Author Archives: admin

Biography: BORDEN, Amanda


Inducted: 2014 Born: Osaka, Japan

Yoshi (2nd from left) with his family on board the S.S. Idaho on his way to America, trip took about 2 weeks.

Coaching: Hayasaki served as Head Men’s Gymnastics Coach at the University of Illinois from 1974 thru 2009 excluding 1994, 1995, 1996). He also served as a director of Men’s and Women’s programs, for three years, at the University of Illinois. During his 35-year tenure at Illinois, Hayasaki led his teams to six Big Ten Championships (81, 83, 88, 89, 04, 09) and won the NCAA national team championship in 1989.  He coached over 90 All Americans, 50 Big Ten champions, 14 individual event national champions, and produced 3 Olympians.

International Coaching Assignments:  Member of the U.S. Olympic Coaching Staff for the 1988 Olympics, Assistant Coach/Team Leader of U.S. Team for the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand (2007) and Daegu, South Korea (2003),  Head Coach of U.S. Team at 1985 World University Games-Japan, Head Coach at Golden Sands International Meet (Bulgaria).  Head Coach 1986 Moncado (Cuba), Coached at 1984 Coca-Cola Invitational (London), Coached at U.S. Olympic Festival in 1978 and 1985. Yoshi Coached teams twice at the Taiwan International Meet.

National Competitions: AAU:   1967-Gold-AA and PB, Silver-FX, Bronze-PH and SR;   1968-Silver-AA, HB and SR, Bronze-FX;  1969-Gold-PB; 1973-Gold-AA, HB and PH and V, Silver-PB; 1974-Gold-AA, PB and HB, Silver-SR.  USGF: 1968-Gold- AA, PB, SR and HB, Silver-V; 1972-Silver-AA, and PB, Bronze-FX and HB.  NCAA: 1968-Silver-AA and PB; 1970-Gold-AA and PB, Bronze-SR;  1971-Gold-AA, 4th-SR and PB, 6th HB. Pac 10 Conference: 1970-Gold-AA, SR, PB, HB; 1971-Gold-AA, SR, PB, HB.  He has earned over 20 individual national titles….  Yoshi had the extreme misfortune to miss out on an opportunity to contend for a spot on the 1968 Olympic team (having just become the National All Around Champion), because of a torn Achilles Tendon.

Honors: Hayasaki was inducted into the United State Gymnastics “Hall of Fame” in 2014. He  was named NCAA Coach of the year in 1989 and Big Ten Coach of the Year four times (1988, 1989, 2004 and 2009).  Named NCAA Central Region Coach of the Year 1989, 2000, 2004. He was inducted into the University of Washington Sports Hall of Fame in 1983. He was named University of Washington Athlete of the Year twice. Ten-time NCAA All American.  Family: Wife: Lisa, daughters: Mia, Erika and Megan and son Casey (who competed at Illinois), brother: Masahiro; sisters: Chieko and Chikako.

Yoshi continues to teach gymnastics at the private gym he started, The Hayasaki Gymnastics Center in Champaign, Illinois.

As a 17 year old high school graduate Yoshi bravely traveled alone, by ship, from Japan to Longview, Washington, for the purpose of gaining a scholarship to compete at the University of Washington.  He did this in spite of being asked not to by his family and his gymnastics peers in Japan (even at this time Yoshi was considered to be one of the top gymnasts in Japan-a country that was an international power).  At that time Yoshi could not read, write or understand English.  On the ship he became seriously sea-sick, recovering just shortly prior to landing in America.  When he arrived in America he was basically without funds, but with an outstanding future ahead of him.

Sources: “Somersaulting Into America,” by Erika Hayasaki; “Gymnastics Who’s Who 2010,” by Jerry Wright, assistant web manager. Personal interview with Mr. Hayasaki.

Biography: ZWICKEL, Walter “Walt”

ZWICKEL, Walter “Walt”
Inducted: 1977

Walt Zwickel was not a gymnast, a coach, or a judge in the world of gymnastics. I can’t even write that he ever saw a gym meet although I’m sure he witnessed many. The fact is that there are numerous U.S. Gymnastic Hall of Fame Inductees who were selected for the honor because their contributions were truly appreciated. I think Gerald George and George Nissen would be in similar categories. They weren’t Olympians, but they made important contributions; e.g., Gerald George in the area of gym safety and George Nissen in the area of gym apparatus. So, it seems reasonable to honor a man who, just as the saying, “Clothes make the man,” Zwickel made the clothes that made the gymnasts look good.

