Gymnastics names Spring as assistant coach

Ashlee Woods | @ashleemwoods, Contributing Columnist

On Tuesday, Alabama gymnastics announced that Justin Spring will join the staff as an assistant coach. The Olympic bronze medalist and NCAA champion comes to Tuscaloosa after almost two decades in Champaign, Illinois.  

“I have known Justin since our days on the U.S. National team, and I am beyond excited to add his experience, enthusiasm and spirit to our program,” head coach Ashley Priess-Johnston said. “As an Olympian and an NCAA champion as both a gymnast and a coach, he knows exactly what it takes to excel at the highest level in this sport and he has demonstrated time and again that he can share his knowledge and experience in a way that benefits his student-athletes the most.” 

Spring joins the staff after his 12th season as the head coach of the Illinois men’s gymnastics team. Spring spent a total of 16 seasons with Illinois. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2012 — the youngest coach in NCAA history to do so. He led Illinois to 11 top-six finishes at the NCAA Championships and four Big Ten titles with the most recent coming in 2018.

“I’m so excited to take on this incredible opportunity at one of the best gymnastics programs in the country,” Spring said. “Ashley has put together a cohesive staff that is committed to developing student-athletes in and outside the gym. I look forward to creating a life changing experience for these young women and bringing home SEC and NCAA championships.” 

In 12 seasons as the head coach of the Fighting Illini, Spring guided 11 gymnasts to individual NCAA titles. He helped three gymnasts to become NCAA champions in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Illini racked up 79 All-America honors in Spring’s tenure as head coach. Spring was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2018. He was the Central Region Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2010 and Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009.