On July 31, we heard a great sigh settle upon the gymnastics land. Some were sighs of relief, others were sighs of needing to do “do overs”. Either way, a great lesson was learned, not only for the judges that sat (for the first time ever) for their “electronic” tests, but for the USAG test administrators who put the whole thing together.
What was my experience? Well, keeping in mind that this new testing process was a huge step in digital integration for USAG and NAWGJ, the strange thing is that I wasn’t necessarily concerned about the electronic testing portion, as I had done electronic tests before when I took my respiratory boards. What I was thinking during this process was, “why aren’t these testing centers more prepared?”
Seriously, they run a testing center that literally is in control of the end result for thousands of people who have studied days, weeks and months for not only the gymnastics exam but firefighters, nursing, civil service, police exams, etc. More exams than we are aware of. Then why did we have to deal with computers that are inadequate to handle a high definition video, needed sound (but no headphones), fast rewind, small spaces and who knows what else.
Well, I am going to play the Devil’s Advocate here and say that every new venture has a learning curve. And on July 19, many of us encountered a big hairpin curve. USAG, I believe, learned that rolling out a test this big is a huge process and sometimes four years isn’t long enough to know the problems that will arise. The lessons that they learned are invaluable to putting together the 2017 Brevet and National testing cycle, and who knows, maybe other tests as well.
Kudos to the USA Gymnastics office for making considerations of not just the exam itself, but the problems encountered by each official at the local testing facilities, and how that process caused frayed nerves, high anxiety, and unknown results, and kudos for NAWGJ for their support for their judges, including "hand holding" and electronic "hugs" during this difficult time.
Hopefully by 2017, the testing centers will have upgraded their equipment to allow for HD video, and their staff will be trained to be able to restart/rewind a video via a master control (or this may be a USAG control issue), and could we please have more space, an area to put our books and papers? We’re not asking for much, just as much thought and work by those that are testing us as the time and work that we put in to study for this exam. That’s all… pretty simple.
Congratulations to all those who survived this new process. Now on to compulsories (woo hoo!).
Kathi Blazek is a National Judge in the state of Colorado.