UCLA hires Janelle McDonald as their new gymnastics coach

When UCLA fell from the top of the Pac-12 gymnastics rankings in recent years, California moved to fill the void. During the past two years that the Bruins have failed to advance to the NCAA Championships, the Golden Bears have put together their best season in school history despite a pandemic-stricken training program in 2021 and won their first Pac title. -12, sharing the regular season crowns in 2022.

Needing a fresh start, the Bruins have turned to their rivals in the state for their next leader.

UCLA hired California assistant coach Janelle McDonald to take over its gymnastics program on Monday, hoping that a new entry can help one of the school’s most famous teams regain its league glory.

The previous coaching staff, led by Chris Waller, only lasted three seasons after Waller abruptly resigned at the end of the 2022 season.

While Waller’s extensive resume included NCAA championships as a competitor on the UCLA men’s gymnastics team and an appearance at the all-round Olympic final in 1992 before becoming the best assistant under former UCLA manager Valorie Kondos Field, McDonald did not compete collegially. He attended Arizona State, where he did an internship with the gymnastics program in 2010.

However, she is a seasoned club trainer, working at top gyms including Desert Lights in Arizona – which produced Olympians Jade Carey and MyKayla Skinner – and Texas powerhouse WOGA.

McDonald joined Cal’s staff in 2018, specializing in bars. In 2021, she was named WCGA Region 6 Assistant Coach of the Year when the Bears made their fourth NCAA championship appearance setting program records on bars, beam and floor and in the team’s overall scoring. McDonald’s coached the best bar team in the country, led by NCAA individual champion Maya Bordas. Cal drew an NCAA record of 17 years in bars with a score of 49,825 in a match against UCLA.

Cal nearly finished her women’s gymnastics program in 2010 due to budget cuts, but now the Bears are one of Pac-12’s best teams under co-coaches Justin Howell and Elisabeth Crandall Howell. The show has attracted former elite stars such as Andi Li, whose older sister Anna once starred at UCLA, and incoming freshman eMjae Frazier, who competed in the world championships for the United States in 2021. the younger sister of former UCLA star Margzetta Frazier.

Margzetta Frazier, who broke her foot in the opening match of the season this year, has openly called for a change of coach in an appearance on actress Amanda Seales’ podcast during the season amid controversy over how Waller and his staff handled a pre-season incident in which a former gymnast uses racist language. Tension between gymnasts and coaches remained throughout the season as the Bruins missed the NCAA Championship reduced by 0.025 points in the NCAA Regional Final. It was the first time in the history of the program that UCLA had not competed as a team at the national match in consecutive years.