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


Mary (Ayotte) Law and Joy (Selig) Petersen are two of the most accomplished gymnasts in Oregon State University history.

Mary Ayotte was born in Inglewood, California in 1959. After a period of time living in the state of Washington, Law's family moved to Gresham, Oregon when Mary was in the eighth grade. It was there that she took her first gymnastics class, which sparked what would become a life-long passion for the sport. After continuing her training as a member of the Gresham Gymnastics Club, Ayotte enrolled at OSU on a partial gymnastics scholarship in 1978, just six years after Title IX came into being.

Ayotte's four year career as a Beaver gymnast was an accomplished one. She took first place in the All-Around at regionals four years in a row, winning the vault twice, bars and balance beam once each, and floor three times. In 1981, after taking fourth place on the balance beam at nationals, and finishing seventh in the all-around, Law participated in the World University Games. She was the top U.S. finisher in this meet, taking fifteenth in the all-around, sixth on the floor, and seventh on the beam.

In her final year at OSU, 1981-1982, Ayotte married Randy Law, whom she had met at an Athletes in Ministry meeting. In her final season, she again went to nationals, winning the floor competition and finishing third in the all-around, the highest such finish in school history. As a team, OSU finished fourth, as they had in 1980 as well. Law completed her degree in Elementary Education in 1982, and then promptly returned to OSU for her master's degree in Education, funded by an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship.

Law continued to be involved in gymnastics through part-time coaching at OSU for several years. Since 1990, she has served as floor manager at all OSU home meets. Law also teaches Physical Activity Courses at OSU, including gymnastics, tumbling, body sculpting, and Pilates.

In 1993 Mary Law was inducted into the OSU Sports Hall of Fame, and in 2007 she was inducted into the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. She is also the director of PEAK Elite, which teaches kids gymnastics, dance, and cheerleading. She lives in Corvallis with her husband and four children.

Joy Selig was born in 1968 in Orange, California and grew up on a small family farm near Placerville, California. A gymnast from the age of five, Selig came to OSU in 1987, supported by a gymnastics scholarship.

Three times a national champion and seven times a first team All-American, Selig's OSU gymnastics career is arguably the greatest in school history. In her freshman year, 1988, she placed second on the floor at nationals, helping her team to a seventh place finish overall. In 1989 she tied for first on the balance beam at nationals and took fourth on the floor, once again pacing her team to a seventh place finish. In her third year, 1990, she won both the balance beam and floor at nationals, and the team took seventh place.

Selig's senior year began with a knee injury and ensuing arthroscopic surgery, but she recovered quickly. At nationals, she took seventh in the all-around and finished third on the floor, while OSU placed fourth as a team. At the conclusion of her senior season she was given the American Award as the country's top gymnast and was also named NCAA Woman of the Year for Oregon. She likewise participated in the World University Games, along with two other OSU gymnasts who competed as alternates.

After graduating with a degree in Psychology, Selig spent three years as an assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Washington, and later coached at the University of Denver, where she met her husband. (The couple married in 1997.) In 1994, OSU unveiled a statue of her which was mounted near the entrance to the Gladys Valley Gymnastics Center. Selig's former coach, Jim Turpin, had chosen her as the subject of the statue and Jim Stephenson, a gymnastics coach at the University of Minnesota and her pre-collegiate coach, was the sculptor. The statue depicts Selig performing one of her signature moves: a one-armed handstand on the balance beam.

In 1995 Selig was named to the Pac-10 Women's All-Decade Team, a collection of athletes which drew from all of the conference's sports. In 1997 she was inducted into OSU Sports Hall of Fame and in 2010 she entered the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. Joy Petersen now lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her husband and two boys.