When Anne Marie Jensen went to the French Open recently with her husband Mark, the pro at Park City Racquet Club, she read a book during the matches. When Mark goes to University of Utah gymnastics meets, administrated by his wife, he watches the couple's 3-year-old twins.
"He brings the kids to every meet, but I don't think he watches any of them," says Mrs. Jensen.That may be for the best in the next few weeks.
Mark can hone in on the kids while the biggest gymnastics meet Salt Lake City has ever staged, the U.S. Olympic trials, July 29-Aug. 6 at the Salt Palace, dominates Anne Marie's life.
And as long as nothing out of the ordinary happens to make Mark or the rest of the crowd take notice, she will have done her job well.
She is the event coordinator for the Utah Sports Foundation, the local entity that bid on and won the trials that are run by the U.S. Gymnastics Federation.
It is up to Jensen to help coordinate the Salt Palace staff, which has never dealt with such a gymnastics meet, to advise hostesses what and when gymnasts want to eat and to come up with a reliable volunteer army to do things like run and flash and compute scores, to get gymnasts to their places during the meet, to help run the march-in and award ceremonies, to make sure the meet announcer has information to keep the crowd up to date, to keep the music straight, to monitor practice gyms and times and to transport athletes to and from hotels, gyms and the Palace.
If these things aren't done precisely, nobody has a good time, and that is too often the case.
The biggest losers, when the job isn't done right, are the athletes. "They work so hard, prepare six hours a day every single day, and then when they're not run well, it's not fair to them," Jensen says.
"That's why you do it. For the kids," who shouldn't have to worry about where they need to stand, just about their personal routines at such a critical time in their lives.
"When they don't know where to go next, they panic," says Jensen.
The crowd gets restless, too. "People should never be bored," Jensen says. For example, she says, once music for routines stops, background music should start to fill the void.
"The only time people should notice what I do is when something goes wrong," Jensen says.
Which isn't often.
"Her organizational talents are spectacular," says Ute Coach Greg Marsden, a founding member of the USF and driving force in getting the Olympic trials to Utah. Jensen has helped Marsden run his meets since 1979's U.S. World Championship trials at the U. and has been meet director for the past four years. She is also the state's only elite-class judge and state women's judging director as well as Marsden's former assistant coach and a kids' instructor who says basic gymnastics is good athletic training for all youngsters.
"My husband calls me `Sergeant,' and so does Greg," says Anne Marie, who doesn't think of herself as being bossy, just precise and dedicated to getting it right. "I love doing it just because it gets done well," she says.
She may take after her mother a little. When she was in high school in Glenview, Ill., she wanted to ski for a college program but didn't necessarily want to go to college or know which one to attend. "My mother applied for me. I thought, `Utah sounds perfect.' My mother took care of it. She was quite bossy about it," says Anne Marie, whose parents are both doctors.
She broke her back as a freshman in a rock-climbing fall and never skied for Utah. She met Marsden and helped with his gym program, though she couldn't compete and didn't want to. She did dive for the swim team for two years.
She ended up with three bachelor's degrees (fashion merchandising, clothing and textiles, business) and a master's in physical education. She was about to head home to find a job when Marsden asked her to stay and help run the World Championship trials, then made her assistant coach and, later, meet director.
Later, he introduced her to his friend, Mark Jensen, a tennis coach and former Air Force pilot whose patriotism came to the fore when the couple had twins. They named them Sky and Merica May, for the country and May Day, when Mark and Anne Marie got married. She left coaching to take care of the twins but stayed in gymnastics through judging - "I thought I could do it better," she reasoned - and organizing.
Because the USGF is involved with this meet and doing the paperwork, Jensen thinks it won't be as big a job as coordinating the NCAA championships, which Utah has hosted five times. It also held the '81 AIAW championships.
Marsden tells her it will be tougher to run once the USGF and athletes get to town because the USGF changes its mind so often. Already in the past few weeks, it has altered the seating arrangements on the floor - changing the number of premium $500-a-ticket seats after they'd been sold - and has been unable to come up with a firm list of practice times.
"If we were doing it, this would already be outlined, everything would be solid," Jensen says.
The USGF also accepted some out-of-state volunteer help Jensen had turned down because she didn't know how reliable the people would be and because she thought it should be an all-Utah event behind the scenes.
"It's their meet," she shrugs about the interventions.