LANSING - John Geddert, owner of Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, said in a letter to families whose children train there that he is preparing to retire.
Hours after USA Gymnastics announced that Geddert had been suspended from membership, he sent an email Monday night to "Twistars families" saying, among other things, that he has been preparing to retire at age 60, the age he has reached.
"Most of you have noticed that I have been taking a back seat this year," Geddert said. "This has been part of my exit strategy to retire at age 60. Well 60 is here."
USA Gymnastics oversees competitive gymnastics in the United States. Under USAG bylaws, a suspended member cannot coach at sanctioned events, among other restrictions.
Geddert, of Grand Ledge, coached the 2012 U.S. Olympic women's gymnastics team. He also worked closely with now disgraced former MSU physician Larry Nassar, who was allowed to treat patients in a backroom at Twistars.
Nassar's sentencing hearing on sexual assault charges is in its second week in Ingham County Circuit Court. He'll be sentenced on additional charges in Eaton County, related to his work at Twistars Dimondale location, later this month. He has already been sentenced to serve 60 years on federal child pornography charges.
In the email, which was obtained by the Lansing State Journal, Geddert also admitted he's "not perfect" and said he remains "deeply committed to protecting the safety and well-being of our students." Read the entire email at the end of this story.
"I know my shortcomings as a coach: I have high expectations and high standards, and I am passionate about coaching our gymnasts to realize their full potential," Geddert said. "Sometimes the intensity is challenging - both for our gymnasts and their coaches."
Geddert founded Twistars in 1996; its primary competitive training center is in Dimondale, with a second location in DeWitt.
Geddert said his "exit strategy" started last fall with a reduced coaching role and that he plans to turn over responsibilities to Twistars' "very capable staff."
"Gymnastics has been my life for 45 years," Geddert said. "I really know nothing else. I have poured every ounce of my being into creating a place where aspiring kids could be challenged and directed towards their goals."
Messages left Tuesday afternoon for Geddert were not returned.
Chris Bergstrom, Geddert's Lansing-based attorney, said in an email Monday night that his client "only wishes to convey his heart-felt sympathy to all victims of Nassar’s abuse."
Bergstrom added "any further comments will distract from the victims’ statements at Nassar’s sentencing before Judge (Rosemarie) Aquilina."
In Geddert's email to families, he appeared to criticize USA Gymnastics and its decision to suspend him. He said he will "fight these allegations at the appropriate time and place."
"At a time when we should only be paying attention to the courageous young women who have demonstrated their commitment to the truth, the governing body of our sport is doing everything to upstage their victim statements," Geddert said. "I can't express in words the anger, frustration and sense of helplessness we feel with regards to the Nassar criminal cases now going on in court."
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