Courage of 150

by Emma Robson

History was made this week when Larry Nassar, previously the USA Gymnastics team doctor, was sentenced to 175 years in prison for multiple sex crimes. Over 150 incredible women have come together to bring down a villain, inspiring women everywhere along the way. As someone who spent ten years competing and working for USA Gymnastics, I am overwhelmed with pride for my fellow athletes. They have courageously made a stand and have started a powerful movement, but it cannot stop here.

Gymnastics is a sport that requires an enormous level of trust between its athletes and the coaches, staff, and medical personnel who care for them. This is true at all levels, but especially so for those training at elite levels.

Nassar is the obvious villain in this case, but he is not the only one who should be held accountable. How many coaches knew about the physician’s actions and chose to continue to trust him? How many USA Gymnastics staff members were aware of the situation but refused to take action? How many girls were assured that Nassar’s actions were “standard procedure” and “in their best interest?” One man cannot commit this many crimes over this many years and get away with it on his own. How can we prevent future incidents if we ignore the actions of bystanders and instigators, of those who turned a blind eye and were complicit in this abuse? This investigation must continue if real change is going to be made, and fortunately, Dr. Nassar’s victims are brave enough and strong enough to make that happen.

As I reflect on the horrible situation at hand, I think of my own teammates, many of whom have trained at the ranch at which Nassar worked, and I am overcome with gratitude and relief. Relief because it could have been them. Relief because it could have been me.

To the women who stood up for themselves and so many others, I cannot thank you enough. You have made history by paving the way for change and teaching countless young athletes that their voices are just as strong as their bodies.

To my coach and my own gymnastics family, I am inspired by you every day. Now more than ever, I am extremely grateful for the community we shared. The trust and support you so selflessly provided will influence me for the rest of my life. My hope is for every gymnast to have the gift that I had - a coach worthy of your utmost trust.

To Larry Nassar, you have taken advantage of countless women in times of vulnerability. You have abused the trust and power these athletes placed in your hands. Your sentence might prevent you from hurting more people in the future, but it will never undo the pain you have inflicted upon so many innocent women and their families.

And to USA Gymnastics, your time is up.

Emma Robson