Born: January 23, 1981
Alyssa Erin Beckerman was born January 23, 1981 in Long Branch and grew up in Middletown. She was the second of three children born to Melanie and Howard Beckerman. She began taking gymnastics classes at the age of five and was soon winning local and regional competitions.
In 1997, Alyssa was invited to join the U.S. Gymnastics team. She moved to Wyoming, Ohio, where she began training under Mary Lee Tracy of the Cincinnati Gymnastic Academy. She attended Wyoming High, one of the top public schools in the state. Tracy proved a harsh and demanding coach; she worked Alyssa out 10 hours many days, and restricted her diet to just over 1,000 calories a day. Between the workouts and the anti-inflammatories she gulped down, she eventually develop an ulcer.
Alyssa’s first big moment in senior competition came at the age of 17 when she finished second in the all-around at the 1998 EcoAir Gymnastics Cup. It was only her second international competition. That year she also finished second to Elise Ray on the uneven bars at the 1998 National Championships in Indianapolis. She missed the 1999 World Champions due to a wrist injury. In 2000, Alyssa won the balance beam at the U.S. Championships and finished second in the uneven bars.
Alyssa was named an alternate over Shannon Miller for the 2000 Olympics but did not compete in the Summer Games in Australia. She had an opportunity when Morgan White (who also trained at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy) was injured, but the coaching staff selected another alternate, Tasha Schwikert instead.
That fall, Alyssa enrolled at UCLA and became a member of the school’s gymnastics team. In 2001–02 she was PAC-10 co-champion in the balance beam and earned first-team All-America recognition in that event.
The following season, Alyssa was a key member of the Bruins’ NCAA championship squad. However, she missed the NCAA Tournament after injuring her knee toward the end of the season, during a meet with Michigan. Tired battling a string of nagging injuries, she stepped away from competitive gymnastics after that and graduated from UCLA with a degree in Sociology. During her career she had broken nine bones and undergone two surgeries. She had also developed an eating disorder.
Since then, Alyssa has been outspoken about the culture of gymnastics in America and its negative effects in young competitors. In a 2018 interview, she described USA Gymnastics as being broken, and pointed out that Larry Nassar preyed upon that broken system. Alyssa is currently an instructor at Head Over Heels Gymnastics in Middletown.