By Bill Althaus

bill.althaus@examiner.net

 

 

As Terin Humphrey enjoyed a sandwich at her favorite Blue Springs Goodcents Deli, she couldn’t help but grin.

“It seems like all I’ve done lately is eat,” said the former GAGE gymnast, who just recently returned home to Blue Springs after spending 63 days on the road touring with the 2016 Final Five U.S. women’s gold medal team as they crisscrossed the country doing a post-Olympic tour to sold-out venues from coast to coast.

One night, she might be joining the best gymnasts in the world as they met their fans, another night she was backstage making sure their costumes and gear were in proper order.

“We had a lot of snacks on that tour,” she added, with a chuckle. “I think I gained three pounds – but it was worth it. I had a lot of fun, we all did.”

Humphrey has accomplished it all in the world of gymnastics. She won team gold at the 2003 World Championships, two Olympic silver medals in 2004 (an individual on the uneven bars and a team medal), two NCAA titles for Alabama and is now serving as the athlete representative for the U.S. Women’s Elite Program.

“Being on the committee is intense,” she said. “It’s so interesting to be on the opposite side of things and behind the scenes and decide (along with recently retired Martha Karolyi) who will be representing our country at Worlds and Olympic Games.”

She is also coaching gymnastics at Xtreme Gymnastics in Lee’s Summit and is about to get her license in massage therapy.

“My life has been crazy lately, but it’s going to settle down now that the tour is over,” said the University of Alabama grad, who was an 11-time All-American for the Crimson Tide. “After I graduated, I moved back to the area and was a police officer in Raymore-Peculiar for four and a half years.

“And to be honest with you, I really miss it. But I missed gymnastics, too, and I have been on the Olympic Selection Committee since 2009 and will be the athlete representative until 2019.

“I think there is as much pressure being on the selection committee as there was competing. It’s hard to deny amazing athletes who have devoted their entire lives to this sport a spot on that team. I want to get to know the girls and everything about them – how they can help make our team better.”

When she arrives at training camps, Humphrey is greeted like a member of the family.

“I am their mentor, their mom, someone to listen to – I’m there when the girls need me,” she explains. “They are like my children. I have watched Aly (Raisman) and Gabby (Douglas) grow up so much the past seven years.”

The selection process is nearly as demanding as the competitive aspects, which Humphrey is so familiar with.

“We travel to every competition, training camp and training session,” said Humphrey, who attended Odessa High School. “We figure out who is the most consistent, who is healthy, who can mentally handle the stress, who can be a leader to the team.

“The Olympic Committee gets together after every training session or competition and discusses the progress of each athlete and we select the team.”

As Humphrey talks about her Olympic journey, no one in the restaurant notices that they are eating alongside one of the top performers in the history of her sport.

She even has a move on the beam named after her – The Humphrey – which is a triple turn in the squat position.

“Things are so different for the girls today,” said Humphrey, who debuted a new Olympic tattoo back in 2004 while appearing on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. “There was no social media back when I was competing, and our accomplishments don’t get the same attention the girls get today.

“But that’s OK, I did it because I loved the sport, and it has given so much back to me. I worked hard and made a lot of sacrifices, but the sport has given me more than I ever imagined.”