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Last Week in College Gym: Aug. 23

There’s a lot that happens on the gymternet each week. So much so that it can be hard to keep track of it all. From training updates and COVID year announcements to recruiting rumors and coaching news, we don’t blame you for missing some important points here and there.

That’s where we come in. Last Week in College Gym is your one-stop shop for all the important headlines from the previous week in college gymnastics. No matter if you’re taking a social media break, went on vacation or just don’t have the capacity to follow every single gymnast, team and fan, we have you covered.

Top Storylines

Former Utah State head coach Ray Corn dies at 71

Corn was the first head coach in Aggies gymnastics history, taking over the program for the 1978 season. He was a six-time conference coach of the year and a one-time regional coach of the year. He led the Aggies to five conference championships. Corn had a successful 31-year coaching career, culminating in his induction into the Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2015.  

Denver adds LIU transfer Emma Brown

Denver announced Thursday that Emma Brown will rejoin the team as a junior, transferring back to her original team after spending last season at Long Island University. As a freshman in 2020, Brown contributed on beam and floor for the Pioneers. She did not compete for LIU in 2021 after opting out due to COVID-19. On her decision, Brown said, “I am thrilled to be returning to the DU campus and gymnastics team. When the opportunity presented itself to come back to a place where the team culture of character, teamwork and excellence – in the classroom, gymnastics and in life – reflects my own values, I was overwhelmed with gratitude and jumped at the chance. I am so blessed to be welcomed back with open arms and warm hearts. I believe that everyone has their own path, and there are lessons to be learned along our journeys. I am glad that my journey has led me back to DU with a renewed sense of joy, strength, motivation and gratitude.”

What our Editors are saying… 

It’s virtually unheard of for a gymnast to rejoin the team they transferred from, so this move raises some interesting questions. I would have expected that Brown left LIU simply for more competitive opportunities, but her statement seems to hint at cultural problems within the program. I hope her transfer isn’t a sign of things to come for this new program. On the other hand, I’m thrilled that Denver was willing to welcome her back. There is often drama perceived around transfers, but young adults making decisions about their athletic and academic careers doesn’t have to be that way.” — Ryan Wichtendahl, Big 12 Editor

Other Newsworthy Items

  • Former Minnesota standout Paige Williams was named the new SEMO graduate assistant coach.
  • Taylor Colwell was renamed a volunteer assistant coach for Lindenwood. The 2020 Lindenwood graduate was also a volunteer assistant under Jen Llewellyn last season. 
  • Former Iowa State gymnast Laura Burns will return to the Cyclones as a volunteer assistant coach.
  • Arizona added to its coaching staff, naming Mary Jansson as the volunteer assistant coach for the 2022 season.
  • A handful of future and former NCAA gymnasts announced they will be joining Simone Biles’ Gold Over America Tour this fall. Participants include former Ute Mykayla Skinner and former Bruins Nia Dennis and Peng-Peng Lee, as well as Utah freshman Grace McCallum, UCLA freshman Jordan Chiles, Florida freshman Morgan Hurd and Oregon State freshman Jade Carey.
  • Bridgeport named Mark Sorrentino its new assistant coach. 
  • Freshman Riley McCusker was seen in a boot in a photo with other members of the class of 2025. McCusker, alongside Leanne Wong, Brie Edwards and Sloane Blakely are pictured on campus. 
  • Grace McCallum moved onto campus, despite participating in Gold Over America Tour this fall. McCallum answered in a Q&A on Instagram that she is enrolled in all online classes for the upcoming semester. 

NIL Brand Deals

  • Oklahoma sophomore Audrey Davis teased a collaboration with Salute Leos, a Georgia-based company focused on comfortable gymnastics apparel. Salute Leos also features designs by Kentucky senior Josie Angeny, incoming LSU freshman Aleah Finnegan and Auburn senior Derrian Gobourne.
  • Auburn freshman and Olympic all around champion Sunisa Lee is represented by Smith + Saint. Smith + Saint also represents 2008 Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin and Lee’s 2020 teammate Jade Carey. 
  • Kennedy Hambrick, Arkansas senior, signed an NIL deal with Liquid IV. Liquid IV is an electrolyte hydration sports drink company. 
  • Olivia Dunne, LSU sophomore, signed with WME Agency and is the first collegiate athlete since the NCAA rule change to sign with the agency.  WME represents some of the top performers in the sports and entertainment industry. Dunne is currently the most followed collegiate athlete on social media with over 5.5 million across platforms. 
  • Florida Freshman Riley McCusker has signed with Shade Global. Shade Global also represents 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist and former club teammate Laurie Hernandez. 
  • Sophomore Elena Arenas, LSU, and Grace McCallum, Utah, are partnering with Michael Kors for the #MKGO line. 

Training Updates

  • TWU freshman Sierra Muns is training a Gienger on bars. 
  • The UW-La Crosse freshmen have been on fire this week with training update videos on Instagram. Kyla Dickson showed off multiple beam dismounts—a roundoff one and a half and a gainer full. Classmate Abigail Mitchell’s Instagram featured training videos of piked Jaegers. Rachel Chesley posted a strong double layout bar dismount.
  • Towson rising sophomore Cassidy Stuart is training a Yurchenko one and a half on vault. Teammate and rising junior Jenna Weitz is training a double layout on floor.
  • Denver posted training updates on Instagram, including a double layout tumbling run from sophomore Abbie Thompson.
  • Georgia sophomore Katie Finnegan posted a training update with a front one and a half to front full combo pass on floor. Finnegan did not compete the event in 2021 because she was limited in her freshman year with an early season concussion. 
  • Centenary junior Kendall Huff was seen training a tucked Yurchenko one and a half on Instagram. 
  • Georgia junior Haley de Jong posted a training video of a Yurchenko one and a half on her Instagram stories. 

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Article by the editors of College Gym News

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