For 13 years, Aki Hummel has been the uneven bars coach for the University of Utah's gymnastics team and coach Greg Marsden's right-hand man.
Now, Hummel is "retiring" from coaching, as Marsden puts it, to co-own a chain of several Massage Envy franchises to open in the Salt Lake Valley this summer.
"It's emotional for him. It's emotional for us," said Marsden, who told the team about the move Monday afternoon in their final meeting of the 2005 season. The Utes' season came to a close Saturday at the NCAA championships, where they finished third and had a pair of Hummel's bars athletes tie for third in the individual event championships.
"We're excited for him," said Marsden, adding he plans to still involve Hummel in the Ute program.
In other news involving the Utes Monday, senior Annabeth Eberle, who won four more all-America citations last weekend, has been made a finalist for the AAI senior gymnast of the year award. Also, Ute associate head coach Megan Marsden was named co-assistant coach of the year.
"I was approached a year ago with an offer, and I thought about it for a long time before making the decision to leave coaching," Hummel said. "I felt like I had to take this opportunity now because it might not come up again. This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make, and I feel like I'm leaving my family."
He indicated he would like to remain part of the Utes, as Marsden said he would.
"I was at a juncture in my coaching career where I realized I couldn't see myself working for any other gymnastics team or athletics department than Utah's," Hummel said. "This way I will get to stay in Salt Lake City and remain involved with Greg and Megan and the team."Named NCAA Region assistant of the year in 1997 and '98, Hummel coached two of Utah's NCAA bars champions, Sandy Woolsey (1994) and Angie Leonard ('99), as well as four-time bars all-American Theresa Kulikowski. Rachel Tidd, ranked No. 1 most of the season despite a bad back, and freshman Ashley Postell, who competed with a bruised and swollen heel, tied for third on Hummel's event last week and were first-team all-Americans. Sophomore Nicolle Ford took second-team honors, giving Hummel 22 first- and seven second-team all-American awards.