Biography: BJERKE, Harold “Harry” W.

BJERKE, Harold “Harry” W.
Inducted: 2005
Born: July 16, 1940 – New York, NY

Harold Bjerke enjoyed and was successful at coaching gymnastics; however, he gradually came to believe that his greatest contribution to our sport would be to place himself in a position to operate in the judging arena on both the national and international levels. He wanted to correct, to the best of his ability, the manner in which gymnastics was judged first with simple written rules, then a more complicated Code of Points, and, most importantly, by politics and insider agreements. The result of this hodgepodge of subjective scoring was the underscoring of numerous individual performances starting in about 1948 and continuing into at least the ‘70’s. U.S. gymnasts as well as those of other nations were subjected to the unfairness of the system as he saw it. He moved into the judging field where he has sought and continues to seek honesty and continuity in both national and international settings. He has accomplished his mission with vigor, enthusiasm, and a “ready-to-go” suitcase.

Harold Bjerke began his gymnastics life first as an athlete, then as a coach at Lindenhurst High School, (1963-1971) and Farmingdale Jr. College, (1971-1982) finally shifting his entire focus to his role as a member of the local, national, and international judging ranks. He became a judge with the goal of bringing true expertise and a scrupulous dignity to the local, national, and international competitions where he participated. Gymnasts of the ‘50’s, ‘60’s, and even the 70’s who participated internationally can relate to his philosophy as stated in the above introduction and only dream about what might have been. They had long ago done what they trained to do, but training could not overcome the power of, as Harry writes, “ . . . an international group of good old boys to which they weren’t members.” Harry set out to make things correct and fair to all! International Officiating Men’s Artistic Gymnastics: World Championships, USA Judge, Arhus, Denmark, (2006); VIP guest at the European Championships as an observer, (2006); USA Technical Director, Pacific Alliance Championships, Honolulu, Hawaii, (2006); USA Judge, World Championships, Melbourne, Australia, (2005); Technical Director, World Cup, Long Island, USA, (2005); USA Judge, Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, (2004); USA Technical Director, Pacific Alliance Championships, Hawaii, (2004); USA Judge, World Championships, California, USA, (2003); USA Judge, World Championships, Debrecen, Hungary, (2002); USA Technical Expert, World Cup, Paris, France, (2002); FIG Technical Expert, World Championships, Ghent, Belgium, (2001); USA Technical Expert, Goodwill Games, Brisbane, Australia, (2001); USA Judge, Olympic Games, Sydney, Australia, (2000); USA Judge, Pacific Alliance Championships, Christchurch, New Zealand, (2000); Technical Director for all major National & International competitions hosted by USA Gymnastics, the USA’s National Governing Body for Gymnastics, [1997-(Present-2006)]; USA Judge, World Championships, Tianjin, China, (1999); USA Judge, China Cup, Shanghai, China, (1999); Technical Director at USA Team Championships vs. Romania and China, (1996-2002); Technical Director, Goodwill Games, USA, (1998); FIG Technical Expert, World Championships, Lausanne, Switzerland, (1997); USA Judge, Olympic Games, Atlanta, GA, USA, (1996); Technical Director or USA Judge at all American Cups, (1983-2005); USA Judge, World Championships, Dortmund, Germany, (1994); USA Judge, Goodwill Games, Russia, (1994); USA Judge, Technical Director, World University Games, USA, (1991); USA Judge, World Championships, Indiana, USA, (1991); USA Judge, Pre-Olympic Invitational, Barcelona, Spain, (1991); USA Judge, Goodwill Games, USA, (1990); USA Judge, World Cup, Belgium, (1990); USA Judge, Pan American Games, Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, (1987); USA Judge, Cup of Excellence, Canada, (1985); USA Judge, World Championships, Budapest, Hungary, (1983); USA Judge,, DTB Cup, Germany, (1983); USA Judge, Swiss Cup, Switzerland, (1983);  Friendship Games, Alternate Olympics due to Olympic boycott, (1980); USA Judge, at International Dual Meets; e.g., USA vs. Japan, Hungary, France, Russia, China, Canada, Mexico, Romania, & Germany. National OfficiatingMen’s Artistic Gymnastics: Technical Director or Judge at all USA National Championships, [1976-(Present-2006)]; Technical Director or Judge at all Olympic Team Trials, [1980-(Present-2006)]; Technical Director or Judge at all World Championships Team Trials, [1977-(Present-2006)]; Technical Director or Judge at 16 NCAA Division I Championships; Technical Director or Judge at 12 Big Ten Championships; Technical Director or Judge at 5 NCAA Division II Championships; Technical Director or Judge at numerous USAG Winter Nationals, JO Nationals, Las Vegas Invitationals, Junior college National Championships, NCAA Eastern Regional Championships, USA Qualifier, Mardi Gras Invitationals, etc.; Technical Director or Judge at all Eastern Gymnastics Championships, (1974-1993); Officiated at numerous collegiate dual, tri, and invitational meets, (1968-2005); Technical Director, West Point Invitational, (1992-2006); Technical Director, Farmingdale Invitational, (1972-1989). Professional Contributions: Served as USA Gymnastics Technical Director of USA Men’s National & International Gymnastic Events, (1997-Present); Served as Technical Director at numerous Olympic & National Team Training Camps; Served as USA Gymnastics Finance Committee member, (2001-2004) and chaired the Finance Committee, (1997-2000); Served on Board of Directors for USA Gymnastics, (1987-1996); Participated in the FIG Intercontinental Judges course & Exam held every four years, USA, Czech Republic, & Germany, (1996, 2000, & 2005); Served the post of FIG International Technical Expert, (1996-2005); FIG Brevet level judge, (1980-Present); President of the National Gymnastics Judges Association, (1987-1996); Board Member of the NGJA, (1969-Present); Speaker/Presenter at USA Gymnastics annual congresses; Lead Instructor at the USA Gymnastics International Continental Judges Certification course, (1989, 1993, 1997, & 2001); Organized & directed national judges certification courses, (1980-Present); Member & three-time President of the Eastern Gymnastics Judges Association. Education: BS @ Ithaca College, (1963) & MS @ Adelphi University, (1971). Honors: High School Coach of the Year, (1967, ’68, ’69, & ’70); Junior College Co-Coach of the Year, (1975 & ’78); Inducted into the Eastern Gymnastic Judges Hall of Fame, (1991); Inducted into National Gymnastics Judges Hall of Fame, (1992); FIG recognition for judging excellence at World Cup, (1990); FIG recognition for judging excellence at the Olympic Games, (1996); FIG recognition for judging excellence at the World Championships, (1997 & ’99 & ‘01); Recognized at FIG Technical Expert ranked among top 18 judges in the world, (1996-2004); Honored with the FIG Honorary Judges Diploma, the highest honor that an international official can earn. Only four American men have received this honor; Inducted into the Ithaca College Sports Hall of Fame, (2001); Received the Spirit of the Flame Award, presented by the USA Gymnastics Olympic Athletes’ Council; Inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame, (2005); Received Commander’s Award for Excellence, presented at West Point by Colonel Chris Fulton; Inducted into the Suffolk County Sports Hall of Fame, (2006). Family (m) Maureen (nee Mallon).

Sources: Interviews, photos, and personal resume and editing services courtesy of Mr. Bjerke. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.