If you’re new here, welcome to Athlete Voices! We are a news and media brand that turns the spotlight on all thing aesthetic sports, namely, “appearance-oriented” sports such as gymnastics, dance, figure skating, and artistic swimming. We feature exclusive interviews with athletes in these sports disciplines, as well as performers in other performing arts niches Our mission is to humanize and empower these individuals through sharing their stories.
At this point, you may be wondering two things: why the unique focus on aesthetic sports, and how does the title of our brand, Athlete Voices, fit this niche?
The answer to the first question is rather simple. I love aesthetic sports. I first began my sports journey at age 5 as an artistic gymnast, then pivoted to rhythmic gymnastics at 10, and competed until age 15. After suffering a career-ending knee injury, I discovered a new passion in Latin Ballroom dancing at age 17. I have been dancing, competing, performing, and teaching dance ever since. I’ve also explored other styles of movement, including circus arts, figure skating, and most recently, yoga. Simply put, my passion lies at the intersection of performing arts and sport. Wherever there is music that calls to be physicalized and transformed into movement is where my heart lies.
Perhaps the more pressing question is, how does the title “Athlete Voices” capture the essence of aesthetic sports, which is as much an art form as it is a sport?
There are two reasons behind this brand name.
1) Athlete. Too often, I hear individuals not familiar with aesthetic sports characterize sports like rhythmic gymnastics and figure skating as “not real sports” or “too girly.” Even more positive descriptors like “elegant” or “beautiful,” as noted by former Team USA rhythmic gymnast, Jazzy Kerber, are sometimes used to convey the message that aesthetic sports are different from other “legitimate” sports, for reasons spanning the sparkly costumes donned, musical and artistic nature of routines, subjectivity of judging, and general obscurity of such sports (at least in the United States, where I am from). In my opinion, aesthetic sports are both sports and art forms, which is perhaps what makes them so unique. The title Athlete Voices is named in direct opposition to such a common misconception surrounding aesthetic sports. We are athletes. We train anywhere from 4-8 hours each day. Our training is multifaceted: we develop general athletic abilities of strength, flexibility, and coordination, as well as artistic skills like musicality, dance, and performance. At the highest level, these athletes in aesthetic sports have mastered their sport to make routines and skills appear effortless. Such sports are anything, but.
2) Voices. On this platform, we offer athletes a voice to share their stories and their opinions on various topics surrounding the world of competitive sports. Drawing from my personal experience in gymnastics and observations of the authoritarian culture of the sport, many gymnasts from a young age are silenced and taught to never question authority figures such as coaches, judges, and other officials. In the process, these athletes are stripped of their voice and power to self-advocate. To be sure, not all competitive gymnasts’ experiences are the same, and there are certainly gymnasts who have had healthy, positive experiences competing at a high level. The vast majority of gymnasts I’ve interviewed, however, share the experience of toxicity and abuse in their sports careers, to varying degrees. Speaking to other athletes (i.e. figure skaters, synchronized swimmers), this harsh culture seems to permeate across other aesthetic sports– and perhaps power sports– as well. Athlete Voices aims to reverse the top-down power dynamic between coaches and athletes, and lend the mic to athletes, for a change.
In summary, Athlete Voices strives to achieve the following:
– bring greater media attention to aesthetic sports
– debunk the myth that such sports are somehow lesser than their power sport counterparts
– address important topics such as athlete mental health, coaching methodology, and transitioning out of sport
– humanize athletes and de-stigmatize their struggles while inspiring and educating others through their stories
I thank you all again for checking out our website. Subscribe to our website and podcast for more content, including feature articles, blog posts, and exclusive interviews with athletes and performers.
Founder and Editor-in-Chief