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After a legendary 43-year career as head coach of the William & Mary men’s gymnastics program, Cliff Gauthier has announced his retirement, effective Jan. 1, 2017.
Assistant Coach Mike Powell will take over the head coaching duties while Gauthier will remain on staff as a volunteer assistant.
“The time has come to hand over the reins of the William & Mary men’s gymnastics program to our gifted assistant coach Mike Powell,” Gauthier said. “I envision a seamless transition that will enable me to have a very supportive presence within W&M athletics and men’s gymnastics while also enabling me to devote more time to the five living generations of my family. Mike’s brilliance and energy will keep men’s gymnastics at W&M evolving as a beacon of what intercollegiate athletics should be.”
While Gauthier’s accomplishments are many, perhaps his greatest lasting legacy will be the tremendous impact he has had on the lives of generations of Tribe gymnasts in countless ways.
“For the past 43 years, Cliff Gauthier’s men’s gymnastics program has pursued academic and athletic excellence with extraordinary success,” W&M Athletics Director Terry Driscoll said. “He has excelled as a teacher and a coach. Cliff’s legacy is a truly remarkable one that is unlikely to be duplicated. Beyond the considerable team and individual successes, his mentorship has led to unparalleled dedication from his alumni in maintaining a life-long connection to the program.”
One of the nation’s most respected head coaches during the past four and a half decades, Gauthier’s impressive résumé includes 856 career victories, 13 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Team championships, four Eastern College Athletic Conference titles and 15 College Gymnastics Association Collegiate Coach of the Year awards.
In addition to the team’s collective success, Tribe gymnasts have thrived individually under Gauthier’s tutelage and combined to earn 216 USA Gymnastics Collegiate All-America awards, more than any other university since the inception of the awards in 1990. Additionally, the program has produced two NCAA National Champions, two NCAA National Runners-Up, 10 NCAA All-America honors, seven Nissen-Emery Award Finalists and 43 USA Gymnastics Collegiate National Event Champions.
Equally, if not more, impressive than the program’s accomplishments in the gym is the tremendous success achieved by Tribe gymnasts in the classroom. Gauthier’s teams have combined to win a record eight College Gymnastics Association National Academic Team titles (1991, 1992, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016) and placed second on six occasions (1994, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2009, 2013). Additionally, W&M has finished third three times (1999, 2006, 2011). Highlighting the eight titles was the 2014 squad that posted the highest recorded grade point average (3.622) since the inception of the team award in 1991.
Tribe gymnasts also lead the nation with more individual All-America Scholar-Athlete honors than any other program in men’s gymnastics, as 49 W&M gymnasts have combined to earn 152 All-American Scholar-Athlete honors. Additionally, a pair of former standouts were honored as NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners.
A College Gymnastics Association Honor Coach Award recipient, Gauthier has also been recognized by W&M with some of the university’s most prestigious distinctions. In 2004, he garnered the Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching at W&M, and he was chosen as an honorary alumnus in 2014.
“I will always cherish the acknowledgements that I have received from William & Mary ranging from the Thomas Ashley Graves Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching to being designated for honorary alumni status,” Guathier said. “I also feel quite indebted to William & Mary for providing such fertile ground for learning and growth. I tried to take full advantage of that opportunity and hope that I had a part in encouraging all the extraordinary people that this incredible university attracted around me to do the same.”
Volunteer service has also been a hallmark of Gauthier’s program through the years, and Tribe gymnasts have significantly impacted the Williamsburg community in numerous ways. Recent projects have included volunteering with a local kids gymnastics program, conducting the Williamsburg awareness and fundraising walk for the National Eating Disorders Association and collecting food and goods for the annual canned food drive that has totaled more than 20,000 pounds of goods since 2007.
“The individual accomplishments in which so many of our gymnasts got the most out of their abilities often exceeding all legitimate expectations in their gymnastics and their academics while at W&M and then going on to great successes in life after graduation have been quite memorable,” he said. “As I look back on these team and individual accomplishments, I have always had many more victories than wins.”