Karolyi Ranch

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Karolyi Ranch
The Ranch, USAG Ranch, Camp
Full nameUSA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch
Address454 Forest Service Rd 200
LocationSam Houston National Forest, Walker County, Texas, U.S.
Coordinates30°38′24″N 95°21′58″W / 30.6399429°N 95.3660917°W / 30.6399429; -95.3660917Coordinates: 30°38′24″N 95°21′58″W / 30.6399429°N 95.3660917°W / 30.6399429; -95.3660917
OwnerBéla Károlyi and Márta Károlyi
OperatorUSA Gymnastics
Acreage2,000 acres (810 ha)
United States women's national gymnastics team
USA Gymnastics

The USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch or simply Karolyi Ranch in unincorporated Walker County, Texas, southeast of Huntsville, was a gymnastics camp facility which was the site of the main training center for the United States women's national gymnastics team, located 70 miles (110 km) north of Houston within the Sam Houston National Forest. From 2001 to 2018, it was the USA Gymnastics' national training facility for women's artistic, trampoline, and rhythmic gymnastics disciplines.


In 1983, following his defection to the U.S., Béla Károlyi purchased 40 acres of the Sam Houston National Forest, where the camp is located. A year later, gymnastics facilities and cabins were built and the ranch was open for summer camp.

After Mary Lou Retton won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics the ranch's enrollment increased to 1,400 students.[1] From 1986-89, the property expanded enormously to 2,000 acres. The ranch has a state of the art women's artistic gymnastics facility as well as a dance room, medical room, office, rhythmic gym, trampoline and tumble gym and a sports acro gym. It also has athletes' and coaches' cabins, dining halls, meeting rooms, TV room and a cafeteria.[2]

The camp portion of the property is around 36 acres (15 ha). In 2001, the ranch was designated by USA Gymnastics as the U.S. Women's National Gymnastics Training Center.[3] In 2011, the Karolyi Ranch was recognized as a U.S. Olympic Training Site by the United States Olympic Committee.[4]

In January 2018, USA Gymnastics terminated its lease of the Karolyi Ranch during the sentencing phase of the trial of Dr. Larry Nassar, who was found guilty of numerous acts of sexual assault against young gymnasts, many of which took place at the facility, where parents were not allowed to be present.[3] A lawsuit was filed against the Károlyis in 2016 alleging that they had known about and "turned a blind-eye to the sexual abuse".[5]

On January 25, 2018, the Ranch announced the permanent closure of the facility on its website.[6] On January 30, 2018, the Texas Rangers took over the criminal investigation of the ranch.[7]

National Team camps[edit]

National Team camps for the women's artistic program were held once a month at the ranch, attended by members of the women's national team and current elite gymnasts that the selectors considered good enough to attend. Different training models had been tried in the past but had been unsuccessful. Based on the former Soviet model, gymnasts used to live at national training centers. Later, they trained with local coaches closer to home and came together every four years to train as a national team. In 1999, USA Gymnastics settled on a "hybrid" approach combining these two training methods: Gymnasts trained with local coaches, but each month they and their coaches attended a four-day camp with Márta Károlyi.[8]

After the poor performance of the United States Olympic Team at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the method of selecting athletes for competitions was also changed.[9] In the past the six gymnasts with the top scores at the Olympic Trials went on to compete in the Olympics, but after 2000 the team was picked by Károlyi after a five-day training camp at the ranch.[10] Kelli Hill, who coached Olympians Dominique Dawes and Elise Ray, spoke in favor of maintaining the old ranking system.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Gutman, Dan (1998-08-01). Gymnastics. Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-16065-7.
  2. ^ "USA Gymnastics - Begin Here, Go Anywhere" (PDF). usagym.org. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b David Barron (2018-01-18). "Karolyi Ranch out as USA Gymnastics training site". Houston Chronicle.
  4. ^ "USOC designates USA Gymnastics National Team Training Center at Karolyi Ranch as newest U.S. Olympic Training Site". USA Gymnastics. Retrieved 30 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Famed US Gymnastics Team Coaches Knew of Abuse, Lawsuit Claims". The Christian Science Monitor. 2016-10-28. Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-24 – via HighBeam.
  6. ^ Dougherty, Matt (25 January 2018). "Karolyi Ranch closes, remains under investigation after sex abuse allegations". KHOU, Houston, Texas. Tegna, Inc. Retrieved 26 January 2018.
  7. ^ Barron, David. "Governor Greg Abbott asks Texas Rangers to investigate Karolyi Ranch". Houston Chronicle. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 2018-01-30.
  8. ^ Clarke, Liz (2003-08-17). "U.S. Cultivates Homegrown Training Plan; Young Gymnasts Work With Local Coaches, Make Monthly Trips to Houston Camp". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-24 – via HighBeam.
  9. ^ Rosewater, Amy (2003-02-28). "They All Jump Through Hoops; To Qualify for an Event, Americans Must Endure Rigors of Camp Karolyi". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-24 – via HighBeam.
  10. ^ Harasta, Cathy (2004-07-18). "And the winners are . . . gymnastics picks coming to your NBC dial.(The Dallas Morning News)". Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service. Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-24 – via HighBeam.
  11. ^ John Jeansonne, Newsday (2000-09-20). "Even Karolyi couldn't save them". Post-Tribune (IN). Archived from the original on 2018-01-25. Retrieved 2018-01-24 – via HighBeam.