It has been a whirlwind offseason for coaching changes across the NCAA. According to Greg Marsden, 27 percent of DI women’s gymnastics coaches changed. Now that we are approaching the season (intrasquads are happening!) and training is underway in earnest, teams have seemingly, finally, sorted out their coaches. Here’s a roundup of all of the changes, organized by conference.
Assistant coach Garrett Griffeth and volunteer assistant coach Courtney McCool Griffeth
Arkansas added assistant coach Garrett Griffeth and volunteer assistant Courtney McCool Griffeth to the ranks. The Griffeths come from Texas Woman’s University, where they helped lead the team to great success, including a USAG title and second place finish in the MIC conference. The pair brings SEC experience to Arkansas; McCool Griffeth was a Georgia gymnast and her husband has degrees in sports management and athletic training from Georgia and was a member of the Georgia athletic staff. McCool Griffeth will be the Razorbacks’ floor and choreography coach, so look for improved floor performances in Fayetteville this year.
Head coach Courtney Kupets Carter, assistant coaches Charlie Tamayo and Josh Overton and volunteer assistant coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern
Georgia had the most dramatic changes this year when Danna Durante was fired after the Gym Dogs failed to qualify to the Super Six. In an effort to revive Georgia’s position at the forefront of NCAA gymnastics, the administration brought back stars from the height of its success. New head coach Courtney Kupets Carter is regarded as the best NCAA gymnast of all time, including four team titles, as well as national championships in the all around and on all four events, among other accolades. Kupets Carter has also coached, both as a volunteer at Georgia and at Oconee Gymnastics Club. Esteemed former Georgia head coach Suzanne Yoculan Leebern will be a volunteer. Yoculan Leebern led the Gym Dogs to ten national championship titles, including the four years during Kupets Carter’s tenure.
Kupets Carter has brought on assistant coaches Charlie Tamayo and Josh Overton. Tamayo is an accomplished Cuban elite gymnast and comes to UGA from the United States Naval Academy where he was an assistant coach for the men’s program. Tamayo has also coached elite women’s gymnastics. Overton comes to Georgia from Chow’s Gymnastics and Dance where he was the women’s team head coach. He also spent time at Gwinnett Gymnastics Center in Georgia.
Expect Georgia to look more consistent this year. Though we expect to see the team transform fairly drastically with a cadre of new coaches, it will likely take time.
Assistant coach Jay Hogue
Jay Hogue comes to Denver from the University of Georgia where he was an assistant under Danna Durante. Hogue was previously an assistant at Denver in 2011 and 2012 when he was the vault and bars coach, with his vault squads being especially strong. Look for Hogue to bring his experience from one of the top teams in the NCAA back to Denver and for the team to continue to rise in the ranks.
Assistant coach Kristin White
Assistant coach Kristin White comes to Iowa State after several years as head coach and choreographer at Dynamo Gymnastics in Oklahoma City. She was a two-time All-American at Oklahoma during her competitive career and was a volunteer assistant there as well. White will lead the Cyclones on beam and floor. Given her experience at Oklahoma, which is known for its artistry, and work as team choreographer at Dynamo, look for the Cyclones to have excellent floor and beam routines this year.
Assistant coach Shea Anderson
Shea Anderson was a volunteer assistant coach at Eastern Michigan for vault and floor for three years, including last season under Sarah Shire Brown when the team finished first in the MAC. She also coached part-time at Infinity Gymnastics Academy. Anderson is returning to the Big 12 where she was a member of the Iowa State team on vault, beam and floor from 2009-2012. Anderson will assist the Mountaineers on all four events.
Head coach Nadalie Walsh, assistant coaches Chris Bogantes and Ashley Priess-Johnston
Illinois has completely revamped its coaching staff after several stagnant seasons under Kim Landrus. Nadalie Walsh takes the helm for the Illini after four years as head coach at Utah State and several years leading Ball State and Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Under Walsh, the Aggies qualified to regionals four years in a row and had the program’s highest four finishes since 2007. Walsh brings Chris Bogantes with her to Illinois. Bogantes was with Walsh at both Utah State and Ball State. He has also coached at SEMO, Texas Woman’s and LSU and has elite coaching experience from Elite Gymnastics and Legacy Elite.
