Biography – STRAUSS, Donna & William

STRAUSS, Donna & William
Inducted: Dual Induction for Coaching & Service: 1989
Donna Born:
August 12, 1942.  Eastern Pennsylvania William Born: September 20, 1938. PenArgyl, Pennsylvania

 

There are many inductees into the USA Gymnastic Hall of Fame who were recognized for the honor by virtue of their accomplishments on the gym floor.  There are many others who added to their gymnastic prowess a lifetime of judging, coaching, or contributing in a variety of ways.  Donna and Bill Strauss engaged in an entire career of coaching at all levels. They worked with special education youngsters as well as Olympic hopefuls and those who became national and international champions. At this writing, at least two became gymnastic Olympians. Their range of talent for getting the best from each of their trainees may someday be matched but arguably never be exceeded. The Strauss’ behind the scenes teaching, encouragement, and inspiration has been a marvelous contribution to our nation’s honor in gyms around the world.

Donna Strauss – Education: B.S., Physical Education East Strodsburg University. Professional Experience: Physical Education Teacher, Allentown School District, (1964-1971); Co-founder and Co-director with husband, William, of after school intramural gymnastics program, “Parkettes”. William Strauss Education: B.S., Physical Education East Stroudsburg University; M.A., Physical Education, East Stroudsburg University. Professional Experience: Co-founder and Co-director of after school intramural gymnastics program, “Parkettes.”

Parkettes Gymnastic Team Coached by Donna & William Strauss

History and Successfulness of Parkettes

One of the nation’s premiere facilities for gymnastic training is the Parkettes Gymnastic Training Center in Allentown, PA.  The club started in the early 1960’s when Donna Strauss and her husband, Bill, started an intramural gymnastics program at a local middle school.  They named their program “The Parkettes” in honor of the school’s principal, Carroll Parks. From its inception the program grew rapidly. At first, the gymnasts practiced in barns, then a dimly lit basement of a church, the Strauss’ backyard, and the second and third floors of Symphony Hall in Allentown’s downtown area.  The apparatus was homemade. By 1976, the program was so strong that one Parkettes gymnast, Jodi Yocum, almost competed for the U.S. with a 7th place finish in the Olympic Trials. Yocum claimed the alternate spot. As Parkettes’ gymnast’s success gained a high national profile toward the end of the ‘70’s, Alfred W. Pelletier, then Chairman of the Board of Mack Trucks, Inc., spearheaded an effort to raise enough money to build a state-of-the-art facility in which the Parkettes gymnasts could train. By the early ‘80’s, the gymnasts had moved into the new facility and the Parkettes was now home to many very successful gymnasts such as Gina Stallone, Tracy Butler, and Jessica Armstrong. In 1985, Jennifer Sey and Tracey Calore placed 6th & 7th, respectively, at the U.S. National Championships, and both became members of the USA World Championship team.  The next year, Jennifer Sey won the U.S. National title and teammate Alyssa Solomon finished 4th. By the middle of the ‘80’s, Parkettes had established itself as one of the leading gymnastics clubs in the country. Strauss trained Hope Spivey was a rising star by the time of the Seoul, Korea (1988) Olympics. She had finished 4th at the 1987 Nationals and in 1988, she was third at both the Nationals and the Olympic Trials. She became the first Strauss coached gymnast to become a member of a USA Olympic Gymnastic Team. After the Seoul Olympics, the next generation of Parkettes gymnasts surfaced and rose to become top national and international athletes. Kristin Kenoyer, Jennifer Mercier, and Kim Kelly were among this group. Kim Kelly earned a spot on the 1989 World team and, in a controversial decision, narrowly missed making the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. By the mid ‘90’s Strauss coached Kristen Maloney competed in her first Senior Nationals in 1995 and qualified to compete in the 1996 Olympic Trials in spite of being a relative newcomer. Maloney didn’t make the 1996 Olympic Team, but she set her sights on the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. In 1997, she made the U.S. World team and continued to dominate woman’s gymnastics for the next three years, winning back-to-back National Titles in 1998 and 1999 and competing at the 1999 World Championships in China.  In 2000, Maloney became the Parkettes’ 2nd Olympic competitor and earned a full athletic scholarship to UCLA.

Donna & William’s Coaching Results

During their career as elite women’s gymnastic coaches, Donna and Bill molded two Olympic competitors, 102 National Team Members, 84 College Scholarships, three USA Senior National Champions, three USA Junior National Champions, three USA World Championship Team Members, six Pan American Team Members, and nine Special Olympians competing at the International Special Olympics. Donna-USA National Team Coach International Team Meet AA Champion, (1999); International Team Meet, Gold-Team, (1998); Pacific Alliance Championships, Gold-Team, (1998); Goodwill Games BB Gold medalist coach, (1998); Member, International Program Committee World Championship Team Coach, (1997); USA Women’s Olympic Coach, (1988); USA World Championship Women’s Team Coach, (1999); USA Women’s Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1999, & 1998); USOC Women’s Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1998); USCEA International Women’s Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1997); Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Woman’s Sports Foundation of Lehigh Valley, (1996); Selected as a member of the U.S. Gymnastics Woman’s Task force; Master Clinician & Lecturer for Regional & National Congress.  Coaching Awards Donna Strauss: USA World Championship Women’s Team Coach, (1999); USA Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1994, ‘98 & ‘99); USOC Coach of the Year, (1998); USECA International Coach of the Year, (1997); USGF Gymnastics Coach of the Year, (1983); Master Clinician & Lecturer for Regional & National Congresses. Coaching Awards William “Bill” Strauss: USA World Championship Women’s Team Coach, (1999); USA Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1998 & 1999); USOC Gymnastic Coach of the Year, (1998); USECA International Coach of the Year, (1997); Lehigh Valley Lifetime Achievement Award, Women’s Sports Foundation; U.S. Gymnastics Women’s Task Force, & Master Clinician & Lecturer for Regional & National Congresses. Family: Three children. One grandchild.

Sources: William and Donna Strauss’ personal resumes plus Parkettes information and photo researched and released courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005. Thanks also to Bruce Davis, Abie Grossfeld, & A. Bruce Frederick, author of Who’s Who in Americam Gymnastics for their suggestions, editing for accuracy, and encouragement. Introduction, commentary and formatting by Larry Banner, Web Manager.