Athlete A: How Survivors of Larry Nassar's Abuse Forced the Karolyi Ranch to Close

Katie Norris
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnast workout with their personal coaches during a morning workout session at Karolyi Ranch, which was named an Official USOC Training Site and also Hilton announcing their partership with USOC on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)
HUNTSVILLE, TX - JANUARY 26: Gymnast workout with their personal coaches during a morning workout session at Karolyi Ranch, which was named an Official USOC Training Site and also Hilton announcing their partership with USOC on January 26, 2011 in Huntsville, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images for Hilton)

For years, the Karolyi ranch - owned by former national team directors Bela and Marta Karolyi - served as both a training center for USA Gymnastics (USAG) and an opportunity for team doctor Larry Nassar, who after decades of preying on athletes, was convicted of sexual abuse and child pornography in 2018. Netflix's new documentary Athlete A takes a closer look at the conditions that allowed abuse to thrive within USAG.

The Karolyi ranch is alleged to have played a significant role. Nestled in a national forest in southeast Texas, the sprawling 2,000-acre complex was located several miles away from the nearest town, accessible only by a dirt road that seemed to stretch on for "an eternity," according to gymnasts who trained there. The site was devoid of cell service, and parents were asked not to visit, ensuring that the athletes would be isolated while training with the Karolyis, whose style of coaching relied on fear and intimidation. Nassar, who abused athletes under the guise of "treating" them, was seen by many as one of the nicest members of the staff.

In July 2016, more than a year after national team member Maggie Nichols first reported Nassar's abuse to USAG, the organization announced that it would purchase the training facilities from the Karolyis following Marta's retirement after the Rio Olympics. Under the terms of the $3 million-plus sale, the couple would still retain portions of the land, including their residence, a hunting lodge that Bela had built, and the acreage in between.

However, USAG backed out of the contract in May 2017, citing "unexpected financial expenditures associated with the purchase." By this point, the image of the ranch was sorely tainted; The Indianapolis Star had brought the sexual abuse allegations to light in the fall of 2016, implicating the once-esteemed training site along with USAG officials.

Despite backing out of the deal, USAG continued to hold national team camps at the Karolyi ranch. It wasn't until five-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles shared a statement in January 2018 expressing her displeasure at having to return to the site of her - and many other survivors' - abuse that the organization ended its contract with the ranch for good. Team USA now trains at a new facility in Indianapolis, hundreds of miles away from its scarred past.

More From

  • The WNBA Dedicates Its Season to Social Justice as Players Fight For Change Off the Court

    Athletes have a long history of advocating for racial justice, but leagues have only recently started to support the cause in a visible way. See: the NFL and US Soccer walking back stances against kneeling during the national anthem, the NBA planning to paint "Black Lives Matter" on courts, and NWSL teams wearing "Black Lives Matter" shirts before kickoff.

  • 21 Top-Rated Body Highlighters From Sephora For Your Biggest Glow Up Yet

    Make this summer the season of shimmer and spritz, sweep, or stroke on a top-rated body highlighter to bring your glow from zero to 100. After all, radiance isn't just for your face - as that dewy sparkle can spotlight your shoulders, arms, legs, and pretty much anywhere you'd love to subtly glisten in the sun. Sephora has a ton of powders, gels, sprays, and oils with a varying degree of shimmer so, whether you want to go semisheer or full music festival, there's something there for your body. Some add a touch of color and others are pure iridescent sparkle, but most can also be used on your face, hair, lips, and eyes, too. After smoothing on sun protection (always!), follow that with one of these top-rated body highlighters from Sephora when it's your time to shine. Check out our picks ahead.

  • Spotify's New "Soundtrack Your Workout" Feature Creates Custom Playlists For You in Seconds

    Image Source: Courtesy of Spotify If you want to match your music with the type of exercise you're doing - upbeat hits during cardio, for example, or more mellow vibes for yoga and Pilates - Spotify is giving you the means to easily make that happen with minimal effort on your part. The Soundtrack Your Workout feature is available now, and it entails answering a few questions already prepared for you.

  • Now That I’m Working Out at Home, I’m Listening to My Body More Than Ever

    I've always preferred having a separation between my living quarters and my exercise environment - hence why I gladly budgeted for a pool and gym membership as well as boutique workout classes before lockdown began. Going to the gym or booking a hot yoga class at my local studio gave me something to do, a place to go, and a change of scenery - but what I valued even more was the motivation I received simply from being around others exercising.