Ashley Priess-Johnston joins Bogantes as an assistant. Priess-Johnston is a former national team member and Alabama gymnast where she helped the team win national titles in 2011 and 2012. She served as Alabama team captain for three years. Priess-Johnston has coached at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy since the end of her competitive career.
Expect the Illini to look refreshed under the new staff, and watch to see if they more consistently live up to their scoring potential.
Assistant coach Scott Vetere
Scott Vetere returns to Michigan as an assistant coach. He was a Michigan gymnast from 1999-2003 and an assistant coach for the men’s team from 2005-2009. Vetere was also a national team member before and during his collegiate career. As a men’s assistant coach, Vetere led recruiting efforts, including bringing Sam Mikulak to Ann Arbor. He has also coached Michigan’s summer camps for the past six years. Look for Vetere to fit seamlessly into the coaching staff he already knows well and for Michigan’s recruiting efforts to continue to be strong.
Head coach Mike Rowe and assistant coach Brittney Harris
Michigan State has had a tumultuous year. Head coach Kathie Klages left the team mid-season last year during the Larry Nassar scandal, and Mike Rowe was promoted to interim head coach in her absence. He was officially named head coach for the 2018 season this summer. Rowe was an assistant at MSU for four years, helping bring the team to regionals in 2015 for the first time in several years. Prior to MSU, Rowe coached at Pittsburgh as bars coach and recruiting coordinator.
Rowe has promoted assistant coach Nicole Curler to associate head coach for 2018 and added Brittney Harris to the staff. Harris was a gymnast under Rowe at Pittsburgh where she was a standout athlete. Harris returned to her J.O. club, Parkettes, as a coach after her collegiate career where she was a level 8 and 10 coach and elite assistant.
The MSU athletes had a trying experience throughout 2017, though they finished strong, with three Big Ten floor co-champions after the highest-scoring rotation on any event from any team at the championship with a 49.475. Look for MSU to carry that renewed spirit into 2018 under Rowe.
Assistant coach Chris Brooks
Chris Brooks joins Nebraska as an assistant coach after retiring from his elite competitive career in 2017. Brooks was a longtime national team member, competing on World Championship teams as in 2010 and 2015, as well as the 2016 Olympic team. He also competed for Oklahoma, adding a team national title, team third place finish and floor third place finish. Brooks will coach vault and floor. Look for him to bring some creative tumbling and added power to Nebraska’s squad, as well as maybe some cheeseburgers on beam, blondies and mansions.
Head coach Meredith Paulicivic and assistant coach Lucas Wasson
Former head coach Carey Fagan was promoted to Assistant Athletics Director at the end of the 2017 season amid accusations of athlete mistreatment and fostering of a hostile environment. Meredith Paulicivic comes to Columbus after two seasons as an assistant coach at Utah where she was the vault coach and choreographer. She was also previously an assistant at Arizona and California, as well as the team head coach at SCEGA where she coached six national team members. Paulicivic competed at Utah from 1991-1994 and was a three-time All-American and the team captain during her senior year.
Paulicivic has kept assistant Randy Monahan on the staff and added Lucas Wasson. Wasson is coming off of six years as the optional team coordinator at Perfection Gymnastics. He has also been an elite coach at Buckeye and optional coach at Stars Gymnastics. He coached both Nia Dennis and Lexie Priessman.
Paulicivic and Wasson bring a wealth of big stage coaching experience, both collegiate and elite, to the Buckeyes. Watch for the team to have a stronger foundation this year and keep a close eye on their beam and floor choreography.
Head coach Sarah Shire Brown and assistant coaches Rob Drass and Dallas Becerra
Penn State is another team undergoing a complete coaching overhaul after ousting Jeff and Rachelle Thompson last season after years of accusations of athlete mistreatment. Head coach Sarah Shire Brown comes to Happy Valley after leading Eastern Michigan to the MAC championship title and a No. 27 finish in 2017, its second-best finish ever. Before EMU, Brown was an assistant at SEMO, a volunteer at Michigan and director of operations at Missouri. As a gymnast at Missouri, Brown was Big 12 Gymnast of the Year in 2009 and 2010, as well as 2008 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Brown spent her first year of eligibility at Utah as part of the 2007 team that finished second in the national championship. She was also a national team member from 2002-2005.
