The USA Gymnastics Congress Trade Show is one of the highlights of our year! It’s a time to reconnect, in person, with long time gymnastics industry friends and an opportunity to make new connections! It offers us the opportunity to hear from YOU about your equipment and apparel needs, catch up on and discuss gymnastics community issues and, just like so many of you, fan out on meeting gymnastics luminaries!
This year, Mike got to meet one of the gymnastics idols of his youth: Dave Thor!
In our Evolution of GMR blog post we talked about young Mike’s love for the sport of gymnastics. Mike started his career in gymnastics in his teen years when he competed for his high school team team the Lakeside Vikings.
As those were the dark, pre-YouTube days, so Mike and his teammates learned their skills and routines from studying the Olympics on TV which his coach filmed using a Super8 camera. Mike recalls they watched those reels over and over and over again, each time with a fervent interest. Dave Thor (how cool of a last name is that for a gymnast, right?!) was one of the sports’ top athletes. His bio on Sports reference lists his accomplishments:
“Dave Thor attended Michigan State University where he was Big 10 all-around champion for three straight years, 1966-68. He placed third in all-around at the NCAA Meet in 1966 and 1968, winning the Nissen Award in 1968, given to the nation’s top senior collegiate gymnast. Thor competed for the US at the 1967 Pan American Games, winning five medals, with a team gold, and four individual bronze medals in all-around, high bar, pommeled horse, and floor. He also competed at the 1967 World University Games, winning the all-around gold medal. Thor won two national titles, winning on pommels and floor in 1969, when he placed third in all-around.”
US Gymnastics Hall of Fame, explains that Thor competed in the Olympics in 1968, but due to the way things were determined when athletes were tied for an event and All-Around scores were factored in, he was not allowed to compete in the team finals for the US. It’s a real shame, as Dave Thor was a master on the pommel horse in his 1968 Mexico City Olympics optional routine.
Dave and Mike chatted for a while where he told Mike he invented the wrist supports everyone wears these days. They’re essentially the same as our Golden Hands . They watched some archival footage of Dave in action back in the day and Mike got to show him video of him competing in college
Dave remarked, “Look at those inverts!” That was Mike’s DAY MADE!
The trade show was really blessed by gymnastics greats this year. Mike got a hug from long time friend and Olympian Daniela Silivas Harper.
Our equipment salesperson, Rick, brought his daughter Rory, who’s a gymnast herself, as well as a big gym fan. Rory was thrilled to take pictures with all of the gymnastics luminaries there and we were delighted to have her on hand to help!
The other big highlight was all the fun the crew: Mike, Kappy, Patty, Grant, Rick and Rory had with the everyone who stopped by to check out our miniature version of our Sag Bed Pit System.
We were genuinely surprised at how many people stopped to don their thinking caps and enter our Sag Bed Mini-Pit Cube guessing contest. A lot of people got down into the weeds of the math of it and we had a lot of good guess with a few wild what-the-hecks. It was really a lot of fun. Check out the end of the post to see who won!
It was also a great opportunity to talk with folks about how they can retro-fit their present pit to gain all the advantages of the Sag Bed Pit System without having to re-do their pit completely from scratch. Of course, you can always start fresh by creating your gymnastics training pit with a Sag Bed Pit System…
We showed folks who stopped by our booth step-by-step, in pictures, the way we’ve designed the Sag Bed Pit System and how it’s installed. We talked about the benefits which include: number one, increased safety for your athletes, as the bed allows for better deceleration of the physics forces native to training with a pit. Sag Bed Pit Systems are easier to climb out of because the frame of the bed starts 2 feet from the top rather than two feet up from the bottom, Conversely, gymnasts won’t bottom out using our Sag Bed Pit System. Also, coaches and gym club owners will love this one: pit cube fluffing and cleaning is way easier when the gymnastic pit frame starts closer to the top.
Another big hit was our gymnastics grab bags! We’ll definitely be doing those again next year. Coaches said they were thrilled to get a supply of gymnastics themed gifts to bring back to their gym clubs and gyms. They told us they’ll serve as souvenirs from their coaches trip to Congress, holiday gifts and rewards for learning new skills and good teammateship. Some coaches picked up 3 & 4 bags! Priced at $5 and valued from $20 to $56 or priced at $10 and filled with gymnastics themed gifts valued from $75 to $110, our Ten-o gift bags were a smash!
$200 Gift Certificate Winner:
Norten Lacchione, Owner at Northern Elite in Flanders, NJ guessed 1270 right on the nose.
$25 Gift Certificate Winners By Cube Color:
Heather Shepherd, Coach at Gymtowne in Moss Beach, CA guessed 270 out of the total number of 257 pit cubes.
Cindy Miyake from Boulder, Colorado SACC hit 121 of 121 pit cubes.
Blue and Light Grey:
April Sawyer, Pre-school Director at Viking Gymnastics in Niles, IL guessed 129 out of 130 total blue pit cubes and 128 straight up on the light grey.
Kelly Bass, Manager at Gymnastics World in Chatsworth, CA missed it by one guessing 126 out of the total 127 cubes.
Nicole Barsanti, an Xcel coach at Titans Sports in Morgan Hill, CA hit the 125 pit cubes exactly.
Julie Lukela, Coach and Pre-school Director at Gold Country Gymnastics in Grass Valley, CA was only off by one with her guess of 125 out of the 126 total number of pit cubes.
Hannah Hamlin, Coach at Grace Gymnastics in Lakewood, WA nails it at 128.
Logan Dooly, Head Coach and Gym Manager at World Elite Gymnastics in Ontario, CA guessed one over at 130 for the 129 total number of pit cubes.