The Marsden era in collegiate gymnastics came to a close Monday as Megan Marsden announced she is retiring as Utah’s co-head coach.
Marsden has been a member of the Utah coaching staff since 1985 and has been the co-coach since 2010. For the past four years, she’s coached with Tom Farden following the retirement of her husband, Greg.
Marsden was a member of Utah’s gymnastics team beginning in 1981. Following her collegiate career, she joined Greg’s staff as an assistant. Greg retired in 2015 after 40 years of coaching with a record of 1,048-208-8 and 10 national championships.
She and Greg hired Farden in 2011 with the idea of transitioning the team to him. She felt this was the year to do so, and said she had made the decision to retire earlier in the season.
“We feel like we are leaving this program in good hands,” Marsden said. “Tom has been a head coach before and he knows how to handle the head coaching duties in every aspect of the sport.”
Previously, Farden’s main responsibilities were overseeing the uneven bars and tumbling in addition to recruiting. His role expanded this year when he took a more assertive role in the balance beam coaching when the Utes were struggling.
Farden joked when he first came to Utah the plan was to stay just one or two years and “steal everything and move on.”
He has since gone from renting to owning a house and from being an assistant to being in charge of one of college gymnastics most respected programs.
“Greg and [former athletic director] Chris Hill made it hard for me to leave,” he said. “Only an idiot follows a legend’s job, but I was lucky to take what Greg did in his role and have Megan continue to do what she did. I had the nuts and bolts of coaching down, but I never had to figure out how to get 15,000 people in the stands before so I was mentored by Greg.”
Farden said filling Megan’s role on his coaching staff will be difficult.
“It’s a huge loss for Utah,” he said. "She spent her entire life with Utah gymnastics and what she has meant to the program can’t be summed up in words.”
The Utes are coming off a disappointing seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championships and face a major rebuilding year in 2020.
“I’m going to have to surround myself with people who can cover my weaknesses,” Farden said.
Marsden’s announcement, while not a total surprise, was still met with emotions from former gymnasts.
Missy Marlowe, who competed for the Utes from 1989 to 1992, said the Utes were “losing one of the best there has ever been.”
“Megan Marsden was my childhood hero and the gymnast I wanted to be,” she said. “I watched her win two all-around titles and four team titles and never wanted to go anywhere but Utah because of her. Having her as a coach was an honor.”
Marsden will continue to have some involvement with Utah athletics as an ambassador. She said many of the aspects of coaching that she enjoyed recently had to do with personal development, nutritional education, fundraising and community outreach, things she can continue to do for the program.
“I was very lucky the last few years to be able to focus on those things,” she said.
Greg Marsden has remained distant from the program, taking up other interests such as hiking and preferring to leave the Utes in the hands of Farden and his wife. Megan said she was looking forward to joining him in some non-gymnastics activities, but said the two are never really far from the sport.
“I am sure we will still have a lot of discussions around the kitchen table,” she said.
Marsden informed the team during their final team meeting Monday.
“This was part of the plan from the start, to stay with the program three to five years and help Tom transition,” Marsden said. “It is still an emotional time, we have spent a lifetime in this sport.”