Brown added assistants Rob Drass and Dallas Becerra to her staff. Drass was an assistant at Pittsburgh for several years after a long run as head coach at the University of Missouri from 1999-2013 where he coached Brown. He was named Big 12 Coach of the Year in 2002. Drass also previously coached at Nebraska and is an alum of the Penn State men’s gymnastics team. Becerra was Brown’s assistant at EMU where he was the bars coach and recruiting coordinator. Becerra coached the EMU bars squad to a program-best 49.3 and helped Kendall Valentin become the school’s first All-American. He also has level 10 and elite coaching experience at AIM Gymnastics and FlipzUSA.
Look for the Nittany Lions to have a renewed energy under their new coaches, and watch for their bars performances to improve.
Assistant coaches Kait Dewey and Anne Meade
Kait Dewey joins Rutgers as an assistant after spending four years working under Kim Zmeskal-Burdette and Chris Burdette at Texas Dreams, where she was an elite and developmental coach focusing on beam, floor and choreography. Prior to Texas Dreams, Dewey was the head girls coach at World Class Gymnastics Academy. She was also a student-athlete and then coach at Brockport.
Meade comes to Rutgers after one season at Pittsburgh and 16 years coaching club gymnasts at North Stars Gymnastics Academy, coaching high-caliber gymnasts like Alicia Boren. She was the vault and floor coach at Pitt, helping the team improve on both events over the previous year. Meade was an elite at North Stars herself, and was a national team member from 1991-1993. She was the 1991 junior national champion, and competed internationally at the Pan-Am Games. After her elite career ended, Meade competed at New Hampshire form 1995-1999.
Dewey and Meade both bring a great deal of high-level coaching experience to Rutgers, and should help the team move up the ranks in the Big Ten.
Interim head coach John Court, assistant coach Dianna Ranelli, and volunteer assistant coach Andrea Snyder-Pedersen
Arizona lost head coach Tabitha Yim to Stanford very late in the offseason. Rather than rushing through a national search for a new head coach, it promoted assistant John Court to interim head. He has been at Arizona for 19 seasons, specializing in vault and floor, and it well-known for his crazy blazers during competition. Prior to Arizona, Court coached at Vermont, a now-defunct program.
Court has kept assistant coach David McCreary and added Dianna Ranelli to his staff. Ranelli comes to Arizona from Springs Gymnastics where she was the head optional team coach. She also coached at Airborne Gymnastics and Miami School of Gymnastics. Ranelli was a gymnast at Michigan and competed in the Super Six three times.
Court has also named Andrea Snyder-Pedersen volunteer assistant coach. Snyder-Pedersen has been an NCAA judge for 22 years and coached at Saratoga Gymnastics for 23 years.
Arizona struggled last season, with its lowest finish since before 1998. Look for the team to rebuild this year and develop a foundation for the future.
Head coach Tabitha Yim
Yim returns to Stanford as head coach following Kristen Smyth’s departure after an administrative investigation of her coaching practices and the team’s worst finish since at least 1998. Yim led Arizona for two years after acting as assistant coach at Stanford during the program’s two best seasons (2012 and 2015). She was also a standout athlete for the Cardinal from 2005-2008. Yim was a national team member and competed at the world championships in 2001. She specialized as a beam and floor coach and choreographer in the past. Look for Stanford to be a much more competitive team this season, especially on those two events.
Assistant coach Robert Ladanyi and volunteer assistant coach Carly Dockendorf
Robert Ladanyi fills the assistant coaching position vacated by Paulicivic. Ladanyi has a wealth of coaching experience at Denver, Florida and a number of J.O. clubs. He was the Romanian Junior National Team head coach from 1994-1997 and also competed for the Romanian national team himself. While at Florida, Ladanyi coached vault and tumbling for one year before becoming the bar coach. He led Alaina Johnson and Bridget Sloan to bars national titles in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He acted as the floor and vault coach at Denver, helping the team to its program best ninth place finish in 2017.
