Alpena native named Big Ten Coach of the Year

Kurt Golder

ALPENA –Alpena Native and University of Michigan gymnastics coach Kurt Golder has earned unanimous Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

The Big Ten Conference announced the 2020 Big Ten Men’s Gymnastics individual award winners on Thursday, as voted upon by the conference coaches. Minnesota’s Shane Wiskus took home Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the third straight year, while Michigan’s Paul Juda was awarded Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Golder, the Wolverine head coach, claimed unanimous Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.

Golder was named the unanimous Big Ten Coach of the Year by his peers after the Wolverines finished the season 11-1-0 (3-1-0, Big Ten) to lead the conference. Golder helped five Wolverines earn CGA All-American honors. The award marks his fifth career Big Ten Coach of the Year honor (1999, 2000, 2013, 2014).

Golder enters his 24th season as the head coach for the men’s gymnastics team at the University of Michigan. He is only the fourth coach in the program’s 80-year history, following Wilbur West, the legendary Newt Loken and Bob Darden. A native of Alpena, Golder has led the Wolverines to high levels of success over the last five years, including back-to-back NCAA and Big Ten Championships in 2013 and 2014, as well as NCAA and Big Ten titles in 1999. In addition to his smashing success during the past three seasons, Golder has coached 105 NCAA All-Americans and 13 NCAA individual national champions, and has won four of U-M’s six national titles (1963, ’70, ’99, 2010, ’13, ’14).

In 2019, Golder led U-M back to national relevance, taking fourth-place at NCAA’s and captured a share of the first-ever Big Ten Regular Season Championship. With 11 Academic All-Big Ten members, four NCAA All-American’s and an NCAA Champship from Anthony McCallum on vault and a Big Ten title from Jacob Moore on floor-exericse, the campaign was chock full of superlatives.

The 2018 season saw the addition of freshman All-American Cameron Bock, who helped guide the Wolverines to a second-place finish at Big Ten’s inside U-M’s Crisler Center.

In 2015, Golder brought home three NCAA All-America citations, as the Wolverines took fourth at the NCAA Championships and boasted one Big Ten Champion (Nick Hunter, parallel bars).

The previous two seasons marked the most successful years in U-M gymnastics history as they featured two NCAA and Big Ten Titles, as well as a pair of CGA National Coach of the Year honors and Big Ten Coach of the Year accolades. Over that span, he guided 20 All-America citations at the NCAA meet, earned five NCAA Individual titles, five Big Ten champions, and the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year in Sam Mikulak in 2013-14.

At the 2014 NCAA’s, U-M became the first program to win back-to-back national championships in 44 years. The Wolverines scored 445.050 to win the meet. The title is the fourth under Kurt Golder (1999, 2010, 2013), who is now tied with swimming coach Gus Stager for the third-most NCAA titles by a coach in school history. He trails only Matt Mann (13) and football coach Fielding Yost (six), and the back-to-back NCAA titles are the first for any U-M sport since 1969-70, as trampoline won in 1969-70, and men’s swimming and diving also accomplished the feat in 1958-59. Overall, U-M earned a 27-2 overall record on the season, while.The margin of victory of 443.200-440.100 over second-place Oklahoma at NCAA’s was the largest victory margin in 29 years.

At Big Ten’s the team won its first non-shared conference championship since 2000 with a team score of 438.900, which was over four points better than second-place finisher Penn State (434.050), and was the fourth of Coach Golder’s career. Mikulak, who won the all-around competition, gives U-M event winners in four of the last five years, (Thomas Kelley 2009, Chris Cameron 2010, Mikulak 2011), and became the second Wolverine to win a pair of all-around titles in his career. Additionally, U-M placed three gymnasts in the top-three in six events while winning floor (Ervin), parallel bars (Caesar) and high bar (Mikulak). The trio, along with de los Angeles, took home First Team All-Big Ten honors, while Mikulak was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the second time in his career, and Kurt Golder took home his second Big Ten coach of the year honor.

The success began in the summer of 2012, as he served as the primary coach for the first American Olympian in program history in Mikulak, who took fifth in the world on vault at the 2012 Olympic Games. Golder served as the primary coach for one of the most popular athletes in London, and was honored with the title of assistant coach for Team USA as a result.

