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Sunday, April 7, 2024

Why Everybody Loves Whitney Bjerken – An Outdated College Gymnastics Weblog

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Whitney Bjerken lately introduced her retirement from gymnastics, solely she didn’t use the phrase “retire” whereas saying it. Whitney repeatedly used the phrase “give up” as a substitute. The phrase “retirement” has connotations connected to it and is usually utilized by gymnasts after a protracted and profitable profession. However that’s not the tone Bjerken wished to take. As an alternative, Whitney wished to replicate a message that she herself has given up, and has turned her again on targets that may now go unfulfilled.

Gymnastics usually produces tales of the warrior athlete who by no means quits. Gymnasts resembling Oksana Chusovitna, Gabby Douglas, and Yulia Biryulya. Gymnasts who function wonderful position fashions educating us to battle by adversity, to by no means cease making an attempt, and to by no means flip your again by yourself targets. Chusovitina, Douglas, and Biryulya present an vital educating second.

However so do gymnasts who retire younger like Denisa Golgota and now Whitney Bjerken.

Gymnasts ought to by no means be afraid to say “no” to the game. That gymnastics is vital, however so are different issues in life. Gymnastics is a sport that’s supposed to provide gymnasts pleasure, not be a burden. For Whitney Bjerken, gymnastics had turn out to be precisely that. Whitney summed up her emotions by saying:

“I really like the game however I hate doing it at this level. And I hate that I hate doing it, however I simply do.”

Whitney has spent virtually her whole life as a job mannequin for younger kids. She is greatest recognized for a gymnastics themed YouTube channel that now has 1.6 million subscribers. The channel has been round for thus lengthy that Bjerken who lately turned 18 has movies on her channel going again to when she was solely 5 or 6 years outdated. Whitney was successfully a baby star on YouTube and amongst the primary technology of such little one Web personalities to exist.

However like her modern Olivia Dunne of TikTok fame, gymnasts who double as social media celebrities are sometimes subjected to unfair criticisms that they aren’t nice athletes. Outsiders deal with them as figures who’re solely related as a result of they’ve a big private fanbase, and refuse to imagine they’re additionally completed athletes. In Whitney Bjerken’s case, she was as a lot a embellished athlete as she was a well-liked YouTube persona.

In her youthful years Bjerken persistently ranked as one of many top-100 gymnasts inside her age group on the nationwide degree. Whitney was on observe for a powerful profession the place she would have damaged into the elite degree, maybe certified to the highest home competitions such because the U.S. Classics or Nationwide Championships. If issues went effectively, maybe Whitney might earn a spot on the Nationwide Staff.

The one cause that by no means occurred is as a result of gymnasts want somewhat little bit of luck to be able to succeed and Bjerken had the worst form of luck. Accidents to the elbow isn’t the commonest sort of damage in gymnastics. However for the gymnasts who’ve accidents to this space of the physique, it rapidly turns into a serious profession impediment. Then got here a development spurt which for a younger aspiring teenager like Whitney, solely made it that a lot more durable to succeed.

Regardless of the misfortune, Whitney stored at it and was capable of make her dedication to the College of Alabama. Despite the fact that there wouldn’t be an Olympics for Whitney, gymnastics followers continued to carry her in excessive regard. Gymnastics followers take into account Bjerken the perfect at performing wolf turns and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that many really feel she is the easiest on this planet at performing this particular ability.

Gymnastics purists don’t view Whitney as some irrelevant low-grade gymnast who solely will get talked about as a result of she has a well-liked YouTube channel. They adopted her profession carefully and when the day got here that Bjerken introduced she is quitting gymnastics, the feedback ranged from one fan calling it a tragic day, one other saying “I’m going to overlook her gymnastics.” The departure of Whitney Bjerken provoked a response from gymnastics followers as emotional as any main retirement in latest reminiscence.

However how does a gymnast who spent her life increase a big gymnastics fanbase on social media, give up gymnastics? Whitney herself referred to as it nerve-racking and said she is anxious that she’s going to expertise a mass exodus of followers leaving her channel. At one level, Whitney referred to as it “scary” after which corrected herself to say “really it’s terrifying.” For Whitney, her social media platform isn’t only for enjoyable, it’s her livelihood.

Fan reactions on Twitter to Whitney Bjerken’s retirement announcement.

It speaks to the bravery and braveness of Whitney Bjerken that she is taking up this problem, and the dangers related to it. However Bjerken desires to do what’s greatest for herself and pursue the actions that make her joyful. Putting that above all else. The only largest cause Whitney gave for her departure is that she wished to start out specializing in the actions that she’s going to be capable of do for the remainder of her life. Not gymnastics the place beneath the perfect case situation, she would have been retired 4 years from now when her NCAA eligibility runs out.

Whitney does this all whereas having the braveness to say she merely misplaced her ardour for the game and willpower to maintain doing it. Whitney might have simply lied, claiming she was retiring for medical causes and nobody would have recognized in any other case. However Whitney had far an excessive amount of integrity to keep away from being truthful, even when she didn’t need to be.

Bjerken leaves behind a gymnastics channel that offered a lot worth to the game. Whitney Bjerken was the quintessential position mannequin, offering movies that had been each bit as academic as they had been entertaining. Whitney gave an actual perspective on what gymnastics competitions had been like. She revealed movies that didn’t simply present her routines, however her equipment warmups, even the pre-competition warmups, and the way she carried herself in between rotations.

