Beverley Cude’s FSU Gymnastics Experience
Beverley Cude was first exposed to gymnastics in her home town, Canada’s Copper mining center of Noranda, Quebec at the Noranda Gymnastics Club. The club had recently affiliated with Czech Sokol gymnastics organization, and the team traveled to Montreal to compete against a Sokol contingent from Toronto. There, In July of 1955 Bev took two firsts and one second place, helping the Women’s' Team to take first overall in the Ladies High Division All-around. A little later that month, she participated in the Canadian National Gymnastics Championships held in Windsor, Ontario and placed third in the Women’s All-Around competition.
In the fall of 1955 Bev was at Tallahassee’s Florida State University due to an athletic scholarship offered to her by Dr. Hartley Price, the gymnastics coach. In Tallahassee, she would find an entirely different view of female athletic competition. Dr. Katie Montgomery's fears of damaging women's psyche through competition surfaced yet again in her case, years after Don and Connie Holder’s experience. She won the Women's All-around championship at the South Florida Gymnastics Championships held in November in Naples, Florida. The FSU Women's Team Drill, of which she was also a member, took first place as well. Soon after returning to the campus, she was summoned to Dr. Katie Montgomery's office to be informed that FSU would not finance or support her in those endeavors and, that if she persisted, she would risk losing the gymnastic out-of- state tuition "scholarship" granted to her by Dr. Price.
With no further funding by the university being a possibility, Bev’s competitive career was substantially diminished. However, she and two others did go, at their own expense, and on a horrendous bus trip, to the Penn State Olympic Trials in 1956. She competed listed as "unattached" to avoid the wrath of Katie Montgomery when she returned to Tallahassee. It was just good and most enjoyable experience for her.
The only other competition for Bev while at FSU was at the NAAU Gymnastic Finals held in Chicago in 1957. Her parents managed to provide the air fare from Atlanta to Chicago, and the FSU male gymnasts helped to "smuggle" her by car to Atlanta. Every time Dr. Price's car came anywhere close to the vehicle she was in, she was warned to crouch down in order to avoid being seen. Dr. Price never did question how she managed to get to Chicago. She managed to place in one event: 6th on the balance beam, one place behind fellow Canadian gymnast, Ernestine Russell, who had qualified for the Olympics in 1956. However, attitudes were beginning to change as Gail Sontgerath was about to begin her FSU gymnastics career with the women’s Olympic gymnastic team as her goal.
Bev and Jack Miles discussing the events at the Penn State Olympic Trials in 1956.
Bev & Jack, recreate the above photo at the 2009 reunion, 53 years later.