The Summer of 1996

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

It's the summer of 1996.

My priorities include: buying candy cigarettes from the gas station, waiting for the Swans man to deliver more drumsticks to my house, and practicing my routine on the trampoline.

Not just any routine. It was going to be my routine for the 2004 Olympics. I was realistic enough to admit to myself I wouldn't make it in time for the 2000 Olympics, that meant I had less than four years to train. Even an athlete like my nine year old self couldn't pull off such a feat.

So I settled for 2004. The only downfall was that I would be 17 and not 14 like my idol Dominique Moceanu. I read somewhere that she was only 14 when she competed in '96 and I became obsessed. She was the teeny little gymnast with the Minnie Mouse voice that everyone loved. Beyond just practicing my back hand springs on the trampoline, I also worked on raising my husky man voice in attempt to sound more like Moceanu.

I was glued to our fat TV that summer watching the Dream Team compete. I wore my red, white, and blue 4th of July swimsuit to bed every night just in case I'd get the call. The call to fill in for someone and compete. At which point I'd fly to Atlanta (in my swimsuit) and do what needed to be done for America. I knew it was a long shot, but crazier things had happened, right?

The girls were everything to me. Their floor routines where they'd sassily pull out their scrunchies mid performance and the entire audience would literally gasp at their boldness. It was so risque.

And who could forget the vault. The vault. I get teary thinking about it. Watch this and try not to get chills. When she falls to the ground and the announcers yell "she's hurt! Kerri's hurt!" I crumbled. All of America did.

Out of shear respect for Kerri I refused to land a kart wheel on anything but one foot for the entire summer. If she could land her vault one footed, well the least I could do was land my kart wheel like that.

It became clear the summer of '96 that it was my destiny to be an Olympic athlete. Not just for me. For my country.

And so I practiced. From 9 a.m.- 9 p.m. every day. *I mean from 4 p.m.-5p.m because that's when I got home from the pool.

I could do every trick imaginable on the trampoline. It's in my blood. I'm sure you already know this, but my mom is actually in the 1975 World Record Book for jumping on a trampoline the longest. See below.

Back flips, front flips, round offs, ariels, back hands springs, slap daddys, twirly bobs, kanoodle dos, tag alongs, do-si-dos, thin mints,  I could do it all.

Sadly the one thing I couldn't do was make "the team" at the YMCA gymnastics audition the following fall.

So I practiced even harder the next summer. *I mean I got pissed off the at the YMCA and said forget that shit and quit gymnastics on the spot and moved on to another sport. Swimming.

Do I ever regret quitting? Sometimes. But then sometimes I have to think that maybe it's okay I left my glory days in the summer of '96. I'm not sure I would have liked competing without my girls. It just wouldn't have been the same. We gave it our all that summer and that's nothing to hang our head about.

Olympics come and go, but heroes live forever.
Me and Kerri, we are heroes. She for her vault landing and me for always winning "crack the egg" on the trampoline.

So to the 1996 Dream Team, I say thank you. Thank you for giving me something to dream about.

And ultimately fail at. JK, love you all!

*My mom is not in the world record book, by the time they printed a new edition (printing took a while in the late 70s) the record had been broken. Never the less, her legacy lives on.

For all of the other dreamers out there, this shirt can be found here.


  1. Omg. I was OBSESSED with the '96 gymnasts. No trampoline stories here, but I did win the summer lakehouse diving contest with stylized Kerri Strug and Shannon Miller routines.

    That shirt is all mine. Haha!

  2. The #2 thing I learned after reading this post, after learning you really were a rock star in the 90s (I mean that figuratively, that'd be a whole other thing) - is that Kart wheel is spelled with a K. Thanks for that education and also the girl scout cookie craving.

    1. no way, did I really spell it right??

  3. The '96 Gymnastics Olympics were amazing!!! I think ever 90's child was obsessed with them. No other gymnastics team has lived up to them yet. Oh & I love the shirt!! I'm buying it now so I can wear it all summer long :)

  4. 1996-2014 is a long time to train! ;)

    1. damn you. ;) my mom just told me I was off a little lol..

  5. I still sit glued to the TV during the gymnastics portion of the Summer Olympics. However, I don't think any gymnastics competition will trump that 96 team and their accomplishments! I still get goosebumps thinking about how awesome that team was.

  6. you just described my childhood perfectly! finally someone else thought their swimsuit was a leotard, waiting for the USA team to call me! girl, we still go this!

  7. Where can I find those shorts???! Those are EVERYTHING!

  8. I agree ^! Where can I get the shorts?

  9. The '96 gymnastics were like my everest. my rockstar heroes. watching that video seriously almost made me cry.

  10. I lived and breathed gymnastics from the time I was 5 until I had to make the decision when I was 17 whether or not to train seriously, basically giving up high school to do so (I stayed home and went to school lol... No way was I ever going to be THAT good). I totally need this shirt haha!

    Oh, and those drumsticks were the bomb... Best part of that delivery for sure!


  11. I love that shirt! Gymnastics are always fun to watch & I had also hoped that I would be able to participate...but I could only do cartwheels & round-offs, don't think that would get me anywhere. Tee hee!

  12. I still can't watch that vault without tearing up. Hell, I can't even THINK about it without tearing up!

  13. Summer of '96! Yes, take me back! I had the Olympic Gymnast Barbie and she was my favorite! Even after my dog chewed one of her arms off!