The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Legends of OSU Gymnastics

Three life history interviews with Mary (Ayotte) Law and Joy (Selig) Petersen, conducted by Janice Dilg.

October 2014


“Joy Selig Petersen: A Gymnast's Life”  October 4, 2014  Location: Dilg residence, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 1, Joy Petersen discusses her upbringing on a small family farm in northern California and her decision to attend Oregon State. The bulk of the session is devoted to Petersen's memories of life as a student athlete, including her first impressions of the university, her academic progression, her living circumstances, and the measure of celebrity that she attained while living in Corvallis. Petersen also discusses her life after college, including multiple stints as a gymnastics coach and her continuing adventures as a mother of two boys. The interview concludes with Petersen's reflections on some of the accomplishments of which she is most proud.

“Two National Champions Reflect on Oregon State Gymnastics”  October 4, 2014  Location: Dilg residence, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 2, Mary Law and Joy Petersen discuss their careers in gymnastics. The session begins with their reflections on first interests and involvement in gymnastics, their recruitment to OSU, and their experience of the impact of Title IX. Law and Petersen also comment on early (and, in many ways, inadequate) gymnastics facilities at OSU, gymnasts' diets, training routines, and memories of competing in Gill Coliseum. The duo likewise remarks on travelling to away meets, their Olympics aspirations, the environment at the NCAA championships, the coaching staffs under which they trained, and injuries that they both suffered.

The interview then turns to memories of specific standout meets, the community that supports Oregon State gymnastics, and the circumstances by which Law and Petersen came to know one another. The session concludes with Law and Petersen reflecting on the conclusions of their gymnastics careers and lending their thoughts on the broader impact that their athletic careers have made on their lives.

“Mary Law Looks Back”  October 23, 2014  Location: Dilg residence, Portland, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In interview 3, Mary Law discusses her family background and childhood growing up in the Northwest, her decision to attend OSU, and her early memories of adjusting to the college environment. In recalling her years at OSU, Law reflects on courses and professors that proved influential, the progression of her studies as an Education major, her getting married while an undergraduate, and her social life as a student athlete. Law also notes her involvement in service projects and her relationship with athletics coach and administrator Sylvia Moore.

From there, the session focuses more intently on the environment faced by gymnasts at OSU in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Law shares her memories of her teammates as well as their practice schedule, training and nutrition regimens. She also speaks of her personal evolution as a gymnast and of memorable competitions, including her participation in the World University Games, held in Romania in 1981, as well as a trip that the OSU squad took to Japan while she was an undergraduate. The interview concludes with Law's reflections on the impact of Title IX and some final thoughts on her college experience.