35 episodes

This season of American Prodigies is the story of how Black girls moved from the margins of gymnastics to the core. You’ll hear from trailblazers and viral sensations – coaches and mentors and trainers – journalists and academics – and athletes themselves – as we unpack what it means to be a Black girl in gymnastics.

American Prodigies Blue Wire

    • Sports
    • 4.6 • 1.1K Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

This season of American Prodigies is the story of how Black girls moved from the margins of gymnastics to the core. You’ll hear from trailblazers and viral sensations – coaches and mentors and trainers – journalists and academics – and athletes themselves – as we unpack what it means to be a Black girl in gymnastics.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    We’re Inevitable

    We’re Inevitable

    Jordan Chiles tells Amira about losing her love for gymnastics and how she discovered who she wanted to become – just in time to win a silver medal in Tokyo in 2021. 
    Click here for the transcript of episode 1
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    • 45 min
    Life Is Too Short To Be Bitter: Dianne Durham

    Life Is Too Short To Be Bitter: Dianne Durham

    Dianne Durham could have represented the United States at the 1984 Olympics in LA, but she was injured during trials. A combination of racism and internal gymnastics coaching politics meant that she was unable to petition for a spot on the team. In this episode, we give the trailblazer the flowers she deserved – almost four decades overdue.
    Click here for the transcript for episode 2
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    • 50 min
    I Wanted Freedom: Betty Okino

    I Wanted Freedom: Betty Okino

    Betty Okino started gymnastics “late” — at age 9 — and begged her mother to let her train with Bela Karolyi so that she could realize her Olympic dream. She won bronze medals at the 1992 Olympics. And despite having stories of training until her knees and back broke, being denied food, and being pitted against her teammates, it was only recently that she began to admit to herself that Karolyi’s training methods constituted abuse. Now, as a coach and choreographer, Betty approaches her responsibilities very differently.  
    Click here for the transcript of episode 3
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    • 53 min
    She Was Just Everything To Me: Dominique Dawes

    She Was Just Everything To Me: Dominique Dawes

    When you ask people of a certain age to remember the first Black gymnast, odds are they’ll remember Dominique Dawes. What they don’t remember – or maybe never knew about – is the immense pressure that she faced as a Black prodigy in the sport. Today, Dominique is using her powerful legacy to distance herself from USA Gymnastics and ensure that future gymnasts have the childhood she never did.
    Click here for the transcript of episode 4
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    • 48 min
    Nobody Has Beyoncé’s Weavologist: Gabby Douglas

    Nobody Has Beyoncé’s Weavologist: Gabby Douglas

    Amira has a conversation with Dr. Samantha Sheppard and Dr. Courtney Cox answering, “Whatever happened to Gabby Douglas?” The trio zoom in and out of Gabby’s career, highlighting her as a transitional figure between Black pioneers like Dominique Dawes and today’s media savvy icons like Simone Biles. They also share their personal experiences as Black women in academia to help bring context to what Gabby was up against as a Black girl in white spaces.
    Click here for the transcript for episode 5
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    • 42 min
    And The Crowd Is Loving It: Sophina DeJesus and Nia Dennis

    And The Crowd Is Loving It: Sophina DeJesus and Nia Dennis

    This episode looks at how Black gymnasts came to create spaces of joy for themselves and how college programs benefited from that. After Olympic dreams are dashed because of injury, some elite gymnasts, like Sophina DeJesus and Nia Dennis, opt to compete at top-notch college programs. Sophina and Nia talk about their journeys at UCLA and how they created floor routines viewed by millions online. Valorie Kondos Field (“Miss Val”), UCLA’s famed retired head coach, describes the diversity at UCLA gymnastics as a happy accident. The gymnasts’ mothers, Maria DeJesus and Deetra Dennis share the different paths they took to protect their daughters while encouraging them to embrace their authentic selves. 
    Click here for the transcript of episode 6
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    • 53 min

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5
1.1K Ratings

1.1K Ratings

Jhas H ,

A great documentary podcast that everyone should listen to

This podcast was great!!! The episodes were informative and insightful. This shined a spotlight on many pioneers and trailblazers that people need to know about. I need this to become a full fledge documentary. As you said to Amanda Seales, I’m speaking it into existence for you.

Ogre1102 ,

For Casual Fans. Serious Gym Fans, Look Elsewhere

Overall, the intention of this podcast was fantastic. But, there were too many easily fixed errors to ignore. It came across sloppy.

Marketaire ,

Compelling Story

Good first episode of American Prodigies! I know I’m going to feel a range of emotions this season, feeling joy for these women’s accomplishments and anger for the things they had to go through for being black and women. This is a story that needs to be told. I appreciate the host and athletes pulling back the curtain and shedding light on the black gymnast experience.

This is going to be a season where I’m talking to my friends about each episode at the virtual water cooler. -SR

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