Chalked Up: My Life in Elite Gymnastics

Chalked Up: My Life in Elite Gymnastics

by Jennifer Sey

Paperback(Reprint)

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Overview

Chalked Up: My Life in Elite Gymnastics by Jennifer Sey

Fanciful dreams of gold-medal glory led Jennifer Sey to the local gymnastics club in 1976. A natural aptitude and a willingness to endure punishing hard work took her to the elite ranks by the time she was eleven years old. Jennifer traveled the country and the world competing for the U.S. National team, but the higher she set her sights—the world championships, the 1988 Olympics—the more she began to ignore her physical and mental well-being. Jennifer suffered devastating injuries, developed an eating disorder, and lived far from family and friends, all for the sake of winning. When her parents and coaches lost sight of her best interests, Jennifer had no choice but to redefine her path into adulthood. She had to save herself.

Chalked Up delivers an unforgettable coming-of-age story that will resonate with anyone who has ever felt not good enough and has finally come to accept who they were meant to be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061351471
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/21/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 658,388
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

The 1986 national gymnastics champion and a seven-time U.S. National team member, Jennifer Sey is a graduate of Stanford University. She lives with her husband and two sons in San Francisco.

What People are Saying About This

Kathryn Bertine

“A cautionary tale to not just athletes, parents, coaches, and judges but to fans of gymnastics… intense, gripping, and powerful.”

Dominique Moceanu

“She has eloquently and fairly exposed a dark side to our sport that parents have long needed to be made aware of.”

Jake Tapper

“A remarkably candid, unblinking portrait of what it truly takes to become a champion…that may forever alter the way you watch sports.”