General: Walt Zwickel was the official clothier for the U.S. Men’s Olympic Gymnastics Teams through several Olympics. He was a fifth generation tailor; in fact, his grandfather outfitted the Austrian National Team and was tailor by appointment to Emperor Franz Joseph. Zwickel operated two men’s fashion stores in Philadelphia. In addition, he was the fashion editor for the Modern Gymnast magazine for a period of time. It was this writer’s experience that our gymnastic team’s competition apparel in the ’60 & ’64 Olympic Games were as well tailored if not the best tailored uniforms competing in the gym. I cannot tell you that they were Zwickel tailored, but I suspect it was during those years that he provided his contribution to gymnastics.

Source: Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, who also provided the Zwickel photo. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager

Biography: YOUNG, Wayne R.

YOUNG, Wayne R.

Inducted: 2008


Unlike most gymnasts who start perfecting their routines at a very early age, Wayne Young didn’t have that opportunity until going to BYU as a freshman from Provo High School. Provo schools did not have gymnastics programs, so Young went to the swimming pools and became an All-Region and All-State diver.

Education: Wayne Young received a bachelor’s degree from BYU in 1975, a master’s degree in bio-mechanics from Penn State in 1977 and a medical degree from the University of Utah in 1991. He is a doctor in obstetrics and gynecology for Intermountain Healthcare. Young, lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Olympic Games: Wayne Young was the captain of the U.S. Men’s Gymnastic Team at the 1976 Olympic Games placing 12th in the all-around. Young was the U.S. team’s leading scorer in the meet. World Championships: Tean member, Belgrade, Yugoslavia, (1974). International Competitions: Young had been recognized as the top amateur gymnast in the United States since the fall of 1974, when he qualified for the number-one spot on the U.S. Gymnastics Team. He represented the United States in international competition in Canada and South Africa. Collegiate Career: When he came to BYU, he wanted to compete in the all-around category, but had to work hard for a couple of years before he could convince the coach of his ability. By December, 1974, however, he was featured on the cover of Gymnast magazine, with the headline, “Wayne Young-USA’s Best.” By the time he graduated he had garnered six WAC titles and been named BYU’s first All-American in gymnastics. When, as a junior, he started competing for the team in the all-around, he was the first Utahn ever found to be versatile enough to hold down that demanding position on a BYU team. That year he won the WAC crown, and came in third in the NCAA. He also competed for the U.S. in the World Games in Bulgaria, taking first in the U.S. trials, and leading the other Americans at the Games. The only representative of the U.S. at the Canadian Milk Cup All-Star Championships, Young took 4th. Wayne Young crowned his outstanding collegiate career by winning the NCAA all-around championship on April 4, 1975, at Indiana State University, the first athlete from the Western Athletic Conference (which has since been disbanded) to win the title. Overall Young captured the following honors at the collegiate level: NCAA Championships: Silver-AA, 5th V, (1974). Gold-AA, 4th SR, PB, & HB, (1975). Coaching: Young coached men’s gymnastics at BYU from 1979-87 and at Odessa Junior College from 1977-79. In 1979, his second year of coaching at Odessa College in Texas, Young guided his team to the NJCAA championship berth. as well. He also became chairman of the NCAA Gymnastics Committee in 1983.

Honors: Named NJCAA Coach of the Year, (1979). Mr. Young (1986) and his son Guard (2010) also share a very unique honor in that both have been inducted into the Brigham Young University Sports Hall of Fame. Family: Wife-Carole; son, Guard (who was a member of the 2004 U.S. Olympic Team that won the silver medal) and 6 other children (5 daughters and another son).

Sources: Data and SR photo retrieved from Brigham Young University archives. Data and mug photo collected from public sources 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.

Biography: VINCENT, William J.  “Bill”

VINCENT, William J.  “Bill”
Honored Guest
Born: Los Angeles, California

Bill Vincent has served the sport of gymnastics as an athlete, coach, judge, and contributor. At UCLA, we were friends and teammates. Bill was always of the highest character, an academician, and a high scoring member of the UCLA gymnastic team and all other gymnastic teams on which he competed. It is with personal pleasure and pride that his career and contributions to our sport is of such a magnitude that he is included on this Gymnastics Hall of Fame web site as an “Honored Guest”. He has been a strong contributor in many ways to America’s gymnastic progress through the years.

