Under the guidance of Husky head coach Bob Levesque, the Washington gymnastics program has become one of the most successful in the nation. NCAA appearances, All-Americans, NCAA competitors and top-20 finishes have become the norm under Levesque's tenure.
A highly-respected club coach in Oregon, Levesque accepted the challenge of heading up a college program in 1991. Over the past 13 seasons he has led the Huskies to NCAA Regional appearances every season while compiling a career record of 155-124-1.
Levesque has built the Husky program around local talent and national elite-level gymnasts. With the $40 million renovation of Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion, he now has a new practice facility and top-flight competition setting to further Washington's program.
The last seven years the Husky program has truly emerged on the national level. His teams have posted a combined 101-74-1 record, been nationally ranked, recorded victories against perennial West Coast powers UCLA and Oregon State, tied Utah, ranked in the top 20 in attendance and hosted a pair of NCAA Regional championships.
Levesque's efforts to revitalize the Husky gymnastics program have not gone unnoticed. In 1998 he became the first coach in the history of the Washington gymnastics program to lead the team to back-to-back NCAA Championship appearances. It was not Levesque's only repeat during the season. He was also honored as the Pac-10 and West Region coach of the year for the second consecutive season.
In 1998, Levesque guided the team to a 17-7 record and the program's first NCAA West Regional Championship. The Huskies finished the season ranked seventh in the nation and finished seventh at the NCAA Championships. Two Huskies, senior Klara Kudílková and junior Tiffany Simpson, earned All-America honors at the NCAAs. The 1998 NCAA appearance was the third by the team over a five-year stretch. Prior to that it had been seven years (1987) since the Huskies had appeared at the national championships.
A year earlier, Levesque took Washington to the NCAA Championships where the team placed eighth and four Husky gymnasts earned All-American honors in seven different categories. During the regular season the Huskies smashed their record book. Washington bettered its previous all-time score a total of 12 times during the year. It was appropriate that Levesque was recognized for his team's outstanding performances.
In nine of the 13 years he has been at Washington, Levesque has seen at least one of his gymnasts compete in the individual events at the NCAA Championships. He has a UW gymnast earn first-team All-America honors nine times.
Prior to taking the head coaching position at the UW, Levesque was the owner and director of the American Gymnastics Training Center in Eugene, Ore. He was named the Husky gymnastics coach on July 10, 1990.
Levesque, 54, a 1972 graduate of Fresno State University, had been associated with the American Gymnastics Training Center since 1985. In addition to coaching gymnasts from level eight through elite, he also handled event and meet scheduling and the hiring and training of staff members along with traveling with his athletes to national and international competitions.
Several Levesque-trained athletes have competed on the national and international level. Six of those were Olympians, including Tracee Talavera and Julianne McNamara from the United States. The others were Karen Kelsall (Canada, 1976 & 1980); Nancy Goldsmith (Israel, 1984); Tarella Javen (Finland, 1980) and Tatiana Fegieredo (Brazil, 1984).
He also coached Tanya Chaplin (formerly Tanya Service), currently the head coach at Oregon State, and Leslie Pyfer, two gymnasts who competed in the world championships for the United States. Five other gymnasts tutored by Levesque were members of national teams, including former UW national champion Yumi Mordre. More than 20 athletes groomed by Levesque have competed on the Division I college level.
Prior to joining the American Gymnastics Training Center, Levesque was a staff member at the National Academy of Artistic Gymnasts in Eugene from 1977 until 1985 where he worked with Class I and elite gymnasts. He began his coaching career at the Fresno Gymnastics Club in 1972 and was on the staff until leaving for Oregon in 1977.
Levesque has also been a guest lecturer and teacher at numerous clinics on the West Coast and in the Northwest. He has done work with the United States Gymnastics Federation and was elected in 1989 as the Program Chairman of the Regional Elite Committee, which represented the six-state Western Region. As chairman of that group, he helped organize regional workshops and disseminate information to the states in his region along with attending national meetings.
He currently serves on the women's program committee and is a former vice president of the National Academy of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches for Women.
Levesque and his wife, Kathy, reside in Bothell. He is an avid golfer who recorded his first hole-in-one during the summer of 1998.
All-Time UW Coaches
Coach Years Record Pct. Dale Shirley 1975-79 58-10 .853 Ed Zimmer 1980 15-9 .625 Bob Ito 1981-90 180-80 .692 Bob Levesque 1991-02 155-124-1 .555 Totals 29 years 409-224-1 .646