Customer Reviews

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Chalked Up 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
Trisha2011 More than 1 year ago
Journey to the Top and Down Again If you were to meet Jennifer Sey today you would see a Stanford graduate and successful businesswoman with a husband, and two sons. However, in the 1980's you would have met a completely different person. You would have met a young gymnast who was covered in bruises and on the verge of self destruction. There was never a sacrifice that Sey would not make in order to achieve her dream of becoming an Olympic gymnast. At six years old Sey started gymnastics. She was a natural and her family was willing to sacrifice everything to make her into a champion. She quickly moved up the ranks and by the age of eleven was one of America's elites. As Sey set her goals higher and expected more from herself she began to fall into a deep downward spiral that was ignored by all adults in her life. She endured erratic coaches, long days of hard workouts, and multiple major injuries only to crumble after winning the National Title. While Sey brings to light the dark side of this beautiful sport, you can't help but wonder what her motivation was for writing Chalked Up. Did she write it to show the cruelties that go into the making of a champion, or as a reminder of how dedicated she was and what she had to put up with to make it to the top? Sey deserves praise for all that she went through; but, in this novel she does more boasting about her advanced skills and natural talent than describing what and how a gymnast must push through the difficulties of the sport. Even though the motivation for the creation of Chalked Up is questionable it effectively shares an honest report of the side effects of elite competition on a young woman. Additionally, it describes how gymnastics made Sey into the successful woman and parent that she is today. Sey, was able to put her experiences into a format that keeps the readers attention and leaves them never wanting to set the book down. Sey creatively starts each new part with a detailed and interesting account of an experience that will occur after her achievements and failures of the following section. This book would not be interesting for everyone but if you have any ties to elite sports you will find it gripping and easy to relate to. The author provies an inside look into a sport where body image is everything and perfection is expected. Sey reveals the price that is paid by young athletes to achieve their dreams and the dreams of their families. If you enjoy gymnastics or find Chalked Up to be enlightening or moving, other good reads are Little Girls in Pretty Boxes, a book about the making and breaking of elite gymnasts and figure skaters and Letters to a Young Gymnast, about the life Nadia Comaneci the first gymnast to receive a perfect 10.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only thirteen but i must say that is the best sports book i have ever read.. i mean for a person my age to say something like that means something right. But u truly have to be into gymnastics to truly understsnd what happening. But i recamend to some who truley loves and are into gymnastics to read because then you will truly unsyand the readers message.
daprasi More than 1 year ago
This is an extremely moving, emotional book about a gymnast obsessed with perfectionism. It covers the story of a young woman who was willing to do anything to be the best. Caution: Don't avoid gymnastics because of how it was portrayed in this book. The author mentions this multiple times.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author is an excellent writer with a will that stands up to anything. This book is both timely and an important read for parents whose children are extreme 'excellers' in sports. And a must read for sports lovers, even non-gymnasts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Gymnasts who may dismiss this book as a negative portrayal of the sport will be pleasantly surprised. Jennifer's experience should be a cautionary tale to coaches and parents who fail to recognize eating disorders, overuse injuries, obsessive behaviors, and plain old unhappiness in their gymnasts. It's a fascinating account of her childhood memories, and it's well-written. As she says, it's not 'an indictment of the sport,' yet it's something that everyone in gymnastics should be aware of. I'm still a huge fan of gymnastics...but you don't have to be pro- or anti-gymnastics--or involved in the sport at all--to enjoy the book.
MinTwinsNY More than 1 year ago
Jennifer Sey was the 1986 U.S. Women’s Gymnastics champion and the road that she took that eventually led her to this championship was filled with drama, heartbreak, injury and eventually triumph. Everything that she and her family went through to get to that pinnacle is chronicled in her memoir “Chalked Up.” It is an honest look at the life of elite gymnastics, a sport in which many participants retire from the sport before obtaining a high school diploma. Sey covers a lot of topics in the book as the title implies. While this was a book that I found as a bargain book a few years ago, I was intrigued to finally read this when the actions of a gymnastics coach toward his gymnasts made recent news. The book read as I expected considering the nature of the topics and the fact that it was a memoir by an athlete that has long retired from her sport. The Parkettes are an elite gymnastics team that trains in Allentown, Pennsylvania. That is a two hour commute from the Sey’s home in New Jersey, but between Sey’s obsession to be the best gymnast and her mother’s willingness to do anything to help her daughter obtain that dream, that didn’t stop them from getting Jennifer a spot on this team. It is there that her experiences with debilitating injuries, abusive coaches and eating disorders begin. She talks about the way coaches demean the gymnasts while the owner constantly reminds them of how “fat” they are. How Sey continues to thrive in this environment is something she explains through the emotions she felt and her constant fear of failure. More than her competitive drive or her skills, I was taken aback by how freely she was able to write about her emotions, especially her fears. This passage from a practice session on the balance beam while a Parkette was one of the most powerful expressions of this fear: “ The fear never abates. It is constant, relieved only in the instant I have landed on my feet. It surges again and again and again. Agitation and fright is my perpetual state of existence. But I ignore it as I climb back up onto the beam and begin rocking.” This book received much scrutiny when it was published, including pushback from some of Sey’s Parkettes teammates. While I read these reviews and comments, I felt the book was simply an honest assessment by her of her life as a gymnast, both the good and the bad. It wasn’t the best written or most powerful memoir I read, but it was a revealing look at the world of gymnastics that paints a different picture than that shown every four years during the Olympics telecasts, which is usually the only time many sports fans watch the sport. It is a book that is recommended for any reader who wants to learn more about the world these young girls live in in order to entertain the television viewers around the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awsome book if you like the olympics, im really loving this book
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Insightful look at the sport. Author does a great job of illustrating how easily self-destructive tendencies in a young girl can be exacerbated by the pressures of this level of competition. She doesn't blame the sport or the people involved but rather draws a vivid picture of what a combustible brew combining overachieving but vulnerable young girls with an injury-inducing sport can be. A sport that for "women" is over before they even truly reach womanhood. I finished this book feeling for any parent who has ever tried to lead their child through that quagmire of fame, injury, ruthlessness and discipline and glory.
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