To keep Wright from harming more children, Hoffman said, she plans to push for Wright to receive a lifetime ban from the sport because “the pain she caused so many young girls was just so lasting.”
Wright, 70, started coaching gymnastics as a teenager in her native New Zealand, according to an online bio. In 1975, she moved to the United States and quickly rose in the sport.
For about a decade, starting in 1979, she worked with Don Peters, the 1984 Olympic coach and longtime national team coach, as his assistant at SCATS Gymnastics in Southern California, one of the most successful American gyms at the time, where she coached top gymnasts. (In 2011, U.S.A. Gymnastics barred Peters for life and removed him from its Hall of Fame based on accusations that he had sex with three of his teenage gymnasts in the 1980s.)
At Olympus Gymnastics, the Utah club Wright opened in 1993, she prided herself on helping dozens of gymnasts, including Hoffman — more than 100 in all, by her count — earn college scholarships in the sport.
“Mary was a tough coach, but she was a good coach,” said Taryn Apgood Taylor, who trained with Wright from age 9 until she retired at 17 because of injuries. “I had a wonderful relationship with her and really felt like she protected her gymnasts.”
Taylor, 39, was one of eight gymnasts who trained with Wright when Olympus first opened. Wright would yell at the gymnasts and encourage them to work through the pain of injuries, she said, but that method was more accepted then than it is now.
From Taylor’s perspective, Wright never acted out of anger and never forced gymnasts to train on injuries if a doctor had advised against it. After gymnasts finished training on an apparatus, Taylor recalled, Wright expected them to hug her and thank her, so there were no hard feelings.