Originally published as a Letter to the Editor to the Northfield News, September 18, 2018
To the editor:
I was on the Northfield Gymnastics Team starting in 1990, and on the high school team from 1994–99. I knew the club was special at the time (I wrote my college application essay about being a gymnast), and all these years later it’s even more apparent to me just how precious it was. As someone who didn’t throw the fanciest tricks or score the highest, I still felt like I could contribute and be welcomed and encouraged to do my best, from elementary school through to high school. It was a nurturing community that didn’t play favorites, treated everyone equally and allowed us to be independent, unique young women.
I don’t think I’ve ever felt as proud to be a part of something, and the love and support from the coaches, parents and other gymnasts is something I carry with me even today.
With all the scandal surrounding USA gymnastics now, it’s surprising to outsiders that my experience as a gymnast was so drastically different than the stereotypes. I attribute that to the incredible community at Northfield Gymnastics Club and the Midwest Amateur Gymnastics Association, and the fact that it wasn’t about developing Olympic athletes but about developing classy, strong and powerful women. My dad, Ken Bank, was one of the many parents who made that community possible, and I can say for certain his involvement and leadership would not have happened in an environment that was about the success of the top few rather than all.
I know that times change, but any decisions that diminish the strong sense of community at the NGC, such as preventing a new lease with the NHS team, are against the wishes of those of us who built the club, gained so much from our time there and want that same opportunity to be given to a new generation.
Having a community means that decisions aren’t made by one or a few. A community means transparent decision-making and the chance for all to be involved and know who else is involved. A community means the ability to join together and stay together rather than be divided. Community is more important than the success of one or a few individuals — it is something that is harder and harder to find in the world, and I hope the NGC continues to embody this community spirit.