Volunteer assistant Carly Dockendorf comes to Utah from coaching positions at Seattle Pacific and Falcon Gymnastics Center. Dockendorf was a Canadian national team member and member of the Washington gymnastics and track and field teams. While at Washington, Dockendorf scored a program-record six perfect 10s, five of them on floor. At SPU, Dockendorf coached 21 USAG All-Americans and three USAG national champions. She will serve as Utah’s choreographer.
Though Utah was strong last season across all four events, its weakness was bars. Look for Ladanyi to improve the Utes’ consistency on that event.
Assistant coach Ralph Rosso
Washington adds assistant Ralph Rosso to its ranks for 2018. Rosso was an assistant coach at George Washington in 2017 where he helped the team to the EAGL title and a regionals berth. Prior to GW, Rosso was an assistant and interim head coach at Arizona State, as well as holding positions at Western Michigan and Arkansas. Rosso was a gymnast at Michigan and competed at the national championships all four years of his collegiate career. He was also a junior national team member. Washington has been a team on the rise, and Rosso should add to that trajectory.
Assistant coach Jason Vonk
Jason Vonk comes to George Washington as an assistant after six years in the same position at Yale where he coached vault and bars, as well as coordinated recruiting efforts. Vonk helped Yale to its first ECAC title last season, as well as the program’s highest RQS in program history. Before Yale, Vonk coached at Stars National Gymnastics Village where he coached an athlete to the U.S. Classic. Bars was GW’s weakest event last season, so look for Vonk to help it improve on that event.
Assistant coach Sunny Marchand
Sunny Marchand joins the New Hampshire staff as an assistant following a year as the graduate assistant for Ball State’s athletics program. Prior to Ball State, Marchand was an assistant at Bowling Green on vault and floor, as well as a club coach at Synergy Gymnastics and Ace Gymnastics. As an athlete, Marchand competed for Bowling Green and was co-captain her senior season in 2013. She also competed at the 2006 U.S. Classic. Marchand will serve primarily as the vault coach and as recruiting coordinator but will assist on all four events.
Assistant coaches Marie Case Denick and Taylor Spears
North Carolina adds assistant coaches Marie Case Denick and Taylor Spears to its staff after losing both of its assistants to Utah State. Case Denick previously served as assistant coach at Bowling Green where she primarily coached vault and floor. Last year, she coached an athlete to the MAC floor title. Before BGSU, Case Denick was a volunteer at Kent State, her alma mater. During her competitive career, she was MAC Gymnast of the Year in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and MAC Freshman of the Year in 2011. She also took the MAC all around title in 2013 and 2014.
Spears comes to UNC from Oklahoma, where she was a student-athlete and, after graduating, volunteer assistant. While competing, Spears was part of OU’s first national championship-winning team and took the beam title in 2014. She was also a head coach at the Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy and coached an athlete to the J.O. national beam title.
North Carolina is strong on beam, and Spears should help it shine there. Case Denick will also be a huge asset on vault and floor. North Carolina should look well-rounded in 2018.
North Carolina State
Head coach Kim Landrus and assistant coach Philip Ogletree
Kim Landrus takes over the N.C. State program after seven years as head coach at Illinois and 15 total years with the program. Landrus led the Illini to program-best finishes (11th) in 2011, 2013 and 2014. Before Illinois, Landrus was an assistant coach for two years at Iowa State, her alma mater. Landrus was Iowa State’s first national qualifier in 1997 and scored the first perfect 10 in program history on floor. She competed there under current Oklahoma coach K.J. Kindler.
Landrus has kept assistant coach Bob Starkell on staff and added Phillip Ogletree. Ogletree is coming off five season as an assistant at Georgia and many years at LSU. At Georgia, Ogletree led three gymnasts to SEC event titles and coached Brandie Jay to her 2016 national vault title. As an athlete, Ogletree competed for the men’s team at Georgia from 1980-1982. He will coach the Wolfpack on vault and floor.