Her movies whereas coaching at her dwelling gymnasium went roughly the identical manner, with Whitney showcasing what a full follow session regarded like. Whitney allowed individuals to be taught concerning the gymnastics life-style in a manner they’ll’t see when one watches a gymnastics competitors on tv or any skilled documentary. Bjerken averted displaying merely “highlights” which is how nearly each sort of visible media covers gymnastics.

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What Whitney did as a substitute was give viewers the uninterrupted model of a follow session. Whereas your typical gymnastics documentary would present a bunch of gymnasts coaching on a row of beams, solely showcase a few troublesome abilities with no clarification of what they had been engaged on or how they received to that second, Whitney took a distinct method.

Whitney would present what abilities she warms up with, what number of instances she practices a particular ability earlier than she tries one thing else, whereas viewers can watch her get higher and higher as she does the identical ability a few instances in a row. You could possibly see how usually she took a pause to get some relaxation, how she reacted when she couldn’t full a ability she was making an attempt to be taught, and the way she reacted when she fell.

Valeri Liukin and Whitney Bjerken

Whitney would present what a real, prolonged, and devoted beam session appears to be like like in coaching. Not the hurried, frantic mess that outsiders solely see in podium coaching throughout a gymnastic competitors. Whitney replicated this technique for each side of her gymnastics life. No different type of gymnastics media gave as a lot of an entire image of the game as Whitney Bjerken’s YouTube channel.

In a sport the place movie crews focus all their efforts on the tremendous troublesome abilities like a Yurchenko double pike, Whitney constructed a well-liked model for herself the place the spine of her channel was boring, repetitive, mundane, power constructing workouts that had been so easy anybody can do them. However her success proved that this was the content material gymnastics followers wished, a glimpse into the lifetime of a gymnast that was real and unedited.

Bjerken did stuff like movie an episode about how she suffered dozens of warts on her palms. A problem gymnasts are prone to as gymnasts ceaselessly stick their palms right into a shared chalk bucket, whereas concurrently chopping their pores and skin whereas griping the uneven bars. It was an instance of Whitney offering an consciousness to one of many little recognized hassles that gymnasts need to take care of. Her content material offered a lot academic worth that a few of her movies can be utilized as a instrument for web sites like this one to indicate informal sports activities followers a few of the finer particulars of gymnastics that they might in any other case not find out about.

Whitney Bjerken and Elena Arenas

However there was additionally the younger gymnasts who watched her channel and regarded to Whitney for steering. Whitney might all the time be counted on to be a job mannequin for them. From her constructive conduct when followers wished to satisfy her at competitions, to her willingness to reply questions from viewers providing recommendation on find out how to compete whereas going by their menstrual cycle. For a YouTube channel that has been round for greater than a decade, Whitney managed to cowl each matter about gymnastics from probably the most critical to issues as trivial as what she packed in her gymnasium bag earlier than a contest.

When Whitney framed her departure from the game as “quitting” moderately than “retiring,” it was as a result of she had one final video to make. Whitney spent her whole life documenting the lifetime of a gymnast, showcasing each conceivable situation or deadlock a gymnast will expertise in her profession, and giving viewers an opportunity to expertise it themselves. The one plot level that each gymnast will attain is the day they depart the game.

For a gymnast who had spent eleven years documenting the whole lot, Whitney was going to doc this as effectively. Bjerken preserved footage of all of the steps she took as she underwent the method of quitting gymnastics. From calling her future coach on the College of Alabama to tell her she wouldn’t be attending, to requesting a household assembly along with her longtime membership coach the place each side knew precisely what such a request meant. Whitney didn’t merely announce she had give up, she had spent months documenting your entire technique of withdrawing and included it alongside her announcement.

That is Whitney’s final reward to gymnastics, showcasing this expertise to her youthful viewers in order that they’re higher ready for the day once they too may need to embark on the identical painful course of. Maybe because of this Whitney didn’t say she was “retiring” from gymnastics. For her younger viewers who compete recreationally on the decrease degree, they don’t “retire” from the game. They merely give up. Whitney Bjerken determined to border her departure in a manner that matches the views of the gymnasts who look as much as her.

Whitney defined the troublesome technique of coming to phrases with quitting, and overcoming the feelings the place you’re feeling like you’ve left your coach and household down. It follows a profession the place she ceaselessly defined her ideas earlier than or after competitions. In her profession Bjerken had undoubtedly helped numerous gymnasts who had been at or under the L-10 degree. Younger gymnasts who had been capable of watch Whitney’s movies and used her phrases to get a greater understanding as they confronted those self same dangerous emotions themselves.

When Whitney Bjerken began pivoting in the direction of music throughout the previous yr, gymnastics followers took be aware and at instances questioned her sudden curiosity on this matter. However a stunning element about Whitney Bjerken’s YouTube channel that’s so extensively recognized to the gymnastics neighborhood, her very first video really had nothing to do with gymnastics. It was a singing video. Music has turn out to be the defining matter of her life as Whitney is getting into her grownup years, whereas gymnastics appears to outline it much less and fewer.

As Whitney completes her pivot to music, it’s virtually as if she is returning again to the place she belongs and gymnastics was fortunate to have had her for the time that it did.


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