Los Angeles City High School Championships: Gold-PB, (1955). Pacific Coast Conference Championships: Gold-FR, competing for the UCLA Bruins coached by Ralph Borelli, (1959). At UCLA, he was an All Around competitor in addition to tumbling, trampoline and flying rings.   He and his UCLA teammate, Orwyn Sampson, created a trampoline clown act called the Trampoloonies, performing at school assemblies and at collegiate and high school basketball half time shows.  UCLA was ranked in the NCAA top five nationally in 1957, 58, and 59 but Bill was unable to compete at the NCAA Championships because UCLA was banned from national competition after 1957 due to football recruiting violations. Education: B.S. in Physical Education, (1960); M.A. in Physical Education/Exercise Physiology, (1961); Ed.D. in Educational Psychology, (1966). All of Bill’s degrees were earned at UCLA. Coaching/Professional: In 1962, Bill became the gymnastics coach at San Fernando Valley State College, later named California State University, Northridge, (CSUN). He coached the gymnastics team through 1970, during which time his teams won eight straight California Collegiate Conference Championships and eight straight NCAA Division II Western Regional Championships. Bill culminated his coaching career by winning back-to-back NCAA Division II National Championships, (1968 & 1969). He retired from coaching in 1970 and subsequently accepted positions in the Department of Kinesiology as Assistant Athletic Director, Graduate Program Coordinator, and eventually became the Kinesiology Department Chair.Honors: Named NCAA Division II Coach of the Year, (1968 & ’69).  Some of the gymnasts he coached included Rusty Rock and Richard Grigsby, both NCAA Division I National Champions on high bar. Judging: During his coaching years, and for 10 years after his retirement from coaching Bill served as a judge for high school and collegiate competitions.  Contributions: Bill Vincent’s research efforts have produced four books including “Statistics in Kinesiology” (Human Kinetics, Third Edition, 2005) and more than 75 articles in professional journals including Research Quarterly, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, International Journal of Sports Medicine, European Journal of Applied Physiology and the Journal of Motor Behavior.  He was the author in 1967 of a series of articles in the Modern Gymnast magazine (Glenn Sundby, Publisher and Editor) titled “Let’s Teach Routines.” Bill is listed in Who’s Who in Gymnastics, Jerry Wright, publisher, (2005) and was inducted in 2003 as an Honorary Life Time Member of the College Gymnastics Association.  He has served on the Board of Governors for the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (1993-1996) and was president of the South West District of AAHPERD from 1991 to 1993. Upon retirement from CSUN, Bill and his wife Diana served a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Pacific Islands area.    He currently serves as the Director of the General Education Wellness Program at Brigham Young University. Family: (m) Diana Logan. Children: Steven, Danny, Susan, Gail, David, & Nancy. Grandchildren: 17.

Sources: Interviews with Vincent and his personal resume. NCAA, Pacific Coast Conference, and other source records. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.

Biography: TOM, William

TOM, William “Bill” 1926 – 2012

Inducted:  1992 Born: San Francisco, California

Bill is a man of energy and humility, opening the gym in the evenings and then helping numerous young gymnasts learn the gymnastic skills they would later perform in Olympic Trials, Olympic Games, World Championships, NCAA Championships, and other prestigious competitions. His experiences with acceptance and prejudice lead him to believe that “ . . . the Olympics are a universal sport, a universal language to respect each other because it’s the only event to bring the youth of the world together . . . ” At over eighty years of age, he still travels the world competing in Badminton Championships.

