An Interview with Nicole Langevin
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? What’s your gymnastics background? You’ve been connected to the sport in various capacities for many years, so it would be interesting to hear your background story.
Oh wow, how much time do you have? Ha ha… My story starts out like most but also ends differently than most. I started gymnastics at five years of age. Actually, I should say my mom PUT me in gymnastics at five years of age because I was destroying the furniture. I picked things up pretty quickly and was super strong but did not have the greatest form and completely lacked artistry for a very long time. I made it to Level 10 and competed at nationals a few times. I never had a huge showing or anything like that. For me, I was just really happy to qualify and compete.
Fast forward to 2001. I moved to Los Angeles and, while pursuing work in TV and film, I reached out to a local gym to see if they needed any help with choreography. They took me up on my offer and within a few years, I became the Program Director for the entire competitive Program. I stayed at that same gym for 13 years and developed my technical as well as leadership skills.
While in Los Angeles, I continued to develop my choreography skills by choreographing several opening acts for fashion shows and corporate events. I did this in addition to coaching and pursuing other jobs in the TV industry. I was fortunate enough to have some pretty cool experiences, some of which included appearing in a few different shows, interning at a soap opera, working as a production assistant, serving as a personal assistant to Ben Stein and Sharon Osbourne, and probably a whole bunch of other things that are not coming to mind right now! While I was doing all of these “Hollywood things,“ I still maintained my gymnastics job.
After working with my athletes for several years, I began to receive many compliments about my athletes’ choreography and artistic style. My gymnasts had a unique style that we developed over time, and many coaches and judges in the area took notice and began asking me if I could choreograph routines for their athletes. Once I realized that could become “a thing,” Precision choreography was born.
One of my very first choreographers under the Precision Choreography name was Alicia Sacramone. I first met Alicia in 2009, and we hit it off immediately. Her dynamic personality, passion for gymnastics, creativity, and attention to detail were just a few of the qualities that made her a stand out choreographer. Alicia was a huge asset to the Precision team, and to this day, Alicia and I have remained close. In fact, after our experience working together we even branched out and formed another business together! The business is called ”Like a Champ,” and we provide representation for freelance gymnastics professionals.
In addition to all of these activities, somewhere along the way I took and passed my judging exam, because, well… it just seemed like the next logical step in my career.
Once I had my judging credentials in hand, I established “My Gym Judge,” which initially started out as a division of Precision Choreography. “My Gym Judge” was a way for our clinicians to stay connected to the routines that they choreographed through Precision Choreography. The way the service worked was that through “My Gym Judge,” certified judges would offer feedback on Precision choreographed routines once they were in competition. This service quickly became more and more popular, and before I knew it, I realized I needed some help. I’ve never been afraid of the answer “No,” so…. I decided to reach out to Chellsie Memmel (who is not only a phenomenal gymnast, but also a brevet rated judge), who I had never met before. I told her about the services “My Gym Judge” offered and asked her if it might be something she would be interested in doing on the side. To my surprise, Chellsie agreed to get involved, and from the get go, she ended up being the most active judge on the service panel.
To date, “My Gym Judge'' has grown tremendously, and Chellsie has been an integral part of its success. Chellsie helped take “My Gym Judge” to the next level by offering suggestions on ways in which she thought we could improve the overall experience for our users. One of the ways we did this was by broadening the scope of our judging services to include not only judging Precision choreographed routines, but judging routines performed by various athletes around the country on multiple events. Our business has evolved and become its own separate entity. Chellsie truly was “all in“ to the mission of the “My Gym Judge” division, and as a result, we became business partners.
Lastly, I also try to stay active and give back to the gymnastics community I grew up in, which happens to be Region Six. One of the most humbling moments in my career happened this past spring when I received the Regional Service award for Region Six. It was an auspicious occasion and I was incredibly honored to receive this award. Wait, that’s an understatement. Whatever the word is for being brought to tears, feeling grateful, honored, and shocked…that’s how I felt. It has been very important to me to not only stay connected to the sport I love, but to give back to the region that shaped my gymnastics experience.
- How did you come up with the idea to start a Podcast?
The idea to start a podcast actually came from Andy Seeley of Creatively Disruptive. He thought it would be a great way for me to share my “weird and wonderful personality“ with a wider audience. Those are HIS words not mine! I then realized that I had some pretty great connections with some really fascinating people in the gymnastics world and I thought that gymnastics fans might enjoy getting to know them the way that I did. And so, that’s how my podcast got started! Since its inception, I have been really fortunate to have the opportunity to interview some really cool people that I have only dreamed of meeting, and in these cases, the audience gets to know them right along with me.
