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Ohio State women’s gymnastics honors survivors of sex abuse

Ohio State senior Alexis Mattern wears a teal ribbon during a meet on Jan. 27 to support survivors of sexual abuse. Ohio State joined several programs across the nation in the sign of support. Credit: Courtesy of Walt Middleton | Big Ten Conference

The revelations from the trials and sentencings of disgraced USA Gymnastics and Michigan State team doctor Larry Nassar have tainted the reputation of the sport’s governing body, but that doesn’t compare to the emotional and physical harm done to the nearly 300 girls and women whom Nassar abused, and USA Gymnastics’ failure to alert authorities.

The recovery from exposed systemic issues for USA Gymnastics and, more importantly, the survivors, won’t happen in the interim, but Ohio State has decided it will be a part of that healing process and the dialogue that comes with it.

The Ohio State women’s gymnastics team began wearing teal ribbons during its competitions on Jan. 27 as a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the survivors of sex abuse around the world.

“The team really just wanted to be supportive in any way that we could to all of the survivors and really make a statement that we stand with everyone that is a victim of any type of abuse,” senior Alexis Mattern said. “And that was something that was close to our hearts. That we just wanted to make sure we were putting our foot out there to be cohesive and to show our support.”

Mattern said it was a collective team decision to wear the ribbons, after seeing multiple other programs do the same. Michigan, Utah, Georgia, UCLA, Illinois and several other programs have worn the ribbons in the wake of the Michigan State and Nassar scandal. Mattern added that showing some sort of support for the victims is “a choice each program is OK to make.”

University of Utah, where Ohio State head coach Meredith Paulicivic used to coach, is among many NCAA women’s gymnastics programs that have set up additional support resources for their athletes to create a channel for their athletes to discuss any difficult conversations.

Paulicivic declined to discuss specific ways Ohio State has made resources available to the athletes on her team, but reiterated that she has established an open-door policy for her team to talk with all members of the coaching staff, academic counselors and sports psychologists at any moment.

Ohio State plans to wear the ribbons for the remainder of the season.

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