Barclay was a high school gymnast in Chicago when he was
recruited in 1974 to Arizona State by the late Don Robinson.
Remarkably, he is still involved with Sun Devil gymnastics,
even though the men’s team was dropped in 1993. The ASU
men survived on campus as a club program until 2000,
when their facility was torn down. Resourceful and determined, Barclay eventually opened his own gym, Aspire Kids
Sports Center, which is now home to the ASU club team.
Barclay, whose ASU team is the reigning USAG collegiate
national club champion, recently fielded questions about his
lifelong passion from IG Editor Dwight Normile.
Not only has it been great for our ASU
team, but also for our community, where
we are involved as a team giving lots of
young kids the opportunity to get in the
sport and benefit from this great activity.
We even hosted a Division I school that
wanted to train at our facility over spring
break. That was a great opportunity for
the guys on our team.
When the ASU men’s team was dropped, did you imagine you
would still be coaching its club team in 2011? Since I recruited
the guys with promises from the A.D., I committed to staying and
training them for only one year until we could find them another
school. That was 19 years ago!
How do your ASU club team members pay for their gymnastics
and travel to meets, etc.? Do scholarships exist? Eighty percent
of our budget is raised by the team members themselves by setting
up equipment for junior meets, hosting clinics, running and scoring
meets. Ten percent comes from our alumni and team boosters. The
last 10 percent is donated by our training facility, Aspire Kids Sports
Center. At this time, we offer book scholarships each semester, as all
our fundraising goes directly toward immediate expenses.
What is your position on Title IX, the gender-equity law? I don’t
have a problem with the law—we love the women!—but I do have a
huge problem with how it has been applied. I also have seen how
this law has been used as an excuse for raising more money for
sports other than adding female sports. In other words, the intent of
the law is good. How it has been carried out has definitely not
been—for men, especially, but also for many women.
How does your club team compare with a fraternity? I equate it
the same. We are a family with common goals, frustrations and
needs. We do a lot together. It’s a tough sport, and having close
friends that are willing to go the distance with you is important
through college life. There are alumni from 55 years ago who still
keep in touch with the program.
Did you ever feel like giving up? Definitely! But I am committed
not to make decisions based solely on my feelings at any given time.
If I had quit when I kept missing my Gienger, I would never have
gone as far as I did as a gymnast. I truly believe, the harder the road,
the more worthwhile the journey! It’s been a wicked hard road these
past 19 years, but I wouldn’t trade them for anything!
What are your feelings toward ASU? Like many others, I have
greatly benefited from ASU gymnastics, and that is where our alumni
come in. Most guys who go through our team are totally better for it.
I regret the decisions and leadership of a few that took away so
many opportunities, but am very thankful that we have a good relationship now with ASU—albeit on a different level. We simply don’t
get the same kind of support as we did. We have to work for everything we have—medical, support staff, facilities, scholarships, etc.
Being forced to find a new place to train turned out to be a
blessing. How has the ASU club team evolved since then? With
a great group of people around us, we decided to take a big leap and
build one of the best men’s college training facilities in the country.
Do you receive any recognition from the university? We got a
letter of congratulations from the University President for winning
last year’s national championship. But beyond that, selling our sport
is all up to us. As former coach Don Robinson taught us, ‘We need
to sell our sport because no one else will.’ He was the master salesman for Arizona gymnastics for so long. We really miss him.
Do you promote the program during ASU sporting
events? As much as possible, but we have not been invited
lately to a basketball or football game. We take advantage of
any ad space time we can get out in front of the public and
let them know that we still exist and that we’re a championship program.
Aspire Kids Sports Center
What are you most proud of regarding the ASU men’s
club team? In spite of everything set against us, we are still
here, carrying on a strong tradition, providing opportunities
for male gymnasts to garner a great collegiate experience.
For more information, visit www.sundevilgymnastics.com or