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Samantha Peszek is on a mission to connect athletes, coaches, and parents with the best resources the gymnastics world has to offer.Listeners will have the opportunity to learn from some of the sport’s greats in and out of the gym.

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Bonus Episode 4 - Bridget Sloan - No Regrets
<p>Sam welcomes to the podcast close friend and former 2008 Olympic teammate, Bridget Sloan. Saving the best for last, Bridget is the final guest on Sam’s exclusive bonus series where she has interviewed all members of her 2008 Olympic team. Bridget’s gymnastics accomplishments include nine-time NCAA champion with the University of Florida, 2008 Olympic silver medalist, and 2009 World Champion in the all-around. Since retiring from gymnastics, Bridget has been an active member of the gymnastics community, serving as an advocate and analyst for the sport. Bridget currently lives in Orlando, Florida, and has taken up CrossFit as a hobby, even though she never thought she would!</p> <p>In this episode, Sam and Bridget recall their favorite memories from the 2008 Olympics, including visiting the Great Wall of China and an awkward photo shoot with navy blue cargo pants. As the youngest member of the 2008 Olympic team, Bridget had a different journey when she arrived back from Beijing. She continued her distinguished gymnastics career at the University of Florida where she contributed to three consecutive national titles. Sam and Bridget also touch on the recent scandals that have sent shockwaves through the sport of gymnastics and how it impacted Bridget on a personal level. Finally, Sam and Bridget share a few things they are thankful for this year and give advice to aspiring gymnasts everywhere.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a title="http://ihavecoolfriends.show/17" href="http://ihavecoolfriends.show/17">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/17</a></p>
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Bonus Episode 3 - Nastia Liukin - The Year of New Beginnings
<p>Sam welcomes to the podcast close friend and former 2008 Olympic and 2007 World Championship teammate, Nastia Liukin. Nastia’s gymnastics accomplishments include the 2008 Olympic all-around champion, five-time Olympic medalist, the 2005 and 2007 world champion on the balance beam, and the 2005 world champion on uneven bars. She is also a four-time, all-around U.S. national champion, winning twice as a junior and twice as a senior. Since retiring from gymnastics, Nastia has continued to support and promote the sport of gymnastics as an analyst, advocate, and entrepreneur. She was part of the effort that saw Los Angeles awarded the 2028 Olympic Games and is currently involved in projects aimed to inspire the next generation of females.</p> <p>In this episode, Sam and Nastia recall early memories of their friendship at the Pan Am, World Championship and Olympic Games. Nastia opens up on what it was like growing up in the spotlight as the daughter of two famed Russian gymnasts. Sam and Nastia talk about the current uncertainty surrounding USA Gymnastics and the characteristics they would like to see in the new CEO and governing body. Among these characteristics are transparency, communication and effective leadership. They also suggest actions that former USA gymnasts can take to help the sport recover from the recent scandals it has suffered. Finally, Nastia stresses the importance of educating and training young gymnasts not only in their sport, but also in life skills that will serve them well long after retirement.  </p> <p>Full show notes: <a title="http://ihavecoolfriends.show/16" href="http://ihavecoolfriends.show/16">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/16</a></p>
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Bonus Episode 2 - Chellsie Memmel - Transparency and the Future of USA Gymnastics
<p>Sam welcomes to the podcast close friend and former 2008 Olympic teammate, Chellsie Memmel. Chellsie’s gymnastics accomplishments include being the 2003 world champion on the uneven bars and the 2005 world all-around champion; just the third American woman in history to win that title. She has seven World Championship and Olympic medals and is tied with Shawn Johnson as the seventh most decorated US female gymnast. She is so skilled at gymnastics that she even has a floor exercise move named after her, the Memmel Turn. Since retiring from gymnastics, Chellsie has continued to support and promote the sport of gymnastics as a coach, judge, and advocate.</p> <p>In this episode, Sam and Chellsie recall early memories of their friendship. They talk about the controversial 2008 Olympic selection process and how it made them feel. Chellsie chronicles her injury history and the emotional and physical toll the recovery and training process took on her. They discuss the peaks and valleys they encountered along the way to becoming Olympic medalists, including meeting Michael Phelps! Sam and Chellsie have a meaningful and reflective conversation on the state of gymnastics and the actions they believe need to be taken by the governing body of USA Gymnastics to address these issues. Finally, Chellsie discusses the fulfillment and joy she gets out of coaching gymnastics and shares her biggest life lesson she learned as an athlete.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/15">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/15</a></p>
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Bonus Episode 1 - Alicia Sacramone Quinn - Gymnasts Aren’t Like a Fine Wine
