Gymnastics coach to retire

Konner Hancock

Long-time gymnastics head coach Laurel Tindall announced retirement after 46 years of service at SPU.

Tindall said her career as the Falcons’ gymnastics head coach will come to a close at the end of this gymnastics season. She first filled the role of head coach in 1975 after competing as a gymnast with the Falcons for two years.

“Tindall has created and grown Seattle Pacific University Gymnastics into a national caliber program,” said the assistant coach, Sarah Jean Marshall. “It is impossible to put into words what she has given this program. She has given most of her life to this endeavor and is an incredibly hard worker. There is no one quite like Laurel.”

Throughout her years of coaching Tindall has won three national titles, a National Colligate Athletic Association Division II championship in 1986, then two more titles in 1992 and 1997.

Each national reigning gymnastics squad Tindall coached had unique and outstanding characteristics. During the 1986 NCAA Division II championship, SPU rallied from last place to first during the final event. She was recognized for that achievement by being voted the National Coach of the Year. The 1992 team marched through the entire season ranked No. 1 and Tindall again was voted National Coach of the Year. During the 1997 championship Tindall and her team attracted record crowds to Royal Brougham Pavilion to witness not only the winning of a national team title but two individual event championships.

When Tindall’s gymnastics teams were not able to reach No. 1, they tended to get close. She led many teams to top three or top five finishes. From 1984 to 2003, the Falcons had a run of 20 consecutive top four finishes at nationals.

“There is a lot to remember about my 46 years here, good and bad,” Tindall said. But one of the most important takeaways from her time here is that she has been “able to work with some really great athletes who are now my friends and I treasure their friendship and also been blessed to work with some great assistant coaches who were predominantly my past athletes. It is always great to see athletes choose to go into coaching and I hope that I have had some small part in them making that decision.”

Despite the retirement, the SPU gymnastics program is focusing on its future endeavors, said Tindall.

As the team moves forward, the question of who will become the next head coach looms. Tindall mentioned one of the reasons she announced her retirement now was because of “the feeling that the program was in a good place with the hope of Sarah Marshall being moved into the head coach position.”

Tindall advised the team’s next head coach, whomever it may be, to “work hard and be committed and invested in what you are doing.”

Marshall mentioned that the next head coach needs to “never forget the legacy built by decades of gymnasts and coaches who came before you. Honor that. Build on it. And commit to growing this program in new and exciting ways.”