I was very fortunate in college to have been well-coached. I received help from Dick Zuber, Olympian Don Tonry, two time Olympian Abie Grossfeld, World Championship team member Arno Lascari, three time Olympian Muriel Grossfeld and Pan American Games gold medalist Jamile Ashmore.
Each one had different coaching approaches that were beneficial to me. I remember responding quite well to Jamile Ashmore. He would somehow get under my skin and I would often perform to show him I could. I had observed how he pushed several of my teammates
• to improve their gymnastics. Some rebeled against his coaching style. As a graduate assistant, he had by fate inherited a team in disarray when head coach Dick
• Zuber abruptly resigned and left ~ in the middle of the year.
I was an ineligible redshirt transfer from the Midwest who had just recently decided to become a competitive gymnast. Jamile was already a Pan American Games gold medalist in his athletic prime and still competing; but, that did not stop him from shaping up a bunch of vagabond prima donnas and turning them into a pretty good team in one semester. Yes, he demanded that everyone wear coat and tie on team trips. He made sure that we ate together and establish team unity. He made certain that we conducted ourselves as gentleman athletes representing Southern Connecticut State University. He seemed to know a college athlete’s mentality and was usually one step ahead of all of us; like the time he pulled three “borrowed” sweat suits out of my teammate’s gym bag after a dual meet at the United States Military Academy.
At 5’ 4” and a competition weight of 110 lbs. Jamile is from an Arabic background and raised in the State of Texas. He has a high pitched voice with a Texas twang. He made “flip-flop” sound like “flip-flap”; but, when he spoke you listened. Who was to disagree with a man who had won the NCAA Floor Exercise Championship in 1956, the gold medal in floor exercise in the 1959 Pan American Games in Chicago, and two more gold medals in floor exercise and rings in the 1963 Pan Am Games in San Paulo? Who was going to debate with the first man on record to perform a double back somersault in a national meet on a wood floor at the YMCA Nationals in 1957? Who was going to win an argument with a man who could pump off twenty-five handstand dips without breaking a sweat or lean down to the floor from a side scale to a one arm handstand?
Jamile taught me the merits of thinking positive. I remember him saying to the bench athletes during the 1964 Olympic trials at King’s Point, New York. “My parallel bar routine is only worth an 8.9, but I am going to make the judges give me a 9.2.” The judges scored the routine a 9.4.
Jamile taught me the importance of keeping your word. He was selling the gymnastics floor equipment for American Athlete Equipment during the NAAU 1969 Championship in Miami that I was directing. A coaching acquaintance wanted to buy a balance beam; so I told him to ask Jamile for a fair price. Jamile quoted the coach a $275.00 price tag for an American beam. The coach then went to the Nissen Corporation representative and asked for a better price. Nissen quoted $300.00. The coach then went back to Jamile to close the best deal. Jamile said: “OK, but now the price is $300.00 because I saw you go to the Nissen rep after I told you I was giving you the best price here.”
Jamile taught me the value of hard work and perserverance. During a college workout I saw him tie-off Eddie Konopa, my Senior teammate, to a pommel horse while he was in an overhead spotting belt and make him perform over 100 “flip-flaps” so Eddie could put one in his floor exercise routine.
Jamile continues to sell athletic equipment in the Asian market. He recently completed a long term of meritorious service as a USA Gymnastics representative to the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG). He lives in Texas with his wife Barbara. His son, Jay, recently completed his medical school degree from the University of Michigan.
GYMNASTICS MEMBERS OF THE
FLORIDA STATE UNIVERSITY
HALL OF FAME
Dr. Hartley Price Coach Five National Gymnastics titles
Bill Roetzheim Olympian 1951 NCAA Championship team
Don Holder Olympian 1955 Pan American Games team
Jack Miles Olympic team alternate 1955 Pan Am Games team
Jamile Ashmore Pan Am Games gold medalist 1956 NCAA Champion
Chick Cicio First “Sammie Seminole” 1956 NAAU Champion
Dick Gutting First Indian football tumbler 1952 NCAA Trampoline Champion
Bruce A. Davis, Professor Emeritus Miami Dade College, Director of Flip Flops & Fitness gymnastics school of Apollo Beach.
Pulisher of www.Letstalkgymnastics.com Can be contacted at: (813)641-3375 or Brucedavis56@verizon.net