Categorized | Club, Featured, Men's Gymnastics, NCAA

StickItMedia Exclusive: ASU Men’s Gymnastics Coach Scott Barclay

Posted on 19 May 2009 by admin

The Arizona State Men’s Gymnastics Team, coached by Scott Barclay, is an excellent example of a successful program that continues to excel despite being kicked in the teeth back in 1993.  Prior to that, the ASU program succeeded for 25 years as a fully-funded Division I entity under Coach Don Robinson.  Thanks to Title IX, the program was unfairly axed, but was soon resurrected as an unfunded club team, and has been coached by Barclay ever since.

Sun Devil Gymnastics was forced to organize as a non-profit 501-C3 booster club consisting of 7-9 board members.  Fundraising consists of booster club memberships and donations, corporate sponsorships and team fundraising events.  One such event was the recent 2009 Region I Men’s Championships. The team members raise approximately 60% of the necessary operating funds to keep the dream alive.  They do this by devotedly doing whatever they can, such as hosting meets and clinics, selling merchandise and doing other various promotions.

The team continues to compete against many NCAA Division I teams and club teams, never short on facing top-notch competition.  Some of the more prestigious meets they take part in include the Pacific Coast Classic, Winter Cup/Black Jack and the Rocky Mountain Open.  Just recently the Sun Devils won the 2009 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Championships, their 11th national title in the club division.  Alex Gaudaur won the All-Around title, while teammates Riley Barclay (Scott’s son) and Charles Baysinger also claimed All-American status.

According to Karen Owoc, Meet Director of the Pacific Coast Classic, Barclay agreed to expand his role as one of their Competition Directors.  "I respect Scott tremendously and greatly admire his tenacious efforts to sustain men’s gymnastics at ASU, and his vision and business acumen to produce a self-sustaining model program.  Scott’s gymnasts have worked tirelessly at the PCC for many years – from setting up and tearing down equipment to assisting with other aspects of the meet – and have demonstrated nothing less than an impressive work ethic and true grit.  I am touched by the respect and appreciation they show to Scott, as it is genuine and well-deserved.  Scott has a multitude of skills, many years of experience and a positive outlook on whatever comes his way.  Scott Barclay is truly one of the finest examples of integrity, leadership and hard work."

The ASU men’s team trains at Aspire Kids Sports Center in Chandler, AZ.  This facility, owned by Barclay, offers programs in cheer, dance, martial arts, swimming, trampoline, tumbling, and of course, gymnastics.  In addition to recreational classes, Aspire has a competitive program for girls and boys.

StickItMedia had the recent pleasure of interviewing Scott Barclay.

SIM:  When did you open the doors at Aspire?

Barclay:  We opened a very small store-front little gym (3,000 sq. ft.) in May, 1995 to get more kids in the sport and to get a little income while I donated my time to the ASU team. That grew from 59 kids to over 450 in ten years which enabled us to build Aspire.  In 2000, ASU tore down the workout gym we had been in for over 45 years with no intent of providing a space for the men’s team (they did build a multi-million dollar women’s facility).  So we basically used a local gym (an old ASU teammate of mine’s gym) for five years as we re-grouped and eventually built Aspire. It took four years from conception to move in with all sorts of problems that we encountered.  We moved into Aspire on Memorial weekend 2005.

SIM:  When did you start your gymnastics equipment business, and what products do you specialize in?

Barclay:  This just evolved from all my contacts within the gym industry when an AAI dealer asked me to help him with sales here in Arizona.  It has grown from there [when we started back around 1997].  It has REALLY helped the ASU team in that Aspire goes out on a limb each fall and purchases two full sets of equipment that we store in our own semi trailer and take around to competitions and rent out to gyms that host junior meets.  We also set up all the equipment and do much of the meet scoring. We even take a full set of men’s equipment up to the PCC meet in Oakland, set up, compete, and tear down at the end in order to be able to be in that meet.  We sell everything from grips to full floor exercise areas and all equipment in between.  100% of the proceeds from renting the meet equipment goes directly to the ASU Team. Then we try to sell the equipment at the end of the season at demo prices which helps out everyone.

The name of the company is "ROV Co."  ROV is a term in judging back when Nadia Comaneci won all her gold medals. The only way to get the highest score of 10.0 was to make sure you included Risk, Originality and Virtuosity in your routines.  I believe the same is needed in all aspects of our lives today to be successful!  Therefore, it is in front of me every day as part of my business.

SIM:  ASU will be competing in Guatemala this summer.  When is that taking place, and how did this opportunity come about?

Barclay:  We will be going there June 25- July 1.  Coach Robinson many times organized international competitions for the ASU team for the purpose of experience and education. We traveled for a month at a time to Australia and Switzerland.  I had many separate privileges to travel to Mexico, France, Israel and the Soviet Union as a gymnast.  These trips provided many long lasting memories and experiences that I could not have had otherwise.  Because of this, I desire to see my teams have similar experiences.  I have wanted to do this for years, but have dragged my feet because of money and time, and when I heard about this small competition in Guatemala, I decided to "just do it!"  Another facet that hopefully makes our program what it is.

SIM: What is your outlook for the ASU program five years from now?

Barclay:  To have a substantial endowment in place and to be able to offer partial scholarships to individuals to help them continue pursuing their dreams and getting a good education.

SIM:  How do you think your operating model for ASU could be successfully implemented by other club teams?

Barclay:  It is definitely doable for those who are stout-hearted, dogmatic, altruistic, positive and… it helps to have a very supportive spouse!

SIM:  Since ASU’s transformation from a fully-funded model to that of self-sufficient model, what changes have you seen in the contributory patterns from alumni and "old-school" gymnasts?

Barclay:  This was (and still is) a definite challenge as many don’t "see" it as the "same old team."  It amazes me how a gymnast can go through four years on a full scholarship from ASU and then never give a dime back to the program to help others (in these more needy times!) who are now pursuing what he did many years ago. If everyone gave just a little very consistently… we would be MUCH better off.

SIM:  Where do you see Men’s Division I Gymnastics five years from now?

Barclay:  Hard to say.  My hope and desire is to see the pendulum swing back at least toward the middle where we can gain some ground back, but I am becoming less optimistic about the reality of this actually happening.  After one year of hard FIGHTING to get our sport back in 1993-94, it became evident to me that my energy was being misspent.  So I decided to channel all that aggravation and energy that I used in fighting to get something BACK, to BUILDING something and being constructive.  It was much better for my mental health also.  I am no longer bitter at what ASU did (although I think it was ridiculous and fruitless!) and I am proud of what our organization has accomplished in now reaching over 1500 kids a week while at the same time providing for the needs of the ASU team.  As hard as it has been on me and my family, the big picture couldn’t be better!

SIM:  If you were king, what changes would you implement in how the U.S. produces its feeder programs for the Olympic Team?

Barclay:  That’s a reaching hypothetical!  But IF I were…. I would mandate gymnastics in all grade-school PE curriculums in the country.  Not only for the sake of creating a huge base for competitive athletes, but for the good and health of our future generations.  We now have the highest child obesity rate ever in our country with all our knowledge!  We have seen a reportedly 54 percent increase in the prevalence of obesity among 6-11 year olds!  Actually, I would mandate that all grade schools put PE in their curriculum since only one state in the Union (Illinois) even still mandates it!

SIM:  How would you reform Title IX?

Barclay:  I would only ask that it be applied fairly and across the board.  Do they use the same standard in the dance or music departments in the universities that they use in athletics?  The pendulum has just swung way too far to one side.  Let’s bring it back to the rational middle where ALL can benefit.

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