A SHAKY START: Bill was born in San Francisco, but when he was five years old, he moved to Guangzhou (Canton), China. Because of the Japanese bombardment of China in the late 1930’s, he moved back to the United States finally settling in Los Angeles when he was about 15 years old. Education& Early Development: Bill attended Los Angeles Poly Tech High School where he practiced gymnastics. He went on to Los Angeles City College for one year and then went into the military service during WWII.  While in the military, Bill made a pommel horse from a tree log sliced in half with makeshift pommels. Years later, Bill had Olympic business cards made up with him in combat boots doing a circle on that pommel horse. After his military service, he went to Occidental College where he graduated with a B.A. (1951).  After college Bill taught high school in Los Angeles for seven years.  Eventually, he received his M.A. from Cal. State Los Angeles in 1962.  Honors/Gymnastics: Gymnastically, Bill won the 1949 National AAU (elite) vaulting championships, having also placed in floor exercise and pommel horse. He was also a Southern California regional all-around champion and a valuable member of the Los Angeles Turners team that won several National team titles.  Bill achieved his greatest gymnastics success rather late in his career. In 1956 he qualified for the U. S. Olympic team, being its senior member at age 33.  Melbourne, Australia, (1956) At these Games, Bill “ . . . experienced powerful emotions as he made friends with the Taiwanese athletes and found himself dealing with deep-seated personal issues of cultural identity that led to his moving to Taiwan for awhile and establishing their first gymnastic team.”  Honors/: Fulbright/Smith-Mundt Teacher Education Exchange Program Award that took Bill to Taiwan Normal University as an instructor, (1957-’58); Coaching: Bill returned from Taiwan and taught physical education and coached the men’s gymnastics team at L.A. Trade Tech for 32 years.  General: Bill Tom started gymnastics in his only year at Los Angeles Poly Tech. HS. After his one year in high school, WWII took him into the service.  Throughout his gymnastic career, he received support from Olympians and other outstanding gymnasts in the L.A. area.  After college, he was an important scorer for the L.A. Turners Gymnastic Club that went undefeated for many seasons against Division I universities. Several major individual championships were held annually in the Los Angeles area, and Bill was in the top three in most events all of the time.  A Point of Interest: Art Shurlock tells about the September of 1956, while we were training at Lincoln High School prior to leaving for Melbourne, Bill devised and often performed the ‘Bailie’ skill on pommel horse. He called it a ‘Moore, back Moore, travel’ that in today’s terms would be a “half Czech, direct Stockli B.” Two years later at a workout in Florida, Sam Bailie was eager to show me a new skill that he ‘invented,’ which was the same skill that Bill had shown me.  Afterward my thought was that it would have been more appropriate to name the skill a ‘Bill Tom!’ It should be pointed out that at the time Bill and Sam were unaware of each other performing the same skill. A Numerous Sports Champion: Along with his gymnastics training, Bill learned and became a champion Badminton player.  During the late ‘50s and 60s, he opened the Lincoln Heights (Los Angeles) HS gymnasium two evenings a week.  Former and prospective Olympians often trained there.  Bill would have a Badminton net set up and Jack Beckner, Larry Banner, and numerous others would warm up playing Bill.  I don’t remember anyone scoring a point against him, and little did we know that he would continues to advance his Badminton skills to the point that he won numerous International Senior Badminton titles including several Asian National Age Bracket Championships.  In April 2007, Bill won the Silver Medal at the USA National Sr. Badminton Championship-Age Bracket: 80-84 years young. He scored Silver in the singles competition and Gold in the doubles division.  Bill scored Gold in his bracket at Badminton’s Sr. Olympic Games in Pasadena, CA. He won two gold and one silver in the three badminton divisions: singles, doubles, & mixed doubles in the Sr. Olympic Games Badminton Tour, Pittsburgh, PA, (June, 2005). He plans to compete again in 2007 where the competition will be held in Louisville, KY. Bill returned to Asia in 2007 for the World Cup Championships. He and his partner won gold in the doubles competition, (See Insert). He just returned from Malaysia where he was the doubles badminton champion at age 83 1/2 and was recently inducted into the Senior Badminton Hall of Fame, (2006). Unknown to we lowly gymnasts, Bill has been toning up his tennis skills, and just recently, 2007, returned from the World China Cup Championship. He had entered the 80-infinity age bracket. When asked about the results of his tennis singles match, he replied, “No singles past age 80 in tennis competition. Motto is ‘Safety First.’” When asked about the results of the doubles portion, Bill, in his usual straightforward manner replied, “All partners die!” Not to be denied, Bill paid $20 American for a partner from a pool of stand-by players. His draw from the pool was a bit disappointing. Bill described his $20 partner picked from a hat walking onto the court at the last minute limping badly; nevertheless, Bill did get to play in the doubles tournament, but, alas, did not medal. As Bill said, “Maybe for $40, I get faster partner”, but he was joking “No $40 dollar hat,” exclaimed Bill. Readers’ now know the breaking news about whether Bill goes to the World Championship Badminton Tournament at age 90+. He passed at age 93, but not before becoming an champion diver, exemplified y his placing 5th in a National AAU championship and a Southern California Junior College Diving championship.  Art writes that his badminton prowess was legendary. Enough you think but it was not enough. Bill designed his own kites that had a glass substance on the string.  He became a master flying the kite, employing a special technique of “pulling and releasing.” Shurlock was with Bill one day watching Bill zooming his kite across the sky thus cutting down other kites – all for sport. Art mentioned that he may be cutting down some kids’ kites.  Bill playfully responded, “It’s war up there! Bill was truly one of a kind. Teaching Humility: During the 50s & 60s, it was common at many schools for the gymnastic or badminton and basketball teams to compete for time in the gym.  At age 72, Bill was teaching a badminton class in the L.A. Trade Tech gym when several basketball players wanted the space for an early practice.  Bill told them it would be OK, but there were stipulations. The 1st was that any three of the basketball players had to play badminton against him.  They could all play him at once or one by one.  The 2nd was that he would spot them 14 points (15 points wins the game) in each game played.  The 3rd stipulation was that they could serve first, and the fourth, that brought quite a laugh. The loudest laugh was when the a fourth stipulation was proposed, the basketball players would have to respectfully bow to him whenever they crossed paths on campus if he lost. His challenge was accepted, and the boys chose to play him one at a time. Why not?  He, after all, was 72 years old.  They boasted that they would just wear him out.  For the remainder of the year, basketball began when gymnastics ended, no questions asked, and several boys were seen bowing to Bill at various locations about the campus.  One day, one of the young men didn’t bow, and Bill immediately asked him why he didn’t bow.  The answer was something about being embarrassed in front of his girlfriend.  Bill’s response was that “ . . . humility in a man is a plus in a woman’s heart”.  All three never missed a properly bowing after learning humility from the Master. Family: One son. Two daughters. Six grandchildren.

