As Terin Humphrey walks into her former home away from home, the GAGE Center in Blue Springs, she spots a billboard size banner that features one of her floor routines.
Her mind goes back to the 2002 and 2003 World Championships and the 2004 Olympics, where she was part of the silver medal-winning team and also earned an individual silver on the bars.
“Gosh, that seems like such a long time ago,” said Humphrey, who was an 11-time All-American at the University of Alabama before a series of injuries forced her retirement on March 18, 2008. “It’s funny – as I look around the GAGE Center now, I wish it would have been like this when I was training here. They have so many great things, and it’s so much larger – I spent a lot of hours here, and it was worth it. It was worth every minute.”
Humphrey will join Missouri sports icons like former University of Missouri head football coach Gary Pinkel, Kansas City Chiefs Pro Bowl center Tim Grunhard and Kansas City Royals director of scouting Art Stewart for the induction ceremony Jan. 31 of the 2016 class for the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield.
She is the first gymnast inducted into the prestigious hall. She is also a member of the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame as an individual and as part of the 2003 world championship team. That was the first U.S. women’s team to claim the world title.
“I was nominated 10 years ago ... and nothing ever really happened so I had forgotten about it,” said Humphrey, who was a Raymore-Peculiar Police Officer for 4 1/2 years before retiring her badge and getting back into the world of gymnastics, where she is currently a member of the Extreme Gymnastics and Trampoline staff in Lee's Summit and a member of the USA Gymnastics Women’s Selection Committee along with Olympic legend Martha Karolyi.
“When they called and congratulated me on being inducted, I was honored. I really was, but I was also kind of thinking, ‘What took so long?’”
She wasn’t the only one with that thought.
Longtime Olympic coach and GAGE owner/coach Al Fong felt the same way.
“Why did it take this long for her induction?” Fong asked. “She is in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame as an individual and as part of the first women’s world championship team. I’m happy for her and proud of her. She overcame a lot to achieve her hopes and her dreams, and it was so special to see her standing on the podium as an individual and with her team at the 2004 Games in Athens.”
While Humphrey credits Al and Armine Fong for her success in the gym, she believes her parents provided the mental toughness it took to overcome disappointment, injuries and six- to eight-hour days at GAGE.
“We moved down to Grain Valley when I was 11,” Humphrey said. “We'd lived in St. Joseph and I was training at a local gym, but we’d heard about Al and GAGE and my folks came down and talked to Al.
“Al said I could be an Olympian, and I’m like, ‘Yeah, right,’ but he was right. I got here when I was 11 and seven years later I was with the United States women’s gymnastics team. It was all pretty unbelievable. My parents, Steve and Lisa, taught me how to be tough and work hard. I owe them so much.”
Humphrey was a member of the U.S. National Gymnastics team for six seasons beginning in 1999. She represented the U.S. in nine international meets, including the 2002 and 2003 World Championships.
“She made her mark at the World Championships,” Fong said. “She never really got the attention she deserves, but she soon became a force to be reckoned with.”
Humphrey’s path to the Olympics was filled with potholes and detours. The U.S. gymnastics team takes only six girls who survive a demanding training regimen and a series of events such as classics, nationals, worlds and Olympic trials. Even then, nothing is guaranteed, as Humphrey was briefly dropped from the team in 2003 despite showing well.
She needed a break, and it came during the World Championships as the U.S. team lost one member to a knee injury and another fell ill. With no time to warm up, Humphrey pulled off the impossible as she turned in one of the best rotations on the floor.
“Losing my place on the team fueled my fire,” she said. “I thought to myself, ‘The next Olympics, I’m going to make sure you have no reason to take me off the team.’ At Worlds, I was going to make sure they had no reason to take me off the team again.”
She was a rock solid member throughout the remainder of her amateur career.
At Athens, she competed on bars and beam in the team finals and contributed solid scores of 9.587 and 9.487. She also earned the silver medal on the uneven bars and introduced a new skill now referred to as “The Humphrey.”
She then went on to win the 2005 and 2007 NCAA Championships in uneven bars for the University of Alabama.
“It all seems like it went by so fast,” she said, laughing. “I remember when I was a little kid, 2 or something, and I was climbing all over everything and climbing up the kitchen cabinets and my mom said she had to find something for me to do.
“It turned out to be gymnastics.”
And that turned into an iconic career that finds her alongside the elite athletes in the history of the state in the Missouri Hall of Fame.
“I’m not sure what to expect at the Hall of Fame ceremony,” she said, “but it will be so cool to have my mom and dad and brother (Shannon, a Blue Springs police officer) there to watch my induction. I know it will be special for me, but it will be even more special for them, because I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish any of this without their love and support.”