Making his third major coaching hire this offseason, Florida Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley has tabbed Jenny Rowland as the program’s new gymnastics coach.
Rowland – a former All-American gymnast and member of the U.S. Women’s National Team (1985-90) who was named the 2015 NCAA co-Assistant Coach of the Year – has spent five seasons with Auburn, serving as the program’s associate head coach over the last two campaigns.
“When we started this search, there was one name that kept coming up – Jenny Rowland. What Auburn has done over the past few seasons is quite impressive and she’s played a big role in the Tigers’ progress. We feel confident she’s ready to guide the Gator program,” Foley said.
“She wants Gator gymnasts to thrive in all aspects of their student-athletic career – in the classroom, in the competitive arena and in developing the life skills to be successful following college. She knows what is like to be a competitor on the national, international and collegiate stages. She has what it takes to be a successful recruiter as she’s built relationships with so many in the gymnastics world.”
With Rowland’s help, the Tigers in 2015 advanced to the Super Six of the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 22 seasons. According to the school, the 2015 Auburn team “broke or tied 52 program records” over the course of the campaign.
Prior to her time with the Tigers, Rowland served as an assistant at Oklahoma (2001-06). She has also spent a large portion of her career working as a gymnastics judge. Rowland has judged the USA Championships eight times, the U.S. Olympic Trials twice (2008, 2012) and also holds a Level 3 International Brevet rank, which allows her to judge gymnastics across the globe.
Rowland, 40, has big shoes to fill as the replacement for Rhonda Faehn, who spent 12 years leading the Gators program and captained Florida to three straight NCAA Championships from 2013-15. Faehn left the program days after the most recent title win in order to take a vice president position with USA Gymnastics.
“I’m so excited for this opportunity to become the Gator gymnastics head coach. Obviously, Rhonda has built Gator gymnastics into a model program. A key focus for me will be developing relationships with the current and past Gators, as well as building a connection with the gymnasts who will represent the Gators in the future,” said Rowland.
“Jeremy Foley, Lynda Tealer and I all share a vision of continued success for Gator gymnastics. I look forward to working with this tremendous group of Gators and being a part of the Florida program.”
Faehn, who took over Florida gymnastics in 2003, brought the Gators to 10 NCAA Super Six finals in 13 seasons (2004, 2006-10, 2012-15). UF under Faehn was on the precipice of a NCAA national title for nearly a decade before winning its first in 2013 – and two more in the years that followed.
In addition to her substantial national success, Faehn led Florida to four SEC Championships (2007, 2010, 2012-13) and earned six SEC Coach of the Year honors (2006-07, 2010-13) in 13 seasons … all in the toughest conference in the country.
Beloved by her athletes and fans alike, Faehn was the greatest gymnastics coach in Gators history and left the program at an all-time high. Joining her out the door was senior all-around Kytra Hunter, one of the best gymnasts in program history.
Florida, however, will return some incredible gymnasts – led by senior AA Bridget Sloan – as it looks to win its fourth consecutive national title in 2016.