<p>Sam welcomes to the podcast former Olympic teammate and close friend, Alicia Sacramone Quinn. Alicia is a former American gymnast who is also the second-most decorated American gymnast in World Championship history, netting ten medals during her illustrious career. Since retiring from gymnastics, Alicia has gone on to start a family and welcomed her second daughter in July 2018. Alicia also collaborated with Sam to launch The Gympire, a fitness company with the mission of encouraging, motivating, and inspiring people to live a happy and healthy life.</p> <p>In this episode, Sam and Alicia recall their memories from the 2007 World Championships and 2008 Olympic games. They discuss the peaks and valleys they encountered along the way to becoming Olympic medalists, including injuries and other roadblocks. Alicia and Sam reminisce over Sam’s infamous journal, as they look back on their friendship. Finally, Alicia discusses the current culture of gymnastics and what can be done to change the negative stigma the sport has been labeled with in recent years</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/14">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/14</a></p>
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013 - Recapping Season 1
<p>In the Season 1 recap episode, Sam reflects on all of her “cool friends” and the lessons she learned while having them on as guests. Sam divulges the goal of her podcast, which is to educate and inspire while covering topics related to gymnastics.</p> <p>Sam travels quite a bit and she noticed that no matter where she went, people always asked her for advice, tips, training plans and strategies for gymnastics. This thirst for knowledge in the gymnastics world led her to start I Have Cool Friends, which now has over 56,000 downloads in over 108 countries! From life lessons with Valorie Kondos and Laurie Hernandez to the evolution of gymnastics with Betty Okino, there’s a little bit of everything for listeners who love the sport and those who just want to learn more.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/13">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/13</a></p>
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012 Shawn Johnson - The Journey to the Olympics, Our Friendship, and Our Lives Now
<p>Sam welcomes to the podcast former Olympic teammate and close friend, Shawn Johnson. Shawn is a former American gymnast who won a gold medal for the balance beam and silver in team, all-around, and floor exercise at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. Since then, Shawn has written three books, launched a successful YouTube channel, spearheaded a health and fitness project (FYT) and won Dancing with the Stars! After suffering a torn ACL in a skiing accident, Shawn attempted a gymnastics comeback before ultimately deciding to retire in 2012.</p> <p>In this episode, Shawn chronicles her gymnastics career, covering topics such as self-doubt, respect, pressures of competition and her life after. Shawn and Sam reminisce about their past competitions, their strict yet supportive coaches, and the rigors of Olympic life. Of course, there was plenty of fun to be had too, as Shawn regales stories of sleepovers, Nutella and pizza boxes. Among these stories of gymnast hijinks, Sam and Shawn discuss the quirkiness of being a gymnast and answer the question, “Are gymnasts normal?”</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/12">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/12</a></p>
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011 Amanda Borden - Confidence, the Olympics, and Being a Gym Mom
<p>Amanda Borden is a retired American gymnast, Olympian, coach, gym owner, and gym mom to three kids. After being coached by Mary Lee Tracy, Amanda was the captain of the gold medal winning team, the Magnificent Seven, in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games, a team medalist at the World Championships, and a multiple-medalist at the 1995 Pan American games. She graduated summa cum laude from Arizona State University with a degree in childhood education. Currently, Amanda and her husband, Brad Cochran, own Gold Medal Gym in Arizona.</p> <p>In this episode, Amanda redefines what it means to be a “gym mom” and advises on how to not be an overbearing parent. She explains how to find the balance between being a coach and a parent, and also offers some tips for parents of athletes, such as why you should let your children find out what they love, and why you should let your kid lead the conversation. Parents should be teaching their kids to “own it” - to take ownership of their actions so they can learn. Amanda speaks about her own experience growing up and training as a gymnast, the importance of having self-esteem as a gymnast, and why sometimes it’s necessary to fake it until you make it - but also believe in yourself.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/11">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/11</a></p>
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010 Betty Okino - Redefining Success and the Future of Gymnastics
<p>Betty Okino is a former American artistic gymnast and Olympic medalist who was born in Uganda to a Ugandan father and a Romanian mother. As a result, she is fluent in Romanian. Growing up, she trained with Márta and Béla Károlyi in Houston. She was part of the 1992 bronze-winning Olympic team, which was also the first ever team medal at the Olympic Games for USA Gymnastics. In addition, Betty won a silver medal with her team in the 1991 World Championships and a bronze medal on the balance beam. Betty also won a gold medal on beam and a silver all-around medal at the 1990 US National Championships.</p> <p>In this episode, Betty looks back on her career and injuries and states that she believes everything happens for a reason. She states that even though her injuries were the biggest obstacles she faced as a gymnast, recovering from them have made her a stronger person. Betty also speaks of what she did after retiring as a gymnast and speaks of her goals in her peak training camps. She describes what makes a good coach and explains the work ethic and humility needed to be a leader. Bella expresses her views on the evolution of USA Gymnastics throughout the years since her involvement from the 1980s and speaks about the beauty of gymnasts coming together through the years has made them stronger.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/10">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/10</a></p>