In 2012, Golder guided the Wolverines to a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships after winning session one at the NCAA Qualifier round with a season-high score of 353.450 to advance to the Super Six. In addition, he earned his 25th NCAA champion, as Sam Mikulak won the NCAA high bar championship with a 15.45. Additionally, Golder aided in guiding Mikulak to All-America honors on parallel bars, high bar, and all-around competition, while freshman Stacey Ervin earned accolades on floor exercise (third) and vault (fourth). The Wolverines took second at the Big Ten Championships behind Illinois, marking the fourth straight season the Wolverines have collected a runner-up finish. Individually, Mikulak, the United States Senior National Team member, became the first Wolverine gymnast to win a pair of Big Ten titles (parallel bars, high bar) since Scott Vetere in 2000. Freshman Adrian de los Angeles also earned First-Team All-Big Ten accolades after placing fifth in the all-around competition.

The 2011 season saw Golder lead the Wolverines to a fifth-place finish at NCAA Championships and a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships. Freshman Sam Mikulak took the All-Around title at NCAA’s and Big Ten’s and was named Big Ten Freshman and Gymnast of the Year. Additionally, senior Ian Makowske (high bar) and Syque Caesar (parallel bars) won individual event titles at Big Ten’s.

After taking over a team that went 0-16 and finished last at the Big Ten Championships in 1996, Golder quickly developed and recruited the Wolverines into national prominence. The goals of his program are to consistently be in contention for the Big Ten and NCAA team titles, as well as to produce U.S. National Team members and Olympians.

Golder has continued to turn out leading teams in the Big Ten conference producing five Big Ten team titles and 31 individual titles. Golder was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1999, 2000, 2013 and 2014, as well as being named the NCAA regional and national coach of the year in 1999, 2010, 2013 and 2014. Golder also mentored the 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014 Big Ten all-around champions and Big Ten Gymnasts of the Year; Scott Vetere, Justin Laury, Thomas Kelley, Chris Cameron, and Sam Mikulak (three times) respectively.

Golder stresses the importance of community service while maintaining a high GPA to his student athletes, and the team has been recognized for such efforts. In 2010 the team had the highest team-GPA out of all men’s gymnastics teams in the NCAA. In 2005-06, the squad earned the Rachael Townsend Community Service Award, and in 2007-08 and 2008-09, it received an accolade for having the highest GPA of any U-M male athletic team. Also during 2010 season, Golder produced ten student-athletes earning College Gymnastics Association academic All-America honors.

After graduating from Michigan in 1977 with his Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Education, Golder began his teaching and coaching career at Ann Arbor Huron High School where he taught and coached from 1976-79. Golder led the River Rats to claim the 1979 state championship. He returned to the Big Ten in 1979 as an assistant coach at Michigan State University, a position he held until 1984. From 1984-91, he was the boys’ program director and head coach of Genesee Valley Gymnastics in Flint, Mich., one of the nation’s most successful boys’ gymnastics clubs. During his duration at GVG, Golder was also a member of the Junior National coaching staff for USA Gymnastics.

In 1991, Golder joined the University of Iowa staff as an assistant coach. He was with the Hawkeye program until his appointment as the Wolverine head coach in July of 1996. International coaching appointments have taken Golder to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Israel, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Thailand and South Korea. He served as coach for the U.S. team at the 1995 World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan; the 1997 World University Games in Sicily; the 2003 World University Games team in Daegu, South Korea; and the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. He also coached the 1999 Chunichi Cup team in Nagoya, Japan, and the 2001 Pan-Am Championship team in Cancun, Mexico. He served as a personal coach to former Wolverine gymnast Daniel Diaz-Luong at the 2001 World Championships in Ghent, Belgium.

Golder was a three-time letterwinner in gymnastics (1975-77) and a member of Michigan’s 1975 Big Ten championship team. In 2008, Golder was inducted into the Alpena High School Alumni Hall of Fame and was inducted into the Alpena Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Golder has a 26-year old daughter, Roberta, who is a graduate of U-M.


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