Jimmy Yongue of Breaux Bridge speaks during his induction into the USA
Gymnastics Hall of Fame in Dallas. Yongue competed in meets worldwide in the
1960s and later became a coach.
from the Daily Advertiser, September 21, 2009)
BREAUX BRIDGE — Trampolinist Jimmy Yongue thought his friends were kidding him,
but they were serious about his inclusion in the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame.
When ceremonies were held recently, the
honor finally began to sink in.
"They call your name, and there
were so many people there who knew me," Yongue said. "I had been in
the sport so long, and so many were clapping for me. It was a real
Induction ceremonies were held in
conjunction with national championship competition in Dallas in mid-August.
Yongue and his wife, Pie, were flown to the event. Numerous friends from St.
Martin Parish drove to attend, while others flew in from Pennsylvania,
Connecticut and Chicago.
"Over the years, Jimmy made a lot
of friends who were Olympians," said coach Jeff Hennessy, who mentored
Yongue at UL (then USL) in the 1960s. "Of course, we had a bunch from here
who went, too. We probably had 40 from the Lafayette area.
"He deserves it."
Yongue competed in numerous
international meets and world championships under Hennessy. He won the bronze
medal in synchronized trampoline at the 1968 World Championships and was the
North American champion in 1964-65.
Although injuries twice interrupted his
career, Yongue vied for honors in 13 international competitions, was an NAIA
All-American in 1967 and 1969 and in 1969 was Outstanding Trampolinist and
Southern AAU Outstanding Athlete.
Hennessy recalled one of Yongue's first
experiences outside the United States.
"Jimmy was probably 16,"
Hennessy said. "We had an invitation to have athletes compete in Germany.
So, I asked his father if he would object, and he said, 'Fine. Send him.'
"When he got there, Jimmy got lost
because he couldn't speak German. He got on a train, and got off at a town with
a name that looked like the town he needed, and nobody picked him up. They
finally discovered his situation, and the German coach picked him up.
"There were several towns with
similar names, and he got pretty close. That was his first experience in
Yongue also excelled as a coach,
mentoring two world champions in 1972 in Germany as coach of the U.S. team,
earning Coach of the Year honors in 1973-74 and producing dozens of standouts.
Former UL star Stuart Ransom was
tutored by Yongue in Memphis and entered the Hall of Fame last year. Ransom was
among those on hand at this year's event.
Inclusion in the Hall of Fame was
especially gratifying for Yongue, who survived a gruesome traffic accident in
2008 that left several limbs shattered.
"It crushed all my bones,"
said Yongue, who suffered a broken arm, hip, leg and two broken feet. "I'm
full of metal. That (recovery) has been my excitement for the last year and a
Yongue recently retired from coaching
after helping fellow ex-UL star Gary Smith at Acadiana Gymnastics and assisting
at other area clubs, as well as running a self-motivating gymnastics program at
Thomas Park (1978-98) and at St. Bernard Elementary School in Breaux Bridge.
He said standouts in trampoline and
gymnastics are more difficult to find now.
"To be a trampolinist is
hard," he said. "You have to spend so much time training, two hours a
day, five days a week. Kids aren't going to train like that anymore. They don't
have the time. So much other things are offered to them."
He also noted that the Deep South can
be a difficult place to grow his sport.
"Gymnastics is a big deal in
Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and even in Dallas," Yongue said. "In
Louisiana, it's mostly football."
But at UL in the 1960s and '70s, Yongue
and others under Hennessy earned the school a name in trampoline. The Hall of
Fame provided recognition of those efforts.
"When you die, they tell your
history," Yongue said. "They showed a video, and everything was
We at Red's would like to extend our sincere congratulations to Jimmy, a long time "fixture" at Red's!