Simone Biles' longtime coach and dear friend Aimee Boorman is moving on – but she will always be 'part of the family'

By Rose Minutaglio
Updated September 08, 2016 10:45 AM
Credit: Matthias Schrader/AP

Simone Biles‘ coach for 11 years, Aimee Boorman, spent years getting to know the “deep and soulful and thoughtful and caring” 5-time Olympic medalist, but she says “people don’t always see that because it’s not broadcast.”

“Everybody else looks at her for her gymnastics and they don’t know who she truly is,” Boorman, 43, tells PEOPLE of the 19-year-old champion. “I’ve been with her for so many days and hours… that I’m jaded. But she’s sweet and loving, selfless both in athletics and in her personal life.”

Boorman – who announced that she will no longer coach Biles after accepting a new job with EVO Athletics in August – helped mold the young athlete into, arguably, the greatest gymnast the sport has ever seen with a rigorous workout schedule (“30 hours a week together”), positive reinforcement in tough times – and lots of love. “I’m basically part of the family!” Boorman says of her many invitations to Biles family birthday parties.

And the years she spent with her student paid off this summer.

In August, at the duo’s first Olympic Games, Biles picked up four gold medals and one bronze – including the coveted individual all-around title.

“It’s a great thing to be a part of,” says Boorman, who had never coached an elite gymnast before Biles.

A photo posted by Simone Biles (@simonebiles) on Aug 12, 2016 at 1:39pm PDT

At the Olympic trials in July, Biles received top scores, becoming one of the most-talked about gymnasts in history. Garnering the nickname ‘The Michael Jordan of gymnastics,’ she was the top medal contendor in almost every event.

And she didn’t disappoint – Biles picked up gold in the team all-around, individual all-around, vault and floor exercise and bronze on the beam.

But it was Biles’ performance off the mat (and vault and beam) that made Boorman burst with pride.

“She wanted everyone to do well, she cheered for people from other countries – ‘You can do it!’ ” says Boorman. “If she saw someone struggling, she’d be the first to speak up and say, ‘Hey, you got this!’ As a human, how she treats people, is amazing. That’s the stuff that’s not broadcast! ”

The end of an era

After Biles picked up her Rio hardware, after Zac Efron kissed her on the cheek, after she landed the covers of TIME, Sports Illustrated and PEOPLE – Boorman told her beloved gymnast that she could no longer coach her after accepting a position with Evo Athletics in Sarasota, Florida.

“It wasn’t like somebody died, it’s just moving on,” says Boorman of the amicable split. “When I talked to her, she had a moment of sadness, but she understands.”

She adds, “I equate it to sending your child off to college. You’re nervous and worried about them, and I’m sad I won’t get to see her every day, but I’m so excited for her.

“Everyone needs more Simone Biles in their life.”