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Headed to London

3 former AHS gymnasts earn spots as Olympic coaches

July 10, 2012
BY ERIC BENAC - News Sports Writer ( , The Alpena News

The 2012 Summer Olympics will be filled with the typical pomp and circumstance that surrounds all Olympics. London will become the first city to host the modern Olympics three times and entire cities are celebrating even sending one person to compete in London.

This year's Games also will have a bit of local flair.

Three Alpena High School alums have been chosen as gymnastics coaches for this year's Olympics. Kurt Golder will coaching the University of Michigan's Sam Mikulak, while John and Kathryn Geddert will coach Jordyn Wieber, a native of DeWitt.

Article Photos

Courtesy Photo
Pictured from left to right: Kurt Golder, Kathryn Geddert, John Geddert at the Olympic Trials. They will be attending this year's summer Olympics as coaches for the US team along with gymnasts Jordyn Wieber and Sam Mikulak. All three were raised in Alpena and competed in high school gymnastics.

"It feels pretty great," Golder, the men's gymnastics coach at U-M, said of heading to the Olympics.

All three coaches competed for the Wildcats in the 1970s. Jack Discher coached both Golder and John from grades 7-12 and Kathryn competed in women's gymnastics.

Now as coaches, they'll have the chance to help their athletes try and win medals in London.

Fact Box

"It's absolutely wonderful. John and Kurt have helped to bring a lot of pride to Alpena."

- Jack Discher, former Alpena gymnastics coach

Mikulak, a California native and U-M's first Olympian, suffered from a sprained ankle during the Olympic trials that forced him to sit out several trial events. His performance had been so overwhelming in previous days that he was still selected in spite of only competing in one event.

Golder coached Mikulak the last two years and in 2011 Mikulak became the first freshman to win the NCAA all around championship. Golder said Mikulak is in good hands.

"Sam's father is an orthopedic surgeon and he's double lucky," Golder said, because both of Mikulak's parents are former gymnasts. "They understand the injury all too well and this will help speed his recovery greatly."

John and his wife Kathryn opened up a gymnastics training center in 1996 called Twistars, where they have coached Wieber since she was four years old. Wieber has steadily built her career as she's grown older. In 2011, she was the all-around world champion, the U.S. Senior national champion and the American Cup champion. This year was an even bigger year, as she won the AT&T American Cup, a second U.S. Senior National Championship and a spot on America's Olympic team.

John is very proud of the progress he and his wife have made with Wieber.

"Any time you get an Olympian, it's a highlight," he said. "Especially when its one of your kids that you've had for their whole life."

Kathryn said Wieber is continuing to train in the final weeks before her flight to London.

"She's doing really good," Kathryn said. "She's done a little tweaking on the beam and learned some new routines. Her training has helped to build her confidence on the beam and with these new routines."

Alpena has a rich tradition in gymnastics, which began in 1967, when Alpena hired Discher as its head coach. Over the next 10 years, Discher and assistant coach Ray Timm built a reputation for excellence for the Wildcats.

"As in any sport with subjective scoring, reputation matters," Discher said. "A good team with a strong reputation comes into the competition already with a few points."

Golder and the Gedderts graduated before Alpena won a state championship in 1977, however, they weren't done with gymnastics. Golder served as Discher's assistant coach while attending Alpena Community College. This served as the beginning of his coaching career, which led him to become the U-M gymnastics coach, a position he's held for 17 years. John coached at Mount Pleasant High School before opening Twistars.

Disher is proud to see his former athletes reach such a high level of competition.

"It's absolutely wonderful," Disher said. "John and Kurt have helped to bring a lot of pride to Alpena," he said.



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