NEW YORK — Gold-medal gymnast Aly Raisman can add budding sportscaster to her accomplishments in the six-month whirlwind since the London Olympics.
After meeting President Barack Obama at the White House, wrapping up a 40-city tour and dropping the puck at a Boston Bruins game, Raisman is thinking ahead to her next career. She’s the host of an Internet-based show called “Flippin’ Awesome,” which highlights the best female sports videos on YouTube’s Awesomeness TV.
The first episode featured three videos of amateur gymnasts, and fans voted on their favorite. The program also focuses on up-and-coming athletes and “already has over 100,000 views in a week,” she said.
The 18-year-old captain of the Fierce Five, who this week received the Thurman Munson Award in New York for her athletic and philanthropic work, discussed the Bruins, Newtown and saying no to alcohol.
The first U.S. woman to win gold on floor exercise traveled with her Fierce Five teammates to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, the Golden Globes and a taping of ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars,” where they were featured in one of Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough’s routines. She said the highlight was meeting Obama, especially after he posed with McKayla Maroney to imitate her silver-medal winning, scrunched up, “Not Impressed” face. “When he did that, we were like, ‘Oh my God, that is so cool.’” She threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game and attended a few Patriots games. In July, she’ll be an ambassador for the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
Among pro sports teams, she’s a longtime Bruins supporter. “I like how it’s fast-paced and have a lot of respect for the players, they’re just really tough.” Her dad Rick, a health insurance agent, played hockey and took her to games. Brother Brett is a junior on the high school hockey team in Needham. The 5-foot-2 Raisman wore her medals — two golds and a bronze — around her neck before the cheering sellout crowd and met 6-foot-9 Bruins captain Zdeno Chara at center ice on Jan. 21 against Winnipeg. “I really, really love the Bruins and always wanted to drop the puck.”
Several gymnasts were among the children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., and Raisman visited the Newtown Youth Academy and a local gymnastics school two weeks later. “I went to visit a gymnastics club and eight of the kids that went to that gym were killed. When I heard that, I didn’t even know what to say.” Twenty first-graders and six adults died during the shooting inside the school. “It was definitely an emotional day. It was hard, but it also made me feel really good to see them smile.”
Raisman started gymnastics at age 2, following in the footsteps of her mom, Lynn. She tried ice skating, basketball, baseball and soccer before setting on gymnastics in the fourth grade. Now she’s advising her two younger sisters and middle school children to say no to alcohol, joining The Century Council and its Ask, Listen, Learn: Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix program. “It talks to kids about how important it is to live a healthy lifestyle and make good choices. If I didn’t live a healthy lifestyle, I wouldn’t be where I am today.” She teamed with her parents in a PSA about the program. “We were laughing a lot because it took my dad a long time to say one of the lines. I like to do appearances with them. It’s cool and very important for all of us to be able to send such a great message to kids all around the country.” With 460,000 followers on Twitter, she’s got a big platform.