- Most memorable interview?
Lani DeMello. She is a World Champion in Rhythmic Gymnastics and a superstar in the Special Olympics world and in life. This interview was filled with surprises, laughs, and a general sense of awe. I learned so much from Lani and the day before the podcast aired, I was extremely concerned about “getting it right.” I wanted to make sure that I did right by Lani. When I received a message from her mom saying, “This was amazing!,”it was the best feeling in the world. I am still so honored to have had the privilege to showcase Lani’s incredible personality to the world.
- Most surprising interview?
The most surprising…well, I could tell you the two that I was most surprised to land. Those would be Judge Rosemarie Aquilina and Tom Forster. I truly did not think I had a chance to have either of them as guests. With Judge Aquilina, we have developed a great relationship and rapport. She has been on the show twice now and you can expect to hear more from her down the road.
- Funniest interview?
Hands-down, Justin Spring. Enough said;)
- What are some life lessons Gymnastics has taught you?
I learned early on that I function best when I am busy. I had to take some time off from gymnastics for a few months during high school, and funny enough, with all that extra time, my grades actually went down and I was less productive. In terms of less personalized lessons, I learned the importance of fueling the body and the mind in order to perform to the best of my ability. I also learned about accountability. In gymnastics, YOU are the instrument. YOU are ALL of the players. Your successes and failures out on the competition floor are all on YOU. That is not to say that there is not extreme camaraderie among teammates and gratefulness to the guidance of coaches, but when it’s “GO” time, it’s all on you. Lastly, to look back and see that even as a child I was able to multitask and generally do things that most people could not do was a huge confidence builder and a motivator. Gymnastics taught me that the sky is truly the limit in terms of setting and achieving goals.
- Future plans in the sport? I know you’re very creative and passionate about gymnastics, so it would be interesting to hear what you might have planned.
Currently, Chellsie and I have made an interesting pivot with “My Gym Judge”. We are still offering our workshops but we have developed a really great program where athletes and/or coaches and/or parents are matched with a judge for an entire season. This is something we are very excited about. It provides ongoing support to the athlete so that they can maximize their scoring potential throughout the season. The judge basically provides feedback after every competition (they do not provide scores!) and allows the athlete and/or coach and/or parent to ask questions or advice. We both feel strongly that scores should not be a mystery and that sharing information and working together will ALWAYS benefit the athletes.
On the Precision side, we are putting a lot of attention on our consultation services. We still provide workshops, clinics, choreography, and training camps (I initially thought we would be completely done with camps, but we will most likely do a couple of big ones every summer), but the purpose of focusing on our consultation services is so that we can remain connected with gymnastics programs throughout the year. We believe this will be the best way to make the most positive impact on the communities we serve.
- Do you have a role model in the sport? Someone who inspired you?
My former coach, Dr. Joe Massimo, was an absolute rockstar in my eyes. He was basically the Forrest Gump of gymnastics. As an athlete, coach, psychologist, author, and speaker, he seemed to have mastered every corner of this sport. He played a part in countless pivotal moments in gymnastics history and still was able to impact every person he came across on a day to day basis. There was not one prideful bone in his body. He radiated warmth and compassion and was one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. I also miss him dearly. We lost him Feb 8 2020 and I try to “Do it for Doc” every day.
- What advice would you give young gymnasts aspiring to compete at the highest level?
Listen to your body. Ask questions. Use your voice. Don’t put limits on yourself. Be the gymnast you want to be, not the one others want you to be.
- Any advice for coaches based on your diverse experiences and interactions with people in the gymnastics community?
The best coaches in the world are never done learning. Once you think you have nothing left to learn… You won’t. I don’t know where I heard that quote but I absolutely love it and think that it is extremely true in the world of coaching.
- What do you like about Quatro?
I was so happy that Precision was able to work with Quatro this year for our camp leotards. They look really cool and are ridiculously comfortable. My five-year-old daughter wears hers all the time! The athletes at our camps always comment on how much they love the way that they feel. Our experience with Quatro has been nothing but positive and I appreciate the openness to creative endeavours. In particular, the podcast event that Quatro sponsored in Tampa was not only a success but a very different experience than most of the guests were used to (I mean that in a really good way :-), it was the perfect mix of classy and fun!