Guard Young has coached BYU’s gymnastics team since 2015, but he jokes is feels like he is heading into just his first year as a coach.
“Those first four years felt like schooling,” he said. “I had a lot of on the job training and now I’m starting.”
Young spent his first years building up the Cougars into a consistently strong program. The 2019 season ended with a lot of promise as the Cougars finished ranked No. 21 and Young named as the Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference coach of the Year while Shannon Evans was named the conference’s gymnast of the year.
The Cougars also earned their highest score ever in a season opener, notching a 196.475 against Utah and earned a 197 for the first time since 2004.
BYU AT A GLANCE
Preseason ranking: No. 23
Season opener: Jan. 6 vs. Nebraska
Meet to watch: Jan. 18 vs. No. 4 UCLA and Utah State
Key returning gymnast: Shannon Evans, the Mountain Rim Gymnast of the Year in 2019
Team strength: Floor since the Cougars boast their returning performers on the event from 2019
Key newcomer: Maya Page, a 2015 JO National NIT vault champion
Young hopes the Cougars can continue its upward trajectory with a team laden with experience and also sheer numbers. The Cougars have 25 gymnasts on the roster, which is almost double what many teams have. Young believes the numbers are necessary as he continues to build the team the way he wants. He also favors the trend of having gymnasts who might excel on just one or two events rather than depend on all-around gymnasts.
“My philosophy has always been if you can’t go out and get the good quarterbacks, then get the good running backs, receivers and kickers and fill out the roster that way,” he said. “I feel like the trend is going to larger teams and we are ahead of the curve on that.”
That being said, Young still has a few gymnasts in which he will depend, starting with Evans, who is the most experienced of the three seniors on the roster. Sisters Abbey and Sadie Miner are expected to contribute in several events as is junior Abby Boden Stainton.
Floor is expected to be the Cougars’ strength since they return all the gymnasts from the 2019 lineup. Vault is the biggest question mark with Young waiting to see how the team responds from training in the foam pits to the hard surfaces.
“That’s a big jump,” he said. “We are using a different kind of training strategy,” going slower that we have, but hopefully it will pay off.”
All in all, Young has big hopes for his team.
“Making it to nationals is our No. 1 goal,” he said. “Being in the Mountain Rim with Boise State, SUU and Utah State, we at least want to challenge for that title and we think it’s up there for grabs. We have a great returning class.”