December 22nd, 2018
Gymnastics is a sport that can be difficult to get funding at any school level, especially at the college level. Student athletes who have gone out-of-state sometimes wonder if they will ever have the opportunity to participate in gymnastics in their home state.
Texas is a US hotbed for gymnastics but doesn't offer the D-I sport in college. Most gymnasts would love to keep a family in-state college tradition, but finally come to realize that it likely won't be possible. The 2016 U.S. Olympic gymnast and Dallas native had several relatives on her dad's side attend the University of Texas. Gymnasts that make it to the college level gymnastics wonder what would've happened if they had the option to compete in college gymnastics in their home state.
There are many gymnasts who want to stay in Texas if they could just find a program with the funds and get some good coaching staff. Oklahoma, which has four Texas gymnasts on its roster and has won two of the last three national titles, is also a top contender. Coach K.J. Kindler and her staff emphasize recruiting in Texas, marketing proximity to home. "If any Division I institutions in Texas were to implement gymnastics," Kindler said, "they would have the opportunity to win a national championship within five years."
Coaches and other advocates of the sport acknowledge that sustaining a gymnastics arena is a challenging and expensive sport to finance. The type of equipment and facilities needed to accommodate the sport is unique, thus, creating a problem for justifying it's limited usage. The Pommel horse, parallel bars and rings for example, can't be used as training applications for other sports activities. On the other hand, athletes who use basketball and volleyball courts can all share the same court at different times. A multi-purpose sportsplex stadium can double as football, baseball, soccer and track stadiums, making them monetarily feasible.
NCAA gymnastics does not generate revenue like football or basketball, and a full season's schedule often requires air travel and extensive planning. There have been suggestions made, such as renting time at a local private club facility if a school doesn't have one on campus. Also creating endowment funds to provide start-up contributions for interested Texas universities.
Arguably, you can ask any Texas athlete if they would rather attend a Texas school instead of going out-of-state and about 90 percent of them would probably say "yes!" Lane said. Once you have one school to add gymnastics in Texas that's Division I, it's going to be such a fight for those kids that want to stay.
The Texas Talent Pool
There's no doubt that Texas has a rich history of gymnastics. In the last four Olympic periods, four women's gymnastics have lived or trained in Texas. Three of the last four Olympic all-around champions,. Simone Biles (2016), Nastia Liukin (2008) and Carly Patterson (2004) -- are from Texas.