MOUNT PLEASANT - John Geddert has arrived at the ultimate destination on the journey of any gymnastics coach, from humble beginnings at Central Michigan.
In 140 characters or less, Geddert announced “with pride and honor” on July 17 via Twitter that he had been named the head coach of the USA women’s Olympic gymnastics team.
Two weeks later, in London, England, he watched with pride and honor on Tuesday as his USA Women’s National Team claimed the Olympic gold medal in the team all-around final for the first time since 1996. The historic Olympic achievement comes a year after coaching Jordyn Wieber to an all-around world championship as the National Team head coach.
Geddert’s path, which has led him to the pinnacle of the gymnastics coaching hierarchy and the awards podium at North Greenwich Arena on the banks of the River Thames, began in a city built along a river of slightly less international fame: Mount Pleasant.
Long before his days as an Olympic coach or a national team coach, Geddert was an aspiring gymnast on an athletics scholarship at Central Michigan University. After graduating with honors from Alpena High School in 1976, Geddert enrolled at CMU and became a three-time letterwinner, whose forte event was the horizontal bar.
“He was a very talented high school athlete, and had great promise here at the university,” current CMU women’s gymnastics head coach Jerry Reighard said. Reighard served as a graduate assistant with the men’s program during part of Geddert’s Central Michigan career. “I was only here for a short time in his training, but he was a very diligent worker and had high aspirations, and he was a great student-athlete to coach.”
His competitive career reached a high during the 1978-79 season, when he recorded the team’s top horizontal bar score of 8.15 the week prior to the Great Lakes League Championships, annually the Chippewas’ toughest meet of the season. He qualified for the prestigious finals at the League Championships with a score of 7.85, but was forced to withdraw because of injury.
Geddert did not find a way match his top score during his senior 1979-80 season, but what he did find was a passion for coaching that ultimately set him on course for his future achievements. He began coaching the Mount Pleasant High School gymnastics team, and a year later he was off to the nationally prominent MarVaTeens gymnastics club in Maryland to coach under then-USA coach Gary Anderson.
“John’s coaching is a testament to our program that we can produce great coaches and student-athletes, and this program has a very long list of successful individuals in the coaching world,” Reighard said. “His success speaks a lot about John’s character. When he was done with his own competitive career, he was able to refocus on a great coaching career.”
Four years later he spearheaded the 12-year surge to prominence of Lansing’s Great Lakes Gymnastics Club, and in 1996 he and his wife founded their own club, Gedderts’ Twistars USA Gymnastics Club, which has also grown to national acclaim. His wife, Kathryn, was also a scholarship gymnast at Central Michigan.
During his time at his Michigan clubs, he coached 112 teams to state championship team titles, and compiled a 1998-58 record in state championship competition. Gedderts’ Twistars USA produced more national qualifiers, national medalists and national team members than any other club in America from 2001-2002 and 2004.
One of the athletes under his tutelage, Katie Teft, eventually became an NCAA National Championship qualifier and All-Mid-American Conference uneven bars champion for Central Michigan in 2003. Seven years earlier, a 14-year-old Teft earned a spot on the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as an alternate.
Geddert has coached for the United States at international competition in more than 15 countries. In total, he has coached more than 40 national champions at the Junior Olympic and Elite levels, and more than 20 USA National Team members.
Most recently, he helped Wieber become an all-around world champion in 2011, and a champion in the all around, bars and floor at the 2010 Pacific Rim Championships.
Wieber herself has CMU ties, as her parents, David and Rita, are Central Michigan alumni, and her brother, Ryan, will be attending in the fall. Her mother was a scholarship track and field student-athlete at CMU.