Inducted: 1979 Born: October 24, 1935. Hurley, New Mexico
Armando Vega is another of the great products of the Los Angeles City Unified High School District sports program. He played football and was a national gymnastics champion before graduating from Woodrow Wilson High School. During the 50’s and 60’s, it was common for serious high school gymnasts to finish training at their respective schools and then find an evening practice gym where the area Olympians and national champions were training, so Armando was often found practicing at Lincoln High or Los Angeles High in the evenings with Olympians Jack and Dick Beckner, Bill Tom, and Charlie Simms. His dedication and perseverance resulted in his becoming a national championship medal winner while still in high school.
Olympic Games: Team member, Melbourne, Australia, (1956); Team member [A], Tokyo, Japan, (1964). National AAU Championships: As a high school senior, Armando won Silver-PB, (1954) and thereafter competed for Penn State U. and the L.A. Turners. Gold-PB, (1957, ’60, ’63 ‘64); SR, (1957, ’63, & ’64); V, (1957, ’63,’ & 64); PB, (1957, ’60, ’63, ’64); FX, (1960 & ’63); Silver-AA, (1957 & ’60); PB, (1954 & ’62); SR, (1956, ’60, ‘& ’62); V, (1958); V, (1958); FX, (1954); Bronze-AA, (1963-1964); PB, (1958); HB, (1957); SR, (1958); V, (1960 & ’62). Between 1954 and 1964, Vega won a total of 33 NAAU Championship medals: 16 gold, 10 silver, and 7 bronze. NCAA: Competing for Penn State University, Armando won Gold six times as follows: AA-2, PB-3, SR-1. EIGL Championships: Vega was outstanding winning Gold eight times as follows: AA-3, FX-2, PB-3. Coaching: After Armando retired from competition, he became a successful coach in a circuitous manner. He began in Mexico City training the Mexican Olympic contenders. Partly because of the high altitude and partly because of Armando’s successes with his athletes, numerous national teams came to train and compete thus giving Armando tremendous insight into the systems, styles, and methods of various countries’ teams and coaches. He quickly learned that consistency was a key ingredient to successful training, and he learned to match a gymnast’s performance and it’s elements to the person rather than to a preconceived idea of what all must do and how they must do it. After about three years he was recruited by North Western State University where he led his team to five Division II National Championships with a W-L record of 43-3, (1968-1972). Having proven himself as a winning gymnastic coach, he was recruited by Louisiana State University as Head Gymnastic Coach and led the LSU team to two Silver Medal NCAA finishes, nine top 10 rankings and a W-L record of 162-51, (1972-1984). In addition, Vega coached his LSU team to 12 consecutive Southern Intercollegiate Gymnastics League Championships, (1973-1984). In total, Armando Vega coached 58 All American gymnasts. Honors: NCAA Coach of the Year, (1977 & 1978); SIGL Coach of the Year, (1973 & 1976). Armando is an Honoree in Woodrow Wilson High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame. General: Armando conducted gymnastics clinics in Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Costa Rica, Spain, Puerto Rico and Afghanistan. In 1961, he taught in the summer gymnastic clinic in Sweden. He also was a judge at the Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexico, (1968). Currently, Armando is engaged in land management, sales, and operations in Panama commuting from his home in Louisiana as necessary. Family. m. Judith Frederic. Children: Michelle Apple-Vega, and Andrea Pitman-Vega. Grandchildren: Taylor Apple and Hayden Pitman.
Sources: Text material and photo courtesy of Jerry Wright, author of Gymnastics Who’s Who, 2005, Interview with Armando who was a teammate with this writer on the 1964 Olympic team in Tokyo. Introduction, commentary, and formatting by Dr. Larry Banner, Web Manager.