La Crosse, Wis. – University of Wisconsin-La Crosse head gymnastics coach Barbara Gibson has announced her retirement effective August 12. UWL Director of Athletics Kim Blum has named head assistant coach Kasey Crawford as the Eagles’ interim head coach for the 2016-17 season.
“After 38 memorable years of teaching and coaching, including 31 incredible years at UWL, I have decided it is time for me to move on and retire,” said Gibson. “I have been so blessed to have the unconditional support and love of my husband Mark and our three children, Kelli, Kyle and Katherine throughout my coaching career. They have been amazing fans of UWL and especially UWL gymnastics. I’m looking forward to more leisure time with family, grandchildren, friends and volunteer opportunities.“
Completing her 31st season (1986-2016) as head coach in 2015-16, Gibson led UWL to its second straight National Collegiate Gymnastics Association (NCGA) Championship March 18 in Brockport, New York. The Eagles earned the team title with a school record score of 193.650. Gibson led UWL to all 17 of its NCGA titles in school history, including 12 in the last 16 seasons. The 17 national titles are the most in NCGA history. She has been named the NCGA Coach of the Year six times in her career (1989, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2010, 2015).
Gibson led UWL to the 2016 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title March 4 in Mitchell Hall, the Eagles’ league-record 23 championship in school history. It was UWL’s 18th conference title in the last 23 seasons. Gibson led the Eagles to 20 WIAC titles in her 31 seasons as head coach.
“I must thank Bill Vickroy and Keith French for hiring me and to Mary Mc Lellan, Bridget Belgiovine, Doug Hastad, Paul Plinske, Paula Knudson and Kim Blum for their continued support and encouragement of UWL gymnastics throughout my coaching career,” said Gibson. “I’m thankful for the support I have received from both my teaching and athletic colleagues, the athletic department, the numerous assistant coaches and of course, the La Crosse Community, especially the Quillin, Skogen, Weber and Zietlow families.”
“Barb’s passion, guidance, expertise, and love for her student-athletes are evident in everything she does,” said Blum. “The devotion Barb has for the sport of gymnastics and for her gymnasts, has resulted in the tightest knit group of alumni I have ever witnessed in sport, a true testament to the impact she has had on her student-athletes over the last 31 years.”
Selected the WIAC Women’s Gymnastics All-Time Coach in 2012 in conjunction with the conference’s Centennial Celebration, Gibson was named the WIAC Coach of the Year six times (1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1997, 2004). UWL had eight of the 17 gymnasts named to the WIAC All-Time Team.
She finished her career with a record of 806-205 (.797) in 34 seasons as a collegiate head coach, including 774-201 (.794) at UWL. Prior to coaching at UWL, Gibson coached at Sauk Prairie (Wis.) High School, Southern Illinois University (graduate assistant), Southern Arkansas University and Butler Gymnastics Club (Pa.).
Among her team’s accomplishments at UWL, Gibson had 16 WIAC Scholar-Athletes, eight College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) Academic All-Americans®, 70 NCGA Academic All-America selections and 209 athletic All-America honors. UWL had 32 NCGA and 78 WIAC individual champions under Gibson.
“I have been so fortunate to work with so many motivated, determined, smart and dedicated young women who have blessed the UWL gymnastics program, and the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse,” added Gibson. “Their presence and efforts in the classroom and in the gym have left a legacy of excellence and achievement that embodies what a true student-athlete is meant to be. I will miss my daily interaction with this group the most. The student-athletes I’ve coached are and always will be a part of my second family.”
Gibson has been active in the governance of gymnastics at the conference and national levels, serving as WIAC Chair, NCGA Vice-President of the West Region and a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division III representative.
She received a bachelor’s degree in physical and health education from UWL in 1978, and earned a master’s degree from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in 1981.
Gibson was inducted into the UWL Wall of Fame in 2007 and to the La Crosse Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2010. She was recognized with the YMCA’s Outstanding Achievement Award in Sports in 1989. To celebrate her dedication to the sport of gymnastics and UWL, the Barbara Gibson Endowment Fund for UWL Gymnastics was established in her honor during the 2009-10 season.
She and her husband, Mark, have three children, Kelli (Joe Korneta), Kyle (Katie) and Katherine and three grandchildren, Livia, Owen and Caden.
“Many people, including myself, have never known another head coach for UWL gymnastics,” said Blum. “Although her retirement saddens me, I’m excited for Barb in this new chapter of her life and I feel confident in putting the program in Kasey’s hands.”
Crawford completed her eighth year as an Eagles’ assistant coach in 2015-16, earning the NCGA West Region Assistant Coach of the Year award after helping lead UWL to its second straight national title March 18. She was named the 2011-12 and 2012-13 NCGA North Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year as UWL placed third at the 2012 NCGA Championships and second in 2013.
Crawford was a four-year letter winner and two-year team captain at UWL, competing from 2004-08. A member of three NCGA Championship teams (2005, 2006, 2008), Crawford earned five career NCGA All-America honors. She earned All-America accolades in the all-around (2005), uneven parallel bars (2005 and 2008); vault (2005) and balance beam (2008).
“Kasey will do an amazing job carrying on the successful tradition of UWL gymnastics excellence,” said Gibson. “She has the ability to bring out the best in each of the student-athletes and is well prepared and ready to lead the gymnastics program.”
“I’m so honored to have this opportunity,” said Crawford. “Barbara has been an incredible leader of this program for so many years. She has shaped me into the person and coach I am today, and has similarly impacted hundreds of UWL gymnastics alums. I’m thrilled to be able to carry her legacy forward and give back to the gymnastics program.”
Named the 2007-08 WIAC Scholar-Athlete, Crawford earned three career all-conference honors. She placed fourth on the vault at the 2005 WIAC Championship while finishing fifth on the uneven parallel bars in 2007 and sixth in 2008. She was a two-time WIAC Athlete of the Week selection. Crawford was named to the WIAC Scholastic Honor Roll all four years and was a 2007-08 CoSIDA Academic All-District Second Team selection.
In Crawford’s eight years as an assistant coach, UWL has won five NCGA championships and four WIAC crowns. UWL gymnasts have earned a total of 67 NCGA All-America honors in the last eight seasons.
“Barbara not only built a dynasty of champions, but a dynasty of class, love, and family,” added Crawford. “I can’t wait to share and build upon this with our new generations of UWL gymnasts. This year’s upcoming team is filled with outstanding character and talent, so the future is very bright.”
Crawford completed her fourth year as an assistant sports performance coach in UWL’s Sports Performance Center and as an instructor in UWL’s Exercise Sport Science Department in 2015-16 and her fourth year. Crawford is a certified USAG (USA Gymnastics) Level 10 judge.
She and her husband, Mike, have two children, Kinsley and Keaton.
“UWL and our gymnastics family means so much to me,” said Crawford. “I had the best times of my life here as a student-athlete, and I am so grateful to continue living and working in the greatest city and university in the country.”
Release Courtesy of the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse Athletics Media Relations Department