Sources: Interviews with Tom who provided WC photo and action photo by Jerry Wright, author of Who’s Who in Gymnastics, 2005. Much information received and reproduced herein by Abie Grossfeld and Art Shurlock who were two of Bill’s best friends throughout numerous years. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.

Biography: ROETZHEIM, William “Bill”

ROETZHEIM, William  “Bill”

Inducted: 1975 Born: September 7, 1928

Bill Roetzheim was a gymnast, a highly successful high school and college coach, a judge of international repute, an innovative college director, and an expert lecturer constantly in demand.

As a competitor, Bill Roetzheim won 9 National Championships in AAU and NCAA competition, and these accomplishments plus his Olympic and national championships were truly the best features of his competitive career. Olympic Games: Team member, London, England, (1948); Team member, Helsinki, Finland, (1952). National AAU Championships: Silver-HB, (1948); Gold-AA, the first collegiate gymnast to win the coveted AAU All Around title; Silver-PB; Bronze-FX, (1949); Gold-AA & HB, (1950); Gold-AA, HB, & PH; Silver-PB, (1951); Bronze-HB, (1952); Gold-PH, Silver-AA, (1953). NCAA Championships: Gold-AA & HB; Bronze-PH & PB, (1951). Pan American Games: Gold-AA & HB; Silver-PH & FX, Buenos Aires, Argentina, (1951) Bill was the only American entered in these Pam Ams. He filled the bill as a one-man wrecking crew. Honors: In addition to being an Inductee into the USAG Hall of Fame, Bill is a member of the National Gymnastics Judges Association Hall of Fame and the Illinois High School Hall of Fame. Coach: Bill began his coaching career in high school where his teams won three state team championships. Athletes mentored by Roetzheim amassed 19 individual championships. In college, his teams amassed a record of 81 wins vs. 26 losses for a .757 record. His coaching produced three NCAA champions and 19 individual All-Americans. Judge: Bill was the first American elected to the FIG Men’s Technical Committee, serving from 1984 to 1996. He was a superior judge at the Olympic Games, Los Angeles, CA, USA, (1984); Seoul, Korea, (1988); Barcelona, Spain, (1992) and Atlanta, GA, USA, (1996).

