It has been almost two weeks since New Jersey coach Maggie Haney, the former coach of Olympic champion Laurie Hernandez has been suspended for 8 years by USA Gymnastics following the allegations of abuse. Hernandez herself has opened up about her tough experience with the disgraced coach, and now more families of gymnasts are coming forward.
The Mercury News published a story on May 9th, covering the years of Coach Maggie’s reign of terror since 2016. One of the accounts describes Haney screaming at an unnamed gymnast to try a new skill on the uneven bars, which resulted in her hitting her head on exposed cement. The coach and her assistant began to laugh at the gymnast before realizing she was having seizures. She had two skull fractures and suffers from migraines to this day.
The interviews and documents acquired for the Haney case describe how she “pulled gymnasts by their hair, swore, and screamed at them, body shamed, ridiculed, and called them “retarded.” She also tried to guilt-trip them, threatening to kill herself if top gymnasts would leave her MG Elite Club.
Haney made gymnasts perform while injured, removing boot casts and other protective medical devices, The Mercury News article says.
The emotional and physical abuse from Maggie Haney had such a severe impact on her gymnasts, many of whom were still preteens, that they still have panic attacks, nightmares, suicidal thoughts, depression, self-harm tendencies, and eating disorders. The article quotes a text message one of the gymnasts sent to her mother after another one of Haney’s outbursts at the gym: “I try to pray to God and ask him for help but he never listens.”
Many are still displeased with the verdict that strips Maggie Haney from her coaching privileges for eight years.
“Eight years is not enough,” said Katherine Starr, an Olympic swimmer and founder of Safe4Athletes. “There’s nothing in that way of coaching that brings any value or betterment to an athlete. Clearly her emotional temperament is not compatible with coaching any athlete.”