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By: Estefania Sanchez
TAMPA, Fla. - Dr. Catherine Batsche, the Associate Dean at the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, is a USA Gymnastics Brevet judge, the highest rating in women’s gymnastics at the national level. This past summer, she received the honor of being inducted into the Region 8 USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame. Region 8 encompasses the 8 states in the southeast region of the United States.
“I was surprised when I first got the news. It is quite an honor and means a lot to me to be identified with some of the top coaches, judges, and gymnasts in our region,” said Dr. Batsche.
Dr. Batsche was born and raised in Texas. She received an undergraduate degree in Behavioral Sciences at the University of Dallas. She went on to graduate with a Master’s in Psychology at Southern Methodist University, and then earned her Ph.D. at Illinois State University.
Dr. Batsche became involved as a gymnastics judge due to a shortage of judges in Illinois. “When my daughter was eight years old, she asked if she could go take gymnastics classes. I would stay at the gym and watch her practice. The coach asked me if I wanted to be a judge because they had a shortage of judges and couldn’t have enough competitions in our area,” said Dr. Batsche. She started taking courses at the University of Illinois and has now been a gymnastics judge for 32 years.
Dr. Batsche has learned to live and work in two different professions and balance both her judging and university careers. She dedicates her weekdays to teaching and administration at USF, and then goes away on weekends to judge gymnastic competitions. Her diverse careers have required her to be efficient and well-organized.
“I’ve learned to get involved intensely in what I’m doing and put other things aside until it’s time to do that activity. Judging actually helps me at work because when you’re doing something completely different, you get a fresh perspective,” said Dr. Batsche.
Dr. Batsche started working at USF in 1992 as the Associate Dean for the Florida Mental Health Institute, now part of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. What she enjoys most about working in the College is its focus on helping people improve their quality of life.
“The college is unique in that it is dedicated to programs that help others,” said Dr. Batsche. “I like teaching, working and interacting with students who are refreshing, innovative and eager to learn.”
Out of all the research projects Dr. Batsche has been involved with, she enjoyed most working in the area of children with autism while in Illinois and with youth in the foster care system in Florida. It gives her hope that children who have challenging conditions can overcome those challenges and have successful lives.
Her biggest accomplishment in her gymnastics career has been judging the NCAA National Championships three times as well as for the USAG National Championships, both challenging and intense experiences yet fulfilling.
“I get to see some of the athletes whom I judged at a very young age and have moved all the way into the college level. It is very nice to see the progression of the athletes and watch them mature, develop, and handle the ups and the downs that come with being an elite athlete,” said Dr. Batsche.
At USF, Dr. Batsche is most proud of her involvement in the Behavioral Health Care major and the Undergraduate Research Certificate.
“I really appreciate the university’s emphasis on student success. It is important not to forget that our students are the primary reason we are here. Helping students achieve their goals is particularly pleasing to me,” said Dr. Batsche.
When asked about any similarities between USF and her career as a judge, Dr. Batsche mentioned that both have grown very quickly. USF has quickly become a prominent university in the United States and so has USA Gymnastics.
“When I first started judging it was unheard of that an athlete would win even one medal at the international level. Now we are one of the leaders in the world with both the reigning Olympic and World Championship teams. I think that’s what’s happening at USF too. It is quickly developing into a major university nationally and internationally,” Dr. Batsche concluded.