Sources:  Information and editing service courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Who’s Who in Gymnastics, 2005 with Pan American Games results courtesy of Olympic Committee Quadrennial, 1956 and . Additional editing services provided by Bruce Davis, author of numerous articles and papers. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.

Biography: MEADE, William

MEADE, William “Bill” (1925-2004)

Inducted: 1974

It was my pleasure to know the “brash” but jovial and “lovable” knowledgeable coach, Bill Meade.  Even though he was coaching his team at national competitions, he willingly helped me and others.  He was an institution in the gymnastic world, and I was also privileged to be an Olympic teammate of at least two of the four Olympians he coached.  He, along with his Penn St. teammate, Harold Frey, and coach, Gene Whettstone, was a leader in a world of people whose presence in U.S. gymnastics activities was mandatory for the U.S. to progress in the international arena.

Competition Experience: Bill Meade won gold in Tu & PB as a senior at Warren High School, PA, (1941). Bill entered the military, (1943-’46) even though he had enrolled as a freshman at Penn State U.; however, he returned after the war to compete under Gene Whetstone, coach of the Nittany Lions, (1947-’49). Bill won gold twice as the EIGL Tu champion, (1948-’49) and Silver-Tu, (1949). Coaching: Meade graduated and went to the U. of North Carolina where he started a gymnastics program and coached for seven years, (1949-’56). Meade then took the gymnastic coaching position at So. Illinois U. at Carbondale to re-start a gymnastics program. He remained at SIU for 33 years where he coached three teams that won NCAA silver, (1961, ’62, & ’63) and four NCAA Team gold medals, (1964, ’66, ’67 & ’72).  He coached 15 NCAA individual event winners, 55 All Americans, two Nissen Award winners, 4 Olympians, 4 World Championship team members and 6 Pan American Games team members. He was manager of the 1968 Men’s Olympic Team under Coach Jack Beckner. His gymnastic teams set a winning streak for all SIU teams that still stands at 68 consecutive wins. As a coach, he had a major influence on the career choices of his charges.  Olympian (1964) Rusty Mitchell coached at new Mexico, Chuck Ehrlich at No. Illinois, Hutch Dvorak at Houston Baptist, Bruno Klaus at E. Stroudsburg, and Olympian, 1964, Fred Orlofsky at W. Michigan.  Another charge, Roger council became USGF President. Honors/Activities: Bill Meade was a coach or administrator for six Olympic Games.  He was also coach or administrator for dozens of Pan Am Games, World Championships and other major international competitions. After Bill retired from coaching, he was retained by the NGB to serve as a supervisor of podium construction for some 40 international events including the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. He is also an inductee into the SIU Sports Hall of Fame.

Sources: Courtesy of Jerry Wright author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, news, 11-29-04, “A Celebratiion in Carbondale William T. Meade” by A. Bruce Frederick, noted gymnastic historian and author of Who’s Who and Was Who in American Gymnastics. Introduction, commentary, & formatting by Larry Banner, Web Manager.

Biography: MATTHEI, William “Bill”

MATTHEI, William “Bill”
Inducted: 1960
Born: Boston, Massachusetts

Bill Matthei is another unheralded name in the history of gymnastics in America, yet his efforts in the early years supporting our sport were credited with reviving what was a declining gymnastic world. Social events had begun to supplant gymnastics in the Turner organization, so his efforts were focused on trying to influence the Turner organizations and the colleges to renew their efforts to field teams. He strongly believed in the physical and psychological benefits of gymnastics, and, in a sense, was a far-back forerunner of the fitness programs of today.

Bill Matthei joined the Boston Turners in 1910 and remained active as a competitor, coach, judge, and promoter for over 60 years. Education: B.S. @ Normal College, (1925) where he competed and was the team Captain, (1924-’25). He earned graduate degrees at the University of Wisconsin, (1927), Northwestern University, (1939), and Indiana University, (1942). Coach: Bill began his gymnastics coaching career at Bay View High School in Wisconsin, and as his career progressed, he coached teams to 1 national title, 5 Midwest titles, 13 Milwaukee and 11 Wisconsin State Championships. Judge: Matthei received his judging certificate and judged in Big Ten meets, (1924-’64). His judging longevity was longer than any judge in any major conference in the U.S. Honors: Recipient of the Ohio State University Big Ten Coach’s Award and the City of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee High School Coaches Awards. General: Matthei was highly instrumental as being one of the pioneers that kept gymnastics alive in the 1930’s and this service plus his coaching expertise dominated his nomination for induction into the U.S. Gymnastic Hall of Fame.

