From the Philadelphia Inquirer, which dubs the gym that produced Kristen Maloney, Kim Kelly, Geralen Stack-Eaton and others “a gymnastics paradise”:
Formed in the gymnastics dark ages of 1968 with the help of a Philadelphia club, the Parkettes started out in the Strausses’ backyard, then moved to an unheated barn, a church basement, and a room above a concert hall before settling in a state-of-the-art, warehouse-size facility here.
In those 40 years, the program has produced a flock of world-class gymnasts, sending at least one competitor to every Olympics trials since 1976.
And even though the center of the American gymnastics universe has shifted south and west, the Parkettes’ streak will continue this weekend in Philadelphia.
In an era where Bela Karolyi is relegated to crowd-booster and Al Fong has embraced a healthy attitude toward preparing young women to be Olympians, much of the negative press about gymnastics has centered on the relatively sloppy, oft-injured but always super-intense Parkettes.
In some ways it’s too bad. Despite a 2003 CNN documentary that exposed the coaches’ (and, in some cases, parents’) callousness, the gym is still thriving, even if it’s not producing Olympians. Shouldn’t those gymnasts be praised for their accomplishments, instead of it being all about condemning the coaches?