Faehn Resigns, Rowland's Reign Begins

8:54 PM Arabian Punch Front 1 Comments

Photo Credit: Mark Almond

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the changes that have happened since they came on so suddenly and still don't really make sense to me.

Well, there's Greg Marsden's retirement which makes sense and was bound to happen. I found myself asking often "Who is Tom Farden and why is nobody talking about him?" Well, now we know. He and Megan Marsden were seen more on the floor while Greg Marsden stepped aside, allowing for a seamless transition. He's done excellent work with Utah on bars and vault as evidenced by the numerous 10s the Utes received this season. 

Then there's this Rhonda Faehn change which makes close to zero sense to me. 

Just a few days after returning home with a national championship, the three time national champion coach has decided to leave Florida for a job at USA Gymnastics. Her technical title is Senior Vice President of Women's Program. This position currently doesn't exist but Luan Peszek, mother of Samantha Peszek, will now report to Faehn it seems. Faehn will be dealing with club membership from the recreational level up to elite. I have no clue what that really means. She will also be working closely with Martha Karolyi but not sure in what capacity.

Faehn said: “This amazing opportunity with USA Gymnastics provides a new and different way for me to impact young lives. I will always love the University of Florida and will treasure my time here. But my passion and excitement for Elite gymnastics is pulling me a different direction and the timing is right for me and my family. I want to have a positive influence on the athletes and coaches that will represent our country at the highest level.”

It just doesn't make sense to me to go from a successful coaching career to an administrative role. Something must have changed or something better will be coming along. Since she was working closely with Martha and she's a successful coach, we jumped to the possibility of her taking Martha's job. However, I still believe that position is Valeri's. Instead, what if she's in line for Steve Penny's job? I have no clue. There's clearly something bigger than what we're all privy to which is fine. 

Florida has since announced that Jenny Rowland, former Auburn associate head coach, will be Faehn's replacement. Like Faehn, Rowland has experience at the highest level in gymnastics. She was a National Team member from 1985-1990 and was a member of the 1989 US World Championship team. She later competed for Arizona State and earned the school's first 10.0 on the uneven bars. Rowland has great experience as both an elite and college coach. At Auburn, she was primarily responsible for recruiting and served as their beam coach. She also has experience as a judge which helps when considering routine construction. Rowland turning Auburn into a very strong beam team is something that will be useful for Florida. Although Florida remained a top team throughout the season, beam was often the event that they faltered on and Rowland's expertise will only help as they lose 2 senior routines - Kytra Hunter and Rachel Spicer.

Then the other question: what will happen to the recruits? Florida has a steady group of recruits coming in, all of elite caliber. Was that intentional? Was there some bigger plan?  All in all, I still think most gymnasts will stay with Florida because they are 3-time defending champion, the 2 assistant coaches are still there, and the ladies that make up the team they fell in love with are still there. I think Florida's legacy is enough to keep people interested in the same way many gymnasts are still choosing UCLA despite their slow decline in the ranks.

Overall, I think Florida and Jenny Rowland will be fine. I think they have a strong group of athletes that staying at the top in the nation is entirely possible and still to be expected. I'm excited to see what will happen next season.

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