No athlete competing at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was allowed to bring their family to watch the competition in person due to coronavirus, however, U.S. gymnast Jade Carey was able to bring along her father, Brian Carey. Why? Because he’s also her coach.
While there are obvious complications that can arise by having your dad be your instructor, the gift of having a loved one by your side throughout what’s likely the most stressful meet of this 21-year-old’s life, is an invaluable gift.
During the preliminary round in Tokyo, Carey, who is only competing as an individual, not in the team event, posted the second-highest vault score, 15.166, and the third-highest score in floor exercise, at 14.100, to qualify for the finals in both events.
The vault final is set for 1 a.m. Pacific time on Sunday, August 1, with the floor final scheduled for 1 a.m. Pacific time on Monday, August 2.
Here’s what you need to know about Carey’s father, his coaching style, and the support she receives from her entire family back home in Phoenix, Arizona:
1. Carey Says, ‘At Home, He’s Just My Dad & at the Gym, He’s Just My Coach’
Carey and her father make sure frustrations in the gym don’t spill over into the home. “At home he’s just my Dad and at the gym he’s just my coach,” she told AZcentral.
In an interview with Flogymnastics in 2017, he explained: “It’s great, we definitely leave gymnastics at the gym, so we walk out the door, and we don’t speak it until we walk back into the door the next time at the gym.”
2. Brian Carey Supports Gym Owner Dan Witenstein, Who Was Suspended By USA Gymnastics for Sexual Misconduct Allegations
Carey trains with her father at Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics, a center founded by coach Dan Witenstein, who last year, was placed on the permanently ineligible list by USA Gymnastics for a SafeSport code violation due to allegations of sexual misconduct.
The severe punishment stems from a 1986 allegation, according to AZcentral. “This is a very serious and delicate subject which I do not take lightly,” Brian Carey said in August 2020. “I would like to make it very clear that I am an advocate for survivors and continue to fight to make positive changes in our sport.”
“That being said, I have always been very protective and particular of who I let work with my daughter,” Brian Carey continued. “I feel with great certainty that Dan Witenstein has cultivated an environment that is healthy and nurturing. I am thankful to Dan and Sunrays for providing a positive training experience, that has enabled my daughter to flourish as a gymnast and as a person.”
Carey herself still has a photo of herself posing with Witenstein on her Instagram page. She captioned the June 2019 post, “i truly felt the love from my arizona gymnastics family tonight. i couldn’t do it without my amazing coaches.”
Brian Carey was not alone in his support for Witenstein, the Arizona Sunrays gym put out the following response:
It is with deep sadness that we share the news that our head coach Dan Witenstein has been placed on the ineligible list with USA Gymnastics. We want our Sunrays family to know a bit of context around the situation and most importantly hear directly from our organization that we continue to put your children’s health and safety first.
Today’s ruling stems from a lone complaint regarding activities that allegedly occurred in 1986. This complaint was investigated in July of 2018 and at that time SafeSport and USA Gymnastics lifted a suspension that was briefly placed on Dan following the complaint.
We are surprised this ruling has now changed. As Dan begins the appeals process, we want to clearly acknowledge that even though we do not agree with the ruling in this case, the procedures and measures set forth by SafeSport are important in keeping our athletes safe. We care deeply about each of the athletes in our stead as well as those around the United States and appreciate SafeSport and USA Gymnastics’ efforts in that arena.
In accordance with the ruling, Dan Witenstein will not be participating in any events at Arizona Sunrays or associating with USA Gymnastics until the matter is settled. Dan and the Witenstein family continue to have our full support and we have full confidence that it will resolve in the appeals process.
3. Both of Carey’s Parents Were Gymnasts
Back at home, Carey’s mother, Danielle Carey Mitchell Greenberg, is hosting watching parties to cheer on the gymnastics star in Gilbert, Arizona. In addition to her father, Carey credits her mother for her getting involved in the sport.
“My parents owned a gym when I was born so I was always in the gym playing,” Carey told NBC Olympics. “My parents have been very influential. They were both gymnasts when they were kids and are both coaches now.”
According to Danielle Greenberg’s Linkedin profile, she works as a gymnastics instructor at USA Youth Fitness.
After Carey qualified as an individual in two events, her mother told PEOPLE, “I talked to Jade after the competition and she said, ‘I guess today was a good day to have the best day ever!’… I am so proud of her and her accomplishments on this wonderful journey!”
Mitchell Greenberg, who’s also a mother to Alexis, Taevon, and Xandon, continued on to say, “I was even more proud of her character, and the way she presented herself on the competition floor. The sacrifices she has made, her strong work ethic, her dedication to this difficult sport and her perseverance are all the qualities that helped shape her into the athlete she is today!”
4. The Choice to Compete as an Individual was a Decision Carey Made With Her Dad
Due to complicated league rules, explained here by Inside Gymnastics Magazine, Carey decided not to join the 2018 World Team so she would be eligible for an individual spot.
“My Dad and I decided to pursue the individual World Cup route in 2018,” Carey told the outlet in 2020. “I wasn’t totally ready in the All-Around yet and it made sense for me to do the series and just continue to train All-Around. I’m happy I still trained all four events because with the individual spot, I can still compete All-Around.”
She faced the same hard decision prior to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Carey needed to decide by July 5 on whether or not she would accept the nominative spot as an individual competitor, or take her chances at the U.S. Olympic Trials, and compete for a spot on the team.
“Ultimately, it was going to be her decision,” Brian Carey told AZcentral. But I was hoping that she would take that spot, anyway. Anything can happen at any moment. If you get a stomach flu at the Olympic trials, then you could be sitting at home watching.”
On June 15, Carey announced her decision on Instagram. She wrote, “I’m really excited to be heading to St. Louis next week. I have every intention to accept the individual spot that I worked very hard to earn by competing in the Apparatus World Cup series spanning from 2018-2020 when officially offered to me. My focus right now is Preparing to compete at the Olympic games in Tokyo and being able to contribute to team USA in any way possible.”
5.Brian Carey Jokes About Following His Daughter to College for NCAA Meets
The elite gymnast deferred her 2017 enrollment to Oregon State in order to focus on training for the Olympics, per NBC Sports Northwest Her father coaches her at Arizona Sunrays Gymnastics along with
“It’s just been incredible,” Brian Carey said of going through this journey to Tokyo with his daughter. He also joked about how different it will be shifting from Olympic-level competition to NCAA meets when she starts her studies at Oregan State.
“I’m looking forward to finishing this year strong with her. Then I guess I’ll go sit in the stands and watch her in college — that’ll be weird!”