CHAMPAIGN, Ill., April 22, 2009 – 2008 Olympic team bronze-medalist Justin Spring of Burke, Va., was named associate head coach of the University of Illinois’ men’s gymnastics team. Spring, who served as the men’s assistant coach for the last three years while competing as a member of the U.S. National Team, will retire from competitive gymnastics to focus on coaching.
Spring replaces Yoshi Hayasaki, who retired as head coach after the 2009 season. Illinois also announced the promotion of women’s gymnastics head coach Bob Starkell to director of gymnastics and men’s visiting assistant coach Ivan Ivankov to men’s assistant coach. Starkell will remain the women’s head coach and will now oversee the administrative side of the men’s program, while Spring will assume all coaching duties for the men’s team.
“I’m going to give up competing to coach the Illini,” Spring said. “It wasn’t much of a tough decision. I was pretty burned out after the Olympic Games. With all of my experiences as a gymnast and coach for the Illini, I’m looking forward to this opportunity. I will of course miss competing and being a part of it. But I’m also excited for the new opportunity and when it came about, I was more than happy to jump on it.”
Spring was a member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team for men’s gymnastics that won the team bronze medal, and he is a three-time U.S. champion (parallel bars in 2008 and horizontal bar in 2005 and 2007). Spring was a member of the 2005 World Championships Team and he won two medals, gold on parallel bars and bronze in the team competition, at the 2007 Pan American Games. He competed for Illinois from 2003-06, and earned four NCAA individual event titles, 12 All-American honors and the 2006 Nissen-Emery Award.
Spring and Ivankov were named the 2009 Central Region Assistant Coaches of the Year after helping Illinois to the Big Ten Championship, a fifth-place finish at the NCAA Championships and three individual NCAA titles this season.