Source: Jerry Wright provided the basic data and photo.

Biography: BRUCE-MARTIN, Wendy


Inducted: 2010

Wendy Bruce-Martin is raising a family, pursuing a degree in sports psychology and helping young gymnasts and their parents realize that having fun is the secret to big-time success. She is an example of a person used to doing the impossible, successfully.

Starting Out:  Bruce, who still uses her maiden name, Bruce-Martin, trained with Brown’s Gymnastics. She is now married and a mother of two.  World Championships: Team Member-Team Bronze, Barcelona, Spain, (1992); Team Member-4th place, Stuttgart, Germany, (1989). Wendy became a World Champion when she and Li Jing won the International Mixed Pairs Competition in 1989. Additional Competitions: Wendy’s accomplishments during her seven-year international gymnastics career included: winning the team title at the USA-Japan event in the Dodge Challenge. (1992); first in the all-around, vault and balance beam at the  USA-German Democratic Republic dual meet of the Pyramid Challenge, (1992); tying for fourth in the all-around at the USA-USSR event in the  McDonald’s Challenge, (1989); winning the gold medal on the vault, uneven bars and floor exercise and finishing second in the all-around and balance beam, Belgium International Gym Masters,(1989); Reese’s Championships-4th UB, 4th BB, (1995); 1994-U.S. Nationals-18th AA, 4th V; 1992– U.S. Olympic Trials-6th AA, U.S. Nationals-4th V, 3rd UB, U.S. Classic-1st AA, U.S. vs. Japan-1st Team, 1st UB, 1st V, Buckeye-2nd AA, International Mixed Pairs 4th AA; 1991-U.S. Nationals-6th V, 6th UB, 5th BB, U.S. Classic-32nd AA;  1990-U.S. Challenge-3rd AA, 1989– World Championships Team Trials-2nd AA, World Championships-11th AA, World Team Trials-1st AA, U.S. Challenge-2nd AA, U.S. Nationals- 4th BB, U.S. Challenge-2nd AA, U.S. Nationals-4th BB, U.S. Classic-6th AA; 1988- U.S. Nationals-21st AA.   National Competitions: Bruce-Martin competed in five U.S. national championships, winning an uneven bars bronze medal in 1992 and finishing fifth in the all-around in both 1989 and 1991. She also won the all-around and vault, and placed second on the uneven bars and floor, at the 1992 U.S. Classic. She was sixth in the all-around at the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials.  Education: Bruce-Martin is a graduate of Seminole Community College. She dropped out of school in 10th grade later earning a GED. “When I was training in gymnastics my attention was so focused that everything other than gymnastics was not important. Now, I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate from college,” she said. “When I was younger, all I focused on was training. Now, I love school and I want to finish. I want a fulfilling career.” After school was completed, I never gave schooling another thought. But after the Olympics I was stuck. I had spent so much energy training for one goal that I did not have a plan for what I was going to do after I had reached that goal.” Wendy recently won the Houghton-Mifflin College Success National Essay Contest and is receiving excellent marks in her classes.  “I am attending school to finish what I started fifteen years ago,” she wrote in the essay.  Bruce hopes to have a career in sports psychology. Professional: Wendy works as a gymnastics coach, a fitness professional, and speaker. She is an inspirational speaker on women’s and sports topics, including mental toughness training. Family:  Husband-Dennis Martin, Daughters-Cameron and Samantha.

SOURCES: [email protected]: . Head and shoulders photo from Wendy’s Facebook profile, by permission.  Other photos taken from public sources (Google), 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.

Biography: LIENERT, Walter

LIENERT, Walter “Lefty”

Inducted: 1974
Born: Chicago, IL

At some time long past, many pebbles were dropped into pools of water. Each created ripples that may be thought of as generations within families.  We are part of a gymnastic family and have ripples that represent the generations of athletes, coaches, judges, and other contributors who have brought gymnastics to the world arena of today.  Walter “Lefty” Lienert is a major contributor in the concentric circles of gymnastic generations. Without his circle, numerous members of the gymnastic family would not have experienced the “thrill of victory” or the wonderful feeling of belonging inherent in the gymnastics family.

