It’s nice to go out on my own terms. It is rare for a head coach to have the chance to retire any more. It is never easy to step away, but I’m grateful that I had a chance to make that decision in a timeframe that is best for me and for the program.
I look back now and it was just kind of a feeling. I was reflecting recently that, early in my tenure, my strategy was for me to coach until I was 62 and fully turn the program over to René, my wife and co-head coach, to continue as the sole head coach. Of course, it didn’t work out that way.
I had to adapt from that plan. I had to keep things going, continue to grow and build this program and I feel like I have reached the point where I will be okay turning it over to someone else. The Razorbacks are in a good place.
Expectations have always been really high and maintaining and adapting to meet those expectations is hard. By the very nature of our sport, gymnastics is the chase of perfection. When a gymnast steps to the runway or steps to the floor, everything is possible. From there, scrutiny sets in. Whether it is a slight deduction for a bobble on the beam or a major deduction for stepping outside the boundary, a routine begins with an elevated start value but often ends with a final score short of its maximum potential.
Each and every day you work to perfect the little things in an attempt to make a good routine great and a great routine perfect. It isn’t that you don’t celebrate the remarkable accomplishments along the way. We have had many! But your focus is always on what is next and how we can make it better. For nearly two decades, that is the lens in which I have viewed my role within our program.
However, now as I step away from what has been an all-consuming pursuit, I am able to view with more clarity not just the imperfections of the journey, but celebrate the accomplishments that were born out of those opportunities.
As I faced a difficult transition in both my personal and professional life, it was really a challenge to replicate the dynamic that René and I had in the early days of the program. However, I made a commitment to myself that I would work to get back to that nationally-competitive level. It is not something that I accomplished on my own, but thanks to the efforts of my coaching staff and our student-athletes, I am confident we are trending in that direction again.
Few coaches have the opportunity to help shape a program since its inception. That opportunity and challenge was what first drew René and me to the University of Arkansas.