Teens in BBYO had the opportunity at IC 2023 to meet and learn about Gabby Douglas, three time Olympic gold medal winning gymnast, and mental health advocate. As a part of my Limmud, I had the chance to be involved in an interview with her, as well as a smaller, second interview prior, with a select few BBYO members whose lives had been impacted by gymnastics similarly to Gabby’s.
Leading up to IC, a survey was sent out to attending teens asking if they had a connection to gymnastics, and if so, to fill out a form and apply to be included in a VIP interview with the Olympian herself. Once at IC, teens selected were notified, and were given wristbands that allowed them into the interview room.
Seeing as all who attended were involved in gymnastics throughout their childhood, up to the present day, the interview was designed specifically to be based around the sport; the joys, challenges, and everything in between. Douglas spent the interview discussing topics as light hearted as her favorite skills on each apparatus, to more heavy, serious ones such as the Karolyi camps, and how they may have impacted her. She also was able to open up about how difficult it was for her to have a social life growing up, which in turn, gave others in the room the confidence that they were on the right path, whatever it may be, and that they would end up perfectly fine.
After the VIP interview with Douglas, all teens had the opportunity to participate in a meet and greet with the Olympian herself, along with other guest speakers BBYO had brought in, such as Maddie Ziegelr, Chris Olsen, Michael Evans Behling, and Samantha Logan.
Following these meetups, Gabby Douglas reconvened with a larger portion of teens at IC to be interviewed again. This interview was much larger, and open for any teen who had selected it in their pre-IC delegate surveys. In this interview Douglas discussed topics such as her family life, gymnastics career, and mental health. It was inspiring for everyone in the audience to hear from such a successful athlete of color.
Not only did Gabby Douglas answer each question thoughtfully and whole-heartedly, she responded in a very humble manner, which earned her a lot of respect from members of BBYO who were starstruck by her presence. At the end of the interview, the floor was opened up to questions, which ranged from her favorite brisket preparation, to how she faced the struggles of being one of few African American gymnasts to accomplish what she had.
Her power and kindness was easily noticed during these interview sessions, and her words left lasting impacts on all who attended. It was an amazing experience for the members of BBYO who were able to meet her, between gymnasts, people of color, and anybody else who has known her.
Julia Megibow is a BBG living in Commack, New York, who loves gymnastics, all things music (specifically Taylor Swift and Dean Lewis), and will always love a big bowl of fruit!
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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