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009 Jordyn Wieber - Achieving a Utopian Gymnastics World
<p>Jordyn Wieber is a former American artistic gymnast and was a member of the US Women’s Gymnastics Team, the Fierce Five. Some of her achievements include being a 2012 Olympic gold medalist, 2011 World Champion, three-time American Cup champion, and two-time US National All-around champion. At a young age, after her parents noticed she was a muscular child, they decided to enroll her in gymnastics and she has continued with the sport ever since.   She currently works as a volunteer gymnastics assistant coach at UCLA.  In 2018, Jordyn as well as over 200 other survivors were awarded the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the ESPY’s.  <em>  </em></p> <p>In this episode, Jordyn speaks about her beginnings as a gymnast and how she was always mature, even as a child. Jordyn also speaks about what it was like being Sam’s roommate for a year! She explains her fear of being late to practice and her need for an outlet for competitiveness, as well as her interest in psychology and how she believes the Enneagram test can help athletes understand their and their teammates’ personalities more. Jordyn continuously strives to make gymnastics a safe sport by dismantling the win-at-all-costs mentality to give athletes better opportunities to be successful safely.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/9">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/9</a></p>
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008 Brandon Wynn - Fitness Begins with a Bulletproof Mindset
<p>Brandon Wynn is an artistic gymnast from New Jersey. He is a member of the US World and National Team and competed in gymnastics for The Ohio State University. At the 2013 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, Brandon won a Bronze medal on Still Rings and is one of the two men in US history to win an individual medal in Still Rings. He even got to be on the cover of one of the world’s largest fitness magazines, <em>Muscle and Fitness.</em> Currently, Brandon mentors other gymnasts and athletes on how to create and maintain a healthy diet to attain physical and professional success.   <em>  </em></p> <p>In this episode, as the first male guest on the show, Brandon speaks about the differences in what male and female gymnasts need for conditioning. He also speaks about accomplishing your goals by attaching those goals to your everyday actions and giving yourself a purpose to manifest motivation. He stresses the importance of setting non-negotiables to help transform yourself into the best you can be because you are a product of what you're trying to do.  Brandon discusses finding the perfect balance of muscle for athletes, how he sets his morning routine by making appointments with himself, and even offers healthy dietary advice by using food and nutrition as an asset to help you get in shape. </p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/8">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/8</a></p>
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007 Laurie Hernandez - Human vs Perfect
<p>Laurie Hernandez is a 2016 Olympic gold medalist who has also won an Olympic silver medal on beam, won season 23 of <em>Dancing with the Stars,</em> was featured on an episode of <em>Stuck in the Middle</em>, and is only 18 years old. At 16, Laurie became the youngest winner of <em>Dancing with the Stars.</em> She has also made appearances on <em>Sesame Street, Celebrity Family Feud,</em> and will be co-hosting <em>American Ninja Warrior Junior</em>. In addition, Laurie is a <em>New York Times</em> Best-Selling Author of her book, <em>I Got This: To Gold and Beyond.</em> After competing in the Olympics, Laurie made the decision to become a professional athlete.</p> <p>In this episode, Laurie speaks about identity, finding who you are as a person, and allowing yourself to feel different emotions as a human being. She notes that it’s okay to not always have to keep a bubbly facade and it’s important to embrace your true feelings. Laurie explains how she overcame her injuries, came back stronger, and even details why she almost quit the Olympics five months prior to the competition due to an injury. To Laurie, the most important key to overcome mental blocks is communication and communication is a factor Laurie looks for in all aspects of life.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/7">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/7</a></p>
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006 Nicole Jontony - How Gymnasts Can Build a Healthy Relationship with Food
<p>Nicole Jontony was a former elite collegiate gymnast at Ohio State, has helped her team make it to the NCAA championships during her senior year, and is currently a sports dietitian at The Ohio State University. Recently, Nicole was selected as the 2018 Young Dietitian of the Year by the Ohio Academy of Nutrition Dietetics. She graduated from Ohio State in 2013 with a degree in Medical Dietetics and has dedicated herself to helping athletes develop healthier eating habits and learn more about sports nutrition ever since. Alongside her husband, Nicole runs a sports performance practice that specializes in sports counseling and sports nutrition.</p> <p>In this episode, Nicole emphasizes that there's no such thing as a good food or a bad food, rather, people should be looking at food as fuel. She works to de-stigmatize food in order to help develop healthy habits for athletes. She mentions gymnasts should be having protein as a filling food to prevent binging or cravings and how increasing fruits and vegetables in your diet to get more vitamins and minerals can help you heal from an injury. Nicole lists several healthy eating tips such as fueling your energy using carbohydrates, using your hands to give yourself the right portion sizes, and enjoying food that makes you feel full!</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/6">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/6</a></p>
