LIU: Building a Program From the Ground Up

When Long Island University officially announced it would be starting a women’s gymnastics program, leading this program in its inaugural season was not Randy Lane’s plan.

“It was not in my thoughts at all,” Lane said. 

His primary focus has always been to help grow the sport. While talking with the LIU athletic department about the logistics of adding gymnastics as a sport, athletic director Dr. Bill Martinov knew Lane was someone he wanted as a head coach. About 25 to 30 people applied for the position, and at the end of Martinov and Lane’s discussion about the strengths and weaknesses of each candidate, Martinov had just one more question for Lane.

“We haven’t talked about one person,” Martinov said. “How about you?”

Lane said he took about a month to consider Martinov’s offer. In the end, he accepted it. While the prospect was unexpected, Lane is excited about the opportunity.

“As I’m getting near the end of my career as a coach, being able to develop and grow something and build something has always been at the forethought of my brain,” Lane said. “I’m excited.”

With the head coach position secured, Lane then had to find the right coaches to help him lead the team. For him, it was important to find a complete coaching staff that would be able to develop each athlete to her full potential.

“It’s really [about] finding a coaching staff that is complete in the sense of being able to balance out my strengths and weaknesses and being able to step in and develop not only a great athlete, but a great person,” Lane said. “It was really important for me to have a very diverse staff in all regards, whether it’s age, gender [or] ethnicity. And I really wanted to bring [in] people that had special qualities to them.”

One of the people he identified is assistant coach Hallie Mossett. Mossett had previously worked with Lane, both as a student athlete and as a student assistant coach at UCLA. Before he was even announced as head coach, Lane reached out to Mossett.

”He reached out to me and was asking me about how I felt about moving away [from Los Angeles] and possibly joining a new gymnastics program in New York,” Mossett said. “I wasn’t really sure how I felt about moving across the country.”

As Mossett has lived in Los Angeles all her life, she was apprehensive about moving across the country for the first time, but after Lane was officially hired and after many discussions between them, she realized it was a great opportunity for her.

“We had a lot of conversations about how awesome it would be to be a part of this new first program at [LIU], and I loved working with him when I was at UCLA,” Mossett said. “I eventually realized that it would be a good thing for me to do—get a new start and try my hand at assistant coaching. Who better to be the assistant coach for than Randy?”

The third member of the coaching staff is volunteer assistant coach Lauren Marinez. Marinez was a gymnast at Michigan and most recently served as the volunteer assistant coach at Rutgers. While Mossett and Lane did not know Marinez as well before this, both have crossed paths with her before and know she will be an integral part of this inaugural team.

“[Marinez is] so awesome and has a lot of passion for the sport,” Mossett said. “I’m really excited to learn from her as well and see what she brings to the team.”

The final piece to this inaugural team is the gymnasts. Despite such a quick turnaround between the announcement of the team and the 2021 season, as well as being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a lot of interest from recruits. Lane said that over 90 women showed interest in joining the program and that he looked at both athletic ability as well as academic track record to choose those who would join the inaugural team.

“Every single woman that I recruited I feel could contribute gymnastically. Every single woman that I recruited I knew could and would hopefully be successful at LIU academically,” Lane said. 

In the end, 20 women committed to be part of LIU’s first squad. They hail from six different countries and represent all eight USA Gymnastics regions. 

“I think we have a great team,” Mossett said. “We have girls coming from all different walks of life, from all different parts of the world. I like the diversity that we are creating so that the girls can bring such different flavors to the team and also teach each other about where they come from.”

When asked what he was looking forward to the most, Lane said celebrating all the firsts.

“That first athlete that goes up in our first meet is going to set a school record, and I want to celebrate that. I want to celebrate every step of the way,” Lane said. “This year, it’s really important for the women to understand that they are a part of this team this first year, and they’ve already left a legacy. They are the pioneers of this program and they are the first team ever at Long Island University. I’m just going to celebrate that and not focus on results or focus on things that are out of our control.”


Article by Mary Emma Burton

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