Late 1970s

Pat Spisak 1976, 77, 78 Champion
Gymnastics in the late 1970s became extremely popular in the United States.  For the first time people could watch it on television.  In 1972 Olga Korbet captured the nation’s attention with her daring moves at the Munich Olympics.   The 1976 Montreal Olympics belonged to Nadia Comanici.  Her perfect 10s inspired many girls to try gymnastics.  New clubs sprang up all over the country. 

As private clubs grew in number, men competing for YMCAs declined steadily.  Teams coming to Y Nationals fell from 20 in 1975, to 7 or 8 by then end of the 1970s.  The quality of men’s performances, and declining numbers, troubled Bill Buffa.

Changes were underway for the women as well.  Two of the powerhouse teams were gone.  George Lewis moved the Seattle Y program to the Seattle Pacific University in 1972.  It became the first private club in Washington.  During this time the girls at the club were still members of the Y.  They could still compete for the Y at Nationals.  In 1973 the University started a collegiate program.  Laurel (Anderson) Tindall competed for both the University and the Y when she was a student.  1n 1974 Seattle won their last championship.  In 1975 George Lewis retired.  Laurel took over coaching at the University.  She still coaches there today.  She remembers taking groups to Y Nationals at least twice. 

Several years earlier Dick Muvihill had left the McKinley Y to start a private club in Oregon. 

The number of women’s teams going to Y Nationals was steady during this time – between 20 and 30.  The women’s champion for three years running (1976-1978) was Pat Spisak Millen, from Montclair, New Jersey.  Her team won the championships two of those years.  Pat remembers her coach, Eli Schneider as being very ahead of the time.  Eli would tape the gymnasts and make them see what they were doing!  Pat went on to compete for Penn State, and was part of the team the NCAA first established national championships for gymnastics – in 1982.