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December 16, 2017
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Transforming a Cultural Mountain from the Ground Up

Os Hillman • Women in the Workplace
Rarely do we find a story that so demonstrates what it means to influence a cultural mountain as the story of Lynne Ruhl. In the early eighties her seven year old daughter participated in gymnastics just as most American children do at one time or another. However, Lynne's daughter showed particular promise by some competitive gymnastics coaches. She was invited to put her daughter in a competitive gymnastics program that would require her to train for eleven hours a week.

Rarely do we find a story that so demonstrates what it means to influence a cultural mountain as the story of Lynne Ruhl. In the early eighties her seven year old daughter participated in gymnastics just as most American children do at one time or another. However, Lynne's daughter showed particular promise by some competitive gymnastics coaches. She was invited to put her daughter in a competitive gymnastics program that would require her to train for eleven hours a week.

Lynne's first thought was, "I need to get to know anyone who is going to have eleven hours of my daughter's life each week." So she visited with the gym that wanted her to participate. What she found deeply disturbed her. She learned that the environment of competitive gymnastics was so damaging to young girls that she could not let her daughter participate. The girls were ridiculed, shamed and treated like robots. The environment fostered very negative and competitive attitudes between the gymnasts. She hunted for other gyms that did not model such a culture. However, she could not find one.

Her only answer was to buy a gym. After consulting with her husband they found a gym that they felt they could purchase. It was a place in disrepair, but they felt it was the one they were to purchase. However, something happened just before she was to purchase the gym that prevented the purchase but led to her being retained to develop the culture within the very gym they felt they were to be involved with. This too was a divine interruption to her plans, but at the time was seen as a devastating roadblock.

Lynne identified a trainer named Mary Lee Tracy who she felt could understand and implement a healthy culture that valued the girls and built up their self-esteem. Lynne prayed with the girls and invested into their lives emotionally and spiritually. She developed a detailed program for the girls. Mary Lee Tracy was not a follower of Christ at the time and "sort of put up with me" as Lynne says.

However, the tragic death of Lynne's brother led to Mary Lee, along with fifteen others, accepting Christ at the funeral. Mary Lee would now not only embrace the emotional but also the spiritual culture Lynne was creating for the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy.

It took six full years before culture changed for the now 200 girls that were enrolled in her training program. However, the real evidence that they not only changed a culture, but were extremely successful as a result, was when two of their girls - Amanda Borden and Jaycee Phelps -- made the 1996 U.S. Olympic Team and won the gold medal for the United States, the first ever for a U.S. Women's Olympic program.

The notoriety and news-value story that this created put Lynne's gym on the national map for Olympic gymnast's training. She would be called upon to speak and explain why changing the culture in training young girls was so vital primarily for the health of the girls, but it was also going to lead to a successful program. The Olympic trainers listened and Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy became a model for training Olympic gymnasts. Gymnastic organizations from around the world began to send their coaches to Lynne's gym to learn their secret. They became known as the "hospital" for competitive gymnasts. The Head Coach, Mary Lee Tracy, became the assistant coach for the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics teams.

Truly, Lynne and her team had transformed a cultural mountain in a highly developed and competitive industry.

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The Third Awakening AudioBook 3-CD Set, by Mark Cress
Prepare yourself for a fun and fast paced story about how God uses events in the lives of ordinary people to change the course of history for millions. After listening to this audio book, you may never look at yourself, your friends, or the world around you the same way again

Visitor Comments (1)

Lynne Ruhl -Awesome model !!!

I heard Lynne teach on cd about listening. I thought then that she was an amazing follower of Jesus; I did not know the half... How can more of her teaching, testimony, sharing be accessed?




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