Landrus and Ogletree bring experience from three top-25 programs to N.C. State. Look for the Wolfpack to gain strength and begin rising in the rankings.
Head coach Samantha Snider and assistant coaches Ryan Snider and Dave Kuzara
Samantha Snider joins Pittsburgh as head coach after nine years at Arkansas. Snider was an Arkansas athlete and held a number of coaching titles, including two seasons as associate head coach. As the beam and floor coach and choreographer for the Razorbacks, Snider coached six NCAA event finalists and 14 All-Americans. During her collegiate career at Arkansas, Snider was part of the team’s first two NCAA championship appearances.
Snider has brought her husband, Ryan Snider, and Dave Kuzara to Pitt as assistants. Ryan Snyder was a volunteer assistant coach at Arkansas in 2015 and 2016, where he coached vault and assisted on bars and floor. He has club coaching experience as head team coach at Ariel Athletics where he coached 15 athletes to full-ride athletic scholarships. Kuzara joins Pitt from Michigan where he had been an assistant for four years, coaching vault and floor and leading Joanna Sampson to a national floor title. Kuzara also coached at Western Michigan, Massachusetts (a now-defunct team), West Virginia and Arkansas.
Pittsburgh will look to rely on the experience of its coaches to guide it to a regionals berth this year. Look for the team to strengthen and rise in the rankings in the years to come.
Assistant coach: ???
Yale has not filled the assistant coaching position vacated by Vonk’s move to George Washington.
Assistant coach Marissa Beucler and volunteer assistant coach Alaska Richardson
Marissa Beucler joins the Bowling Green coaching staff after one year at Capital City Athletics, where she coached levels 3 through 10. Beucler competed at Kentucky from 2012-2016, helping the team to its second- and third-best scores in program history. She will coach vault and floor and assist with choreography.
Alaska Richardson has been a coach for two seasons at Sunrise Gymnastics where she taught developmental gymnastics classes. Richardson competed for West Virginia from 2009-2013 and was a regionals individual qualifier.
Beucler and Richardson bring big-stage experience to BGSU and should help the team build and grow.
Head coach Katie Teft-Minasola and assistant coach Stephen Graham
Eastern Michigan has been through a coaching roller coaster. Sarah Shire Brown was head coach for one season in 2017 then left for the head coaching role at Penn State. EMU then named Josh Nilsen head coach, but he stepped down for personal reasons. Finally, Katie Teft-Minasola was pegged for the role. Teft-Minasola has been at Iowa State for six years as assistant and then associate head coach. She was the Cyclones’ beam coach and assisted with choreography. She coached a program-best beam squad for Iowa State in 2015, and her beam teams were regularly ranked in the top 25. Before Iowa State, Teft-Minasola coached at Michigan State where she focused on floor choreography. Competitively, Teft-Minasola was the 1994 junior all around champion at the U.S. Classic and American Classic. She competed internationally at the Pan American Games in 1995 and was named an alternate to the 1996 Olympic team. Teft-Minasola was also a standout athlete at the University of Massachusetts and then Central Michigan.
Stephen Graham joins EMU after 11 years coaching levels 9 and 10, as well as elite, at Woodward West, where he was head coach on vault, bars and floor. He also served one year as women’s team coach at SoCal Gymnastics Training Center. Graham’s other coaching experience is from Vernon Lee Amateur Gymnastics Academy, Monarchs National and Platinum Gymnastics. Graham was a member of UCLA’s men’s gymnastics team in 2004 and 2007 and was team captain both years. Graham won the NAIGC national floor and high bar titles in 2007.
After EMU’s tumultuous offseason, the team will hope to finally settle in under Teft-Minasola. Watch for EMU to build and grow over the next few years and continue its upward trajectory.
Assistant coach Ashley Lawson
Ashley Lawson joins Lindenwood after several years at Southeast Missouri where she was the beam coach. Three SEMO gymnasts qualified to regionals on beam under her coaching in 2010. Before SEMO, Lawson coached at Suncoast Gymnastics and Southern Starz. Lawson was a gymnast at SEMO from 2001-2004 and holds the school record on bars, beam, floor and the all around. Look for Lawson to help Lindenwood improve its beam scores this season.
