Now with a year under its belt, the BYU gymnastics coaching staff reflects on lessons learned about running a women’s program, coaching chemistry and building relationships with the gymnasts.
Head coach Guard Young and assistant coaches Natalie Broekman and Brogan Evanson returned to their alma mater for the 2015-16 season. Not only was Young a first-time head coach, but it was also his first experience coaching women’s gymnastics. Although there are differences, he said the basics are the same.
“When you break it all down to nuts and bolts, it’s still gymnastics at its core,” Young said. “You can’t get away from basics and fundamentals.”
Coming to BYU was quite the transition for all three of them. Young served as an assistant coach with the University of Oklahoma men’s gymnastics team for 10 years and also coached at the international level for a time. Broekman coached club gymnastics, and Evanson focused on judging.
“We’ve all had to learn NCAA rules better, composition for routines and those kinds of things,” Broekman said. “There has definitely been growth there.”
Additionally, the coaches’ different personalities and skill sets form a strong coaching chemistry as they strike a balance.
Broekman described Young as “all gymnastics, all the time,” Evanson as steady and herself as more emotional. She is known as the mother-figure for the team, Young added.
“We’re very much unified in our goals for the girls and for ourselves, as gymnasts, as people and as young professionals,” Evanson said.
The coaching staff spent much of last year building trust and relationships with the gymnasts.
“Last year, we had to come to common ground,” Evanson said. “We had to believe in each other and start to trust each other. We had to start creating a vision and get a foundation.”
Senior Taylor Harward said her relationship with the coaches has become more personal in the last year.
“The relationship I have with them is very important to me because they are huge role models in my life,” Harward said. “They help me to get where I want to be in gymnastics, school and in my future.”
She said the current coaches brought “desire and motivation for change.”
“Guard, Natalie and Brogan have all made us a huge priority and brought us together,” Harward said. “They have really helped us to grow as a team, as well as make changes to help us become more successful.”
Each new season brings with it a new team. Last year, gymnasts of all classes learned together under the new coaching staff. Now that older gymnasts have trained with the coaches for a year, they know what to expect and a separation exists between them and the eight new freshmen.
“The upperclassmen lead the younger and the younger bring this energy that pushes the older girls,” Evanson said. “They all play their own part. Those roles are taking shape and they’re working.”
The Cougars open their season with an away meet at Penn State on Saturday, Jan. 7, before hosting in-state rival No. 9 Utah on Friday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m. MST, at the Marriott Center.
The team will hold a Blue and White Intrasquad meet on Dec. 9, at 6 p.m. MST, in the Smith Fieldhouse. General admission is free to the public.