all of this foundational, impactful change has enabled us to begin to regain the trust of commercial partners. Thanks to the trust of OOFOS, this U.S. Gymnastics Championships is the first since 2017 to have a title partner.

Movement and sport remain powerful tools for helping to create a better society. American gymnasts, with their strength, their grace, their resilience, and their powerful voices have shown a remarkable ability to create lasting change and we are determined to support them in every way possible. 

We believe we’re on the right path and we will continue to challenge ourselves to be better. Here’s to opening a new chapter in our story of USA Gymnastics… the movement starts here.