General: At the age of six, Walter Lienert was taken to the Lincoln Turners by his mother where he began to learn the basics of gymnastics.  He continued his gymnastics at Lane Tech High School and learned more gymnastics at the Normal College of the American Gymnastics Union (IU), but within three months of enrolling, he was drafted and served in the Navy, (1942-1945). He saw action against U-Boats in the Atlantic and ventured through the Panama Canal to Guam and China toward the end of WWII.  Walt returned to Normal College-IU for three years and then received his B.S. degree in physical education from Indiana U. that had assumed ownership of the Normal College.  He continued at the Normal College of Indiana U. teaching physical education and gymnastics. Walt was classified as a Turnverein coach for the evening classes. Eventually, he received permission to use the gymnasium during times when classes weren’t in session and developed a gymnastic exhibition team as coach of the Athenaeum Turners. A short time later, he organized an annual invitational competition at the school that lasted 14 years.  Throughout, he followed the philosophical traditions of the Turnverein of developing character through gymnastics or, if you prefer, attracting persons of character to gymnastics. He was Muriel Davis’, HOF Honoree-1981, first coach, and also coached Sandra Ruddick, Sharon Phelps, and Myra Perkins.  All four women competed in the National AAU Olympic Tryouts, (1956). Muriel won gold in FX (T) and placed 6th in AA at the tryouts thereby making the Melbourne team. Sandra earned Gold-AA and Gold-BB, UB, & V to become the 2nd of four Lienert coached girls to make the Melbourne team. Walt was selected as one of several women’s coaches and met with the woman’s team to help with the pre-competition training in Melbourne. Lienert had been Myra’s coach when she won the AAU Jr. Nationals, (1956) as well.  These tryouts were reputably the first major competitions for Muriel and the other girls. A number of his trainees continued gymnastics enrolling at the gymnastic powerhouses of the time, Penn State, U. of Illinois, Florida State U. et al. After his experiences in Melbourne, Walt saw a need for a basic book on UB skills, so he wrote the first book about basic skills on the UB, The Modern Girl Gymnast on the Uneven Parallel Bars (See Insert). His wife, Mary, did all the artwork.Lienert’s enthusiasm and persistence were responsible for developing with Otto Ryser and Claire Jennett the sport of gymnastic competitions at the high school level in Indiana. This change included a culminating State Championship. Gymnasts from about 22 high schools participated in the first state championships and other schools quickly developed teams and joined the gymnastic parade to become the State Champion.  Witnessing the amazing success of the state gymnastic competitions, the Indiana State Department of Athletics assumed responsibility for the program throughout the state.  Over many years scholarships were successfully funded, and numerous young men and women benefited and progressed to perform at national and, like Terry Spencer and Muriel Davis, international levels. At over 80 years young, Lienert continues to participate by having a gym facility and classrooms on his 26-acre farm in Marion County, Indiana. The gymnastics camp is currently hosted by the Normal College, IU.  Pictured above along with Walt is a Narragansett Equipment Co. buck. It has metal pommels and is very heavy.  It has retractable wheels to roll it, but it took an entire team of gymnasts or horses to get it from place to place. By the time Walt’s concentric circle of progress reached the 50’s generation, the original “buck” or “Vaulting Buck” (See Photo Insert) occasionally equipped with pommels but more frequently without them became a side horse and later became known as a pommel horse (PH) with leather covered pommels. New generations of gymnasts began to improve performances. The “Moore” move on the PH was already popular, the 1960 Finnish Olympic PH Champion was working behind his back, and the generation of the great Kurt Thomas was introduced to the “Flair.” Now the latest innovation in men’s gymnastics seems to be a full-twisting layout and re-grasp on the HB. Walt Lienert was a gigantic influence in the development of gymnastics competitions in the U.S. Those who follow in the footsteps of his generation should remember him as one of the persons who created the footsteps just as he remembers following in the footsteps of those who preceded him. Family: m. Mary Smyrnis b. Indianapolis, IN. Children: Two sons, Kurt & Kris. Grandchildren: One boy and one girl.

Source: Interviews with “Lefty” Lienert, contributions courtesy of A. Bruce Frederick author of Who’s Who and Was Who in American Gymnastics, Jerry Wright author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, and photos courtesy of A. Bruce Frederick and Bruce Davis. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Larry Banner, Web Manager.