It’s March 2017. BYU and Southern Utah are competing in a regular season dual. SUU head coach Scotty Bauman watches as his gymnast finishes her beam routine and another waits to begin hers. Bauman realizes he’s had too much water and needs to use the restroom. It’s not a hasty decision to suddenly skirt out between routines, but after 27 years of going to the BYU Smith Fieldhouse, the coach is familiar with the facility.
He knows the BYUtv replay system usually gives the next gymnast a few minutes to mount the apparatus. Acquainted with the field house layout and confident in the replay system, Bauman figures he has enough time to go.
Bauman reaches the men’s room, but there’s a line, something he hadn’t seen before. Having already walked across the facility, Bauman decides to wait. After all, what could he possibly miss?
As it turns out, a lot.
After leaving the men’s bathroom, he returns to the Smith Field house where one of the BYU gymnasts runs up to him, telling him Stacy Webb had just scored a perfect 10, the first in the school’s history.
Bauman looks across the gym and sees his team celebrating.
“There’s no way that just happened. I went up to her, and she’s just crying. She gives me the biggest hug,” Bauman said. “It was the coolest moment—but kind of the weirdest because it’s one of the only routines I ever not watched in 38 years of coaching NCAA, and I missed that one.”
He doesn’t recall the story with regret but with his trademarked sense of humor and down-to-earth demeanor.
Bauman’s coaching didn’t begin inside a gym, but fittingly, outside on a Utah ski slope. For nine years he wasn’t a gymnast but a competitive aerial skier. Since aerial skiing entails learning acrobatic skills, he became interested in gymnastics.
After enrolling at Utah State, Bauman joined the university’s gymnastics staff, where he gained the coaching experience that later led to him becoming Southern Utah’s head coach in 1991.
Bauman and his team have since climbed the collegiate gymnastics mountain, beginning by rounding up extra athletes to compete as a team. In the 31 years since he took the helm, the Flippin’ Birds have made it to NCAA regionals eight straight times. The team’s total score jumped from 182.160 in 1991 (the year before he came) to a school record of 197.275 against Utah State in the 2021 season.
While the numbers speak for themselves, showing the grassroots journey of a regular top 20 team, they alone aren’t indicative of Bauman’s success.
Bauman says his team implements a well-thought-out plan when it comes to recruiting and training, admitting that because they are a smaller school, they are willing to work hard.
“We are always evolving as a program,” he said. “We’ve encouraged our coaches and athletes to keep learning and to understand the process that comes with that. Most of the time, that process is fun, exciting and fulfilling. Other times it can be painful and frustrating, like watching someone in our family get injured. Regardless, if it’s in the gym or not, you are always on a path of growth,”
Bauman’s goal is to give each gymnast a positive experience, but with that comes honesty.
“I think my athletes would agree that I have very high expectations, but I’m very honest and fair with them at all times,” he said.
Assistant coach Jamie Wysong says Bauman builds trust with the team because of his ability to tell the truth in a sincere, meaningful way.
“Not everything is rainbows and butterflies in gymnastics. You always know why. You always know when. There’s always a reason behind it. It’s always logical,” Wysong said.
Senior Morgan Alfaro echoes the sentiment.
“He does not sugarcoat things, whether you like it or not,” she said. “He will be completely honest with you. He lets you know, straight up, what’s going on, so then there are no surprises in the end. He expects a lot from his athletes, and we know that coming into the program.”
In addition to honesty, Bauman is proud his program has always been built around respect. He believes the gymnasts must respect themselves, coaches and teammates.
His trademark sense of humor and professional yet folksy manner distinguishes him from other coaches. It is perhaps why he built and maintained so many student-athletes and coaching relationships during his tenure.
With a philosophy of trying to surround himself with remarkable people, he’s on a mission to bring the best out in them, often encouraging them to take a step back and reflect on their purpose.
Alfaro knows this first hand.
After a high school injury, the vault specialist started losing her love for the sport during her freshman year. Bauman could see her mood changing and suggested Alfaro take her first year to find her passion again. They agreed not to push her into all four events, instead taking the year to rediscover her enthusiasm.
“Scott is the reason why I’ve got my love for gymnastics again, and he just showed me why I wanted to do gymnastics,” Alfaro said. “I did it for myself, and I didn’t have to do it for anyone else.”
Bauman says his staff of Wysong, assistant coach Jeff Richards and volunteer assistant coach Adam Ahquin develop leadership skills in all their athletes, noting that every class from the freshmen to the fifth years are equally important. Each class has specific responsibilities, and everyone knows their roles within the program.
Alfaro explains that when a new gymnast starts, whether she’s a recruited athlete or a walk-on, they are treated the same. He doesn’t necessarily see them as athletes but looks to other qualities that they don’t know yet—like leadership. She says that Bauman is good at pushing athletes out of their safe place and encouraging them to step up and lead the team.
“He sees you as a leader before you can see it in yourself. He’s good at pushing us out of our comfort zone,” Alfaro said.
He refuses to take credit for any of these vast accomplishments. When pressed, he will insist everything the team has achieved is due to his student-athletes and staff. Bauman thinks of himself as the “fourth best coach on the team.”
Wysong disagrees with that assessment but says that Bauman is the first to give others credit—and it’s never about himself. He’s built a considerable camaraderie not only with the team but with his coaching staff, where they enjoy boating together, game nights and barbecues. Wysong says it’s one of Bauman’s strengths that the group enjoys each other’s company.
“He recruits the athletes, and he recruits great people. In his staff, he looks for great people as well. That’s what makes us really like each other,” Wysong said.
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Article by Kelly Feng
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