Texas Woman’s (DII)
Assistant coaches Stephen Hood and Kristen Meyers
Stephen Hood comes to Texas Woman’s as an assistant coach after four years as a member of the University of Central Florida cheer team, including two years as world champions. Hood has been a women’s coach at Flip Fest Summer Gymnastics Camp since 2012 where he leads spotting and technique clinics and serves as lead coach for the highest ability group.
Kristen Meyers has been with TWU for two years as a volunteer assistant. She has helped develop beam and bars practice plans and created conditioning workouts. Before TWU, Meyers was a student assistant coach and manager at Utah State.
TWU lost big talent when the Griffeths moved to Arkansas but look for Hood to help the team build strong tumbling and floor work and expect it to be competitive in the USAG national title race.
Assistant coach Josh Nilson
Josh Nilson lands at Air Force after accepting and then resigning from the head coaching position at EMU this summer. Nilson was the co-interim head coach at Penn State following the departure of the Thompsons and helped the Nittany Lions to a strong 2017 finish. Prior to Penn State, Nilson was an assistant at Utah State and Texas Woman’s. Nilson has experience leading top 30 teams, so expect Air Force to start climbing in the rankings over the next few years.
Head coach Tanya Ho
It seems as though we are always on the verge of saying goodbye to the Alaska program—last year because of athletic budget cuts and this year because head coach Paul Stoklos, who originated the program, retired. Thankfully, the Seawolves are back for at least another year under Tanya Ho. Ho comes to Anchorage after five seasons at Sacramento State where she helped lead the team to two MPSF titles. She coached beam and bars and mentored 2017 MPSF bars champion Caitlin Soliwoda. Ho competed for UC Davis where she was the first gymnast to individually qualify to regionals for three straight years.
Ho has kept assistant coach Alina Cartwright on the staff but has not named a second assistant. Look for Alaska to enter this season with renewed energy and competitiveness in the MPSF under Ho.
Assistant coach Nicole Meiller
Nicole Meiller joins the Sacramento State staff as an assistant coach after several years coaching at Elevate Gymnastics and as the director of My Gym Children’s Fitness Center. Meiller was a Sac State gymnast from 2010-2013 and was a three-time regionals qualifier. Meiller will coach bars, her premiere event as an athlete, and will choreograph floor routines. She competed a triple twisting dismount on bars, so look for heightened originality on that event this year from Sac State.
Seattle Pacific (DII)
Assistant coach Deni Maxwell
Deni Maxwell is familiar name at Seattle Pacific. She returns as an assistant coach after a tenure in the position from 1998-2000. Maxwell (nee Boswell) was a gymnast at SPU from 1995-1998 and was the USAG all around and bars national champion in 1998, as well as the bars champion in 1996. She also coached levels 4 through 10 at Northwest Aerials. Expect her to help SPU improve its bar scores this season.
Head coach Amy Smith and assistant coaches Whitnee Johnson and Harris Bergman
Amy Smith joins the Aggies after five years at North Carolina where she was the Tar Heels’ associate head coach since 2014. Prior to UNC, Smith coached at UCLA and Missouri and was a choreographer at Florida and Kentucky. Smith competed at UCLA, helping the Bruins with their first NCAA championship in 1997. While at Florida, Smith choreographed routines for six All-Americans. Smith was a motivating force behind the UNC-Florida Pride meet this past season.
Smith brings Whitnee Johnson with her from UNC. Johnson was at UNC for two years and coached vault and floor. She also coached at Kent State, her alma mater. As a gymnast, Johnson helped lead Kent State to two regular season MAC championships in 2013 and 2014. She will coach vault and assist on floor. Joining Johnson on Smith’s staff is Harris Bergman. Bergman comes to Logan from New Hampshire where he helped the team advance to regionals. Bergman has also been a volunteer assistant at Pitt. He competed as a gymnast until an injury caused him to switch to diving. As a Pitt diver, Bergman was a three-time regional qualifier.
Utah State has been successful for the past four seasons. Look for Smith and her staff to build on the program that Nadalie Walsh built and help the team continue to climb in the rankings.
Article by Emily Minehart