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BYU gymnastics: Emily Vidmar following her parents' lead

By Melissa Yack

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Feb. 14 2014 8:07 p.m. MST

BYU's Emily Vidmar performs on the beam as Utah, BYU, SUU and Boise State compete Saturday, Jan. 11, 2014 in the Huntsman Center.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Enlarge photo»

PROVO — Sometimes life really does come full circle. Father Peter Vidmar and daughter Emily are a great example.

At 9 years old, Peter Vidmar accompanied his dad to a gymnastics practice at a local high school. There, he met Brad Cattermole, who taught the spunky kid his first back handspring. Though Cattermole didn’t coach Peter Vidmar during his ensuing gymnastics career, Peter Vidmar admits that first back handspring was the "coolest skill" at the time and really pushed his interest in the sport.

Fast forward to the present, and Cattermole is coaching Emily at BYU.

“It’s fun to have this connection, having watched Peter’s career over the years and now having Emily on our team,” said Cattermole. “Emily is helping us on the beam and bars, and is the alternate on floor.”

Peter Vidmar’s credentials are something his daughter is proud of. He led the U.S. men’s gymnastics team to a gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, upsetting heavily favored China. Individually, he added a gold on pommel horse and silver in all-around. He also had a standout career at UCLA, where he met his equally talented wife Donna, who was a gymnast on UCLA's women’s team.

Despite a bloodline of gymnastics, Emily is the only one of five kids to stick with the sport.

“It’s funny because Emily is the one I coached the least when she was a kid,” laughed Peter. “Maybe this has something to do with her sticking with it.”

“My parents never pressured me. They always wanted me to do what I wanted to do,“ said Emily Vidmar. “My dad was supportive and helped me with anything I wanted to learn, including pole vaulting and surfing.”

Peter Vidmar admits it is fun to watch Emily blossom with gymnastics, but has another daughter he also likes to brag about — Kathryn. Kathryn Vidmar, a senior, is a member of BYU’s running teams.

“I chose BYU because my sister was already there, and because I loved everything BYU stood for,” said Emily.

Peter Vidmar considers himself spoiled, having two daughters competing in Division I sports, and at an institution he and his wife both admire. The two have rotated trips so they each have a chance to watch both daughters. It’s something they love balancing.

“I am a lifelong member of the (LDS) Church and my wife is a convert,” said Peter Vidmar. “We love everything BYU stands for, and it’s great to have our girls there.”

The Vidmar family next travels to Tempe, Ariz., to watch Emily and the Cougars take on Arizona State on Saturday.

“Our family is really close, so my sister and I love having them and our three brothers watch us,” said Emily Vidmar.

Peter Vidmar continues his work with the sport, serving as chairman of the board for USA Gymnastics. His ongoing involvement with the board has allowed him to travel all over — something he often did with Emily by his side.

“It was really fun because I got to go all over with my dad and meet the different gymnasts,” said Emily Vidmar. “I remember thinking when I met my idol Carly Patterson that it was the best moment of my life.”

Gymnastics will always be a focus of the Vidmar family, and maybe a source of fun.

“It’s kind of a family joke — the look of shock and surprise when I scored the perfect 10 on the pommel horse at the Olympics,” said Peter Vidmar. “It really is quite comical, and I remember the first time I showed that video to my kids they almost fell off the couch laughing at me.”

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