Biography: YONGUE, Jimmy

YONGUE, Jimmy

Inducted: 2009

At the Hall of Fame ceremonies numerous friends of Jimmy’s from St. Martin Parish drove to attend, while others flew in from Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Chicago. “Over the years, Jimmy made a lot of friends who were Olympians,” said coach Jeff Hennessy, who mentored Yongue at UL (then USL) in the 1960s. “Of course, we had a bunch from here who went, too. We probably had 40 from the Lafayette area.  He deserves the honor he is receiving today.”

 Competition: Jimmy Yongue competed in numerous international meets and world championships under Hennessy. He won the bronze medal in synchronized trampoline at the 1968 World Championships and was the North American champion in 1964-65. Although injuries twice interrupted his career, Yongue vied for honors in 13 international competitions, was an NAIA All-American in 1967 and 1969 and in 1969 was Outstanding Trampolinist and Southern AAU Outstanding Athlete. Hennessy recalled one of Yongue’s first experiences outside the United States. “Jimmy was probably 16,” Hennessy said. “We had an invitation to have athletes compete in Germany, so I asked his father if he would object.” He responded, “Fine. Send him.” When he got there, Jimmy was lost because he couldn’t speak German. He got on a train, and got off at a town with a name that looked like the town he needed, and nobody picked him up. They finally discovered his situation, and the German coach picked him up. “There were several towns with similar names, and he got pretty close. That was his first experience in Europe.” Coaching: Yongue also excelled as a coach, mentoring two world champions in 1972 in Germany as coach of the U.S. team, earning Coach of the Year honors in 1973-74 and producing dozens of standouts. Former UL star Stuart Ransom was tutored by Yongue in Memphis and entered the Hall of Fame last year. Ransom was among those on hand at this year’s event. Inclusion in the Hall of Fame was especially gratifying for Yongue, who survived a gruesome traffic accident in 2008 that left several limbs shattered. “It crushed all my bones,” said Yongue, who suffered a broken arm, hip, leg and two broken feet. “I’m full of metal. My (recovery) has been my excitement for the last year and a half.” Retirement & Work: Yongue recently retired from coaching after helping fellow ex-UL star Gary Smith at Acadiana Gymnastics and assisting at other area clubs, as well as running a self-motivating gymnastics program at Thomas Park (1978-98) and at St. Bernard Elementary School in Breaux Bridge. The World Acrobatic Society also honored Yongue with its GALLERY OF LEGENDS AWARD.  He said standouts in trampoline and gymnastics are more difficult to find now. “To be a trampolinist is hard,” he said. “You have to spend so much time training, two hours a day, five days a week.”

Sources: Data retrieved from , and photos collected from .
By 2008-2010 Web Manager Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who-2010 Editing by Dr. Larry Banner, 1993 GHOF Inductee & 1894-2007 Web Manager.