By Cate Grider
As Greg Marsden approached the 2014-15 season at the University of Utah, he knew one thing was for certain: this would be his last year. Although it was only just announced that he would step down as the head coach of women’s gymnastics, Marsden started the transition long ago.
“We planned the transition at the beginning of the season and everyone was on board from the beginning. The university always left the door open for me in case I changed my mind during the season, but I knew this was my last season, and there was no looking back,” Marsden said.
Working 40 years at one place is an achievement itself, but Marsden has dominated his field over the 40 years. That, he says, was just icing on the cake.
Marsden is leaving gymnastics as the winningest gymnastics coach in NCAA history with a 1,048-208-8 record, a second-place finish at the NCAAs in 2015 and record-breaking attendance numbers. His teams never missed the national championship.
As the demands of the job began to grow, Marsden began to wonder when it might be time to leave the job he loved so much and if he would know when it was “time.”
“Over the last couple of years, age has caught up with me, like it does anyone else, and I could feel my own energy beginning to ebb and flow,” he said.
Like any successful collegiate coach, Marsden explained it wasn’t just about the coaching. His job also entailed keeping up with recruiting, traveling, marketing the sport to achieve high attendance and, of course, winning. Though Marsden is clear: winning was secondary.
“It was always about the athletes and making sure they were learning life lessons, as well as lessons on the mat,” he said.
As for the biggest reason for his success, Marsden attributes it to his gymnasts, along with his insatiable love for the sport.
“My coaching career was unbelievably magnificent,” Marsden said. “I was equally rewarded when my athletes graduated with high marks and went on to be something great in life as when they won matches.”
But the question still lingered for Marsden, would he know when to say goodbye to his coaching career?
“I always wondered if I would know when the right time would be to retire and I did,” Marsden explained. “I have no idea [what I’ll do now]. I have no hobbies like fishing or golfing because coaching was my hobby.”
Marsden admits it is scary to begin a new life after 40 years of coaching at the University of Utah.
“It hasn’t hit me yet but when it does I’ll figure it out then,” he asserted.
For now, he plans to do some much needed traveling, for pleasure, with his wife Megan, before the demands of the seasons come calling for her.
The winningest gymnastics coach of all time says he is ready to step down and let his wife and co-head coach Megan and assistant coach Tom Farden take it from here and share the spotlight he has dominated for the last four decades.
“I am thrilled for Megan and will in no way cast a shadow when she begins to build her own legacy,” Marsden said.
Marsden didn’t just enjoy his day job, he “loved it.”
He hopes his legacy doesn’t only reside in the scorebooks but also in the lives of each and every one of his athletes. That’s where he believes the true wins are.
“This was my passion. My life. I couldn’t wait to get to work everyday,” Marsden said.