Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Lindenwood Lions - About the Program

A few months ago, I was pleased to find out that a new NCAA Eligible Gymnastics team would be launched near my hometown of St. Louis, MO. Lindenwood University, a private liberal arts college based in "Judeo-Christian Values", will begin its new gymnastics program in the 2012-2013 school year.

Get a Grip will be following the Lady Lions through their inaugural year, beginning now, working to learn more about the program, its coaches and its recruits all the way through the conclusion their 2013 season, and possibly even beyond!

I recently spoke with the head coach of the Lindenwood Lions, Gretchen Goerlitz, who competed for Utah State & University of Denver, was later a graduate coaching assistant at Texas Women's University and went on to coach Centenary College's Division III Team.

(Property of Gretchen Goerlitz)
Coming from Centenary, how did you make the decision to move to Lindenwood to build a program from the bottom up? 
"When I heard there was a university adding the sport of gymnastics I was immediately fascinated and excited.  I became enthralled with the idea of being able to be a part of making history for the sport of gymnastics. Growing the sport is something that I am completely passionate about; to be able to increase the opportunities for young women and give them a positive experience to help prepare each student-athlete for the battles of life is an incredible gift that inspires me.  The actual decision to leave Centenary and pursue the journey at Lindenwood University was one of faith.  I believe that all my past experiences have prepared me for this next challenge – and because of that , this is where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing.  I have faith that I am prepared for it and that I am the right leader for the job."

How does a coach begin to recruit gymnasts to a program without any history what so ever? 
"Just like anything, you begin with the end in mind and take it one step at a time to reach your end goals!  After the school announced the addition of the program there was a trickle of interest and I began from there, from answering all the emails and phone calls that I received and it has continued to gain momentum from there!  When it’s time to make a decision of what girls are the perfect fit for this program, I look at the end goal of where I want this program to be in five years and get my answer from that.  As a whole, I think the more we can promote the addition of a gymnastics program at a university the better off our sport is going to be.  I hope this will be a springboard for other schools to add gymnastics. I am looking at this as a building process as something that will benefit the entire sport of gymnastics and those involved in it.  Going into club gyms is great exposure and once recruits come onto campus they really feel and understand the excitement and uniqueness of Lindenwood University and the opportunity that there is here.  After an offer is made, it really comes down to the type of person that I am recruiting for them to make a decision.  I look for girls that are inspired by challenges and who thrive in an environment where hard work and great team chemistry is the norm.  I pay close attention to the character of each girl. I try to fit them all together like puzzle pieces to ensure we have a phenomenal environment where we can have fun, grow together, and push each other on a daily basis."

What should draw gymnasts looking for a school to Lindenwood both academically and athletically? 
"Lindenwood University offers a first class education of a small private school with the amenities of a larger university.  Our class sizes do not exceed 35 students, with the average ratio being 17:1 yet we have 27 NCAA sports, excellent facilities, and 84 programs of study that are offered at the undergraduate level.  What’s different about us is that we are in a building phase rather than a maintenance phase.  Many schools are scaling back on programs and resources and we are actually on the other end of the spectrum.   There is an excitement here with all the growth and there is an expectation for greatness.  We are in an ideal location – 10 miles from an international airport, in a safe community yet close to a big city – there is always something going on and definitely something for everyone, and we reside in the middle of the country making team travel convenient!  The athletic department as a whole is on a mission for greatness and the gymnastics program is going to be a great addition to that quest for success.  Being a spectator sport located in the St. Louis metro area I believe we will have fantastic fans and support.  I expect the team to grow into a close knit family unit. We get to be the history makers; it’s going to be quite the ride!"

Lindenwood is still looking for 2 recruits for its first season, so if you're looking to become involved in college gymnastics and you think that Lindenwood could be a good fit for you, fill out their recruiting questionnaire!

Next stop on this feature, we'll be talking to many of the recruits on Lindenwood's Squad, as well as showing you the inside of their gymnastics facility.

1 comment:

  1. YAY! for the hometown! I'm excited for college gymnastics to come to the St Louis metro. There are a lot of great club gyms in the area that I'm sure will help build a huge fan base for Lindenwood's new team.