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005 Dr. Alison Arnold - Fighting Fear
<p>Alison Arnold, also known as “Doc Ali” in the gymnastics world, has a more than interesting resume. She has a PhD in Psychology, is a former gymnast, and has been on trips to a monastery in Nepal, Peru, and Thailand, as well as in the jungle of the Amazon with a shaman. She has also been a mental toughness coach for USA Gymnastics since 1997. Doc Ali has worked with Olympic medalists, NCAA champions, and thousands of athletes to help achieve their dreams for the past 25 years. Using all she has learned from her life experiences, she works to help people toughen their minds and fight their fears to achieve ultimate success.</p> <p>In this episode, we discuss how all gymnasts, even the elites, have fears and how you can train yourself to overcome your own personal fears. Doc Ali states some people are “fire” gymnasts and some people are “water” gymnasts—some people like pressure, some people like performing, or some people like competing; no one is exactly the same. We establish that there is no one specific way to do things; you need to figure out whatever works best for you and use it as a tool to help get better. However, having gratitude for fears and struggles makes you a stronger gymnast, once you appreciate what you have and what you’ve been through. In addition, Doc Ali speaks of her experience sitting in silence for two weeks in a monastery in Thailand.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/5">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/5</a></p>
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004 Madison Kocian - Gold Medal Winning Olympian, Madison Kocian, Sets the Bar High for Gymnastics
<p>Madison Kocian’s reputation precedes her—her numerous accolades are just a representation of her hard-working, determined, and accomplished self. Some of her awards include winning the team gold medal with the “Final Five” and the uneven bars silver medal at the 2016 Olympic Games, becoming the 2015 world champion on bars, and being a member of the UCLA gymnastics team. Towards the end of the season, Madison came back from shoulder surgery and was still able to help her team win the NCAA championship title this year.</p> <p>In this episode, Madison speaks about her gymnastics career both in the elite world and in the college world, where she competes for UCLA. She speaks about her experience training for the Olympics and how she learned to overcome her injuries and what she did to become a better gymnast, physically and mentally. Aside from gymnastics, Madison mentions how she is able to live, or at least tries to live, a normal life. In addition, Madison shares some advice for listeners on how to succeed as gymnasts as she looks back on her elite career.  </p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/4">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/4</a></p>
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003 Jill Hicks - The Ins and Outs of College Recruiting
<p>Jill Hicks, known as the “College Recruiting Expert” tells us in this episode about her journey with college gymnastics as well as some advice for parents, coaches, and aspiring young gymnasts. Over time, the college recruiting process for gymnastics has drastically changed. Jill’s consulting company, Jill Hicks Consulting LLC, strives to market her support for college-bound gymnastics to choose what the best fit is for them. Jill reiterates that passion and love for the sport are key to being a successful college gymnast, no matter what division. She also states that having a support system leads to girls to become more confident, which makes the college recruitment process easier to go through.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/3">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/3</a></p>
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002 Valorie Kondos-Field - Miss Val: An Unconventional Coach
<p>Sam has had some amazing people help her in her journey to becoming a top gymnast, but one of the most important has to be Valorie Kondos-Field, otherwise known as Miss Val. As coach at UCLA, she led them to win 7 national championships. Her book, <em>Life is Short, Don’t Wait to Dance</em><em>,</em> will be available for purchase September 2018. In this episode, Sam and Val discuss how they met, Val’s unorthodox coaching style, and the Larry Nassar scandal.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/2">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/2</a></p>
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001 Mary Lee Tracy - How To Reach Your Athletic Peak
<p>If you aspire to be fantastic gymnast like Samantha Peszek, you need an equally great coach. In this episode, Sam welcomes Mary Lee Tracy, a coach who has taught gymnastic legends such as Jaycie Phelps, Amanda Borden, and Amelia Hundley. Mary discusses confidence, what makes a great coach, and how to be a 24-hour athlete.</p> <p>Full show notes: <a href= "http://ihavecoolfriends.show/1">http://ihavecoolfriends.show/1</a></p>
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Welcome to I Have Cool Friends
<p>Samantha Peszek is on a mission to connect athletes, coaches, and parents with the best resources the gymnastics world has to offer. Utilizing Samantha’s gymnastics network, (she really does have cool friends) guests will be experts in their field and shed a light on hot topics, tips for improvement, and inspiration. Listeners will have the opportunity to learn from some of the sport’s greats, participate in giveaways, and apply relevant tips to everyday life, in and out of the gym.</p> <p> </p>
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