Monday, March 19, 2012
Lindenwood Lions - Meet Head Coach Gretchen Goerlitz
Gretchen Goerlitz competed on the club scene as a level 10 gymnast for 7 years with Oshkosh gymnastics and while she considered going elite, her parents wanted to "keep her a well rounded person" and so she stayed a JO gymnast. After graduating high school, Gretchen competed for Utah State for a year before transferring to the University of Denver, most famously the home of Olympian Jessica Lopez. She earned her degree in Cognitive Neuroscience.
"Coming from club, no way would I have wanted to coach," Goerlitz said. "It really was my experience at Denver that lead me into wanting to see if maybe this was something I wanted to do."
Inspired by her University of Denver coaches she went on to work as a graduate assistant and co-choreographer at Texas Women's and earned her Masters in Exercise Physiology before becoming the head coach at Centenary College.
In her first year at Centenary, the administration informed Gretchen that the gymnastics program would be cut the following year. Shocked, she developed a portfolio fighting to maintain the program and eventually won the hearts and minds of the athletic directors. After a turbulent two years, she made the move to develop Lindenwood's new program.
As I spoke with Gretchen about her aspirations for Lindenwood, her demeanor changed. You could see the passion in her eyes about these girls, about the program.
"I want to see what they're out doing in the world after this ... I want to watch them soar."
She went on to tell me about her coaching philosophy.
"What my philosophy is as a coach is to care about them as people before athletes," she told me. She didn't seem to refer to her athletes as "gymnasts" but as people and "girls". She spoke about their futures, their health and their goals.
She also, of course, seemed passionate about about the program's future as well.
"In the first 3 years I want to win USAG Collegiate Nationals and in the First 5 Years I want to be the first Division II team to qualify to NCAA Regionals."
"There's no ceiling. Anything that we do is going to be the first here."