Fargo’s Jack Discher is brimming with excitementFARGO — The United States gymnastics Olympic “Performance Tree” has a branch that extends all the way to Fargo. It has Jack Discher so excited these days he has trouble at times sleeping at night.
By: Jeff Kolpack, The Dickinson Press
FARGO — The United States gymnastics Olympic “Performance Tree” has a branch that extends all the way to Fargo. It has Jack Discher so excited these days he has trouble at times sleeping at night.
Before becoming a physical education teacher at Fargo’s Longfellow Elementary 35 years ago, Discher was the boys gymnastics coach at Alpena High School in Alpena, Mich., a town of less than 11,000 people in the northeast corner of the state on Lake Huron.
Two of his prized gymnasts — Kurt Golder and John Geddert — are in London as part of the coaching team for the U.S. gymnasts. Geddert coaches Jordyn Wieber and is the head coach for the U.S. team while Golder coaches Sam Mikulak.
“A lot of this took off in a small town in Michigan,” Discher said. “I take a lot of pride in being a part of their life at that point, helping to give them direction and to coach them.”
Discher coached at Alpena from 1967-77, leading the team to one state title and one runner-up finish. Golder earned a scholarship at the University of Michigan and has been the head coach at his alma mater for the last 17 years.
Geddert received a scholarship at Central Michigan University and runs one of the most successful gymnastics clubs in the country in Lansing, Mich. The three have stayed in touch over the years with Discher — an avid photographer — representing Michigan as an official photographer at Big Ten Conference meets.
Both Geddert and Golder were seventh graders when they joined Discher’s program at Alpena.
“It took over their lives at that point,” he said. “Who would have guessed at that point what would happen to where they’re at right now. Both were pretty intense and focused on what they wanted.”
Last week, Discher was interviewed about the story by a writer for the Detroit Free Press, who called from London. Wieber, in front of world-wide television, was the subject of drama when she didn’t qualify for the finals of the women’s all-around competition because she finished third on her team in qualifying.
She was considered the favorite for the gold medal.
Discher said that goes back to a Federation of International Gymnastics rule instituted in 2000 so only one country can have two representatives.
“It’s so one country doesn’t dominate,” he said.
Still, the overall picture of having two of his former athletes being such a huge part of the U.S. gymnastics effort is quite the ride for Discher.
“It’s incredible to see where they’ve come from,” he said.