Alabama Gymnastics Head Coach Ashley Johnston Appoints Olympian and NCAA Champion Justin Spring to the Coaching Staff

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Olympic medalist and NCAA champion Justin Spring has joined the Alabama gymnastics staff head coach Ashley Johnston announced Tuesday. Spring will act as an assistant coach and will work with all aspects of the program.

“I’ve known Justin since we were on the US national team and I’m really looking forward to bringing his experience, enthusiasm and spirit to our program,” said Johnston. “As an Olympian and NCAA Champion as both a gymnast and a coach, he knows exactly what it takes to excel in this sport at the highest level and he has proven time and time again to share his knowledge and experience in this way can benefit his student-athletes the most. As well as being an outstanding technical coach, he brings so much joy and energy to everything he does and shares our philosophy of developing the whole person and putting the well-being of the student-athletes first.”

A member of the United States Olympic bronze-medal squad, Spring joins the Crimson Tide team after his 12th season as head coach of the Illinois men’s team and 16th season overall on the Illinois coaching staff. He was named National Coach of the Year in 2012 after leading Illinois to their 10th NCAA championship. At 28, he became the youngest coach in NCAA history to receive National Coach of the Year honors. He led Illinois to 11 top-six finishes at the NCAA championships, including the 2012 title, and four Big Ten titles, most recently in 2018.

“I am very excited to take up this incredible opportunity at one of the top gymnastics programs in the country,” said Spring. “Ashley has assembled a cohesive team dedicated to developing student athletes in and out of 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 Fighting Illini’s head coach, Spring guided 11 gymnasts to individual NCAA titles, including three NCAA champions in 2010, 2011 and 2012. The Illini collected 79 All-America honors during Spring’s tenure as head coach. During his coaching career at Illini, he was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 2018, 2012, 2011 and 2010, Central Region Coach of the Year in 2011 and 2010, and Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year in 2009.

Spring and his wife Tori have three children, sons Cody and Elliot and daughter Callie.

The Olympic games

  • Led Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
  • In the Olympic Team Finals, Spring led Team USA to an unexpected bronze medal, posting a 15,900 on vault, a team-leading 15,850 on parallel bars, a 15,675 on high bar, and a 15,200 on floor in a three-up, three-count format
  • Earned one of six places at the Beijing 2008 Olympics after the US Trials

National and international competition

  • US Olympic gold medalist and eight-time member of the US Senior National Team
  • 2008 Visa US Championships Gold Medalist – Parallel Bars
  • Eight-time member of the United States Senior National Team
  • 2007 Pan American Games Team Member – Bronze Medal
  • 2007 Pan American Gold Medalist – Bars
  • 2007 Visa US Championships Gold Medalist – High Bar
  • 2007 Visa US Championships Silver Medalist – Floor Exercise
  • 2007 Moscow World Championships silver medalist – horizontal bar
  • Member of the US team at the 2005 World Championships
  • 2005 Visa US Championships Gold Medalist – High Bar
  • 2005 Winter Cup Champion – high bar
  • 2005 American Cup Silver Medalist – High Bar
  • Team member of the World University Games 2003

Competing for the Illini

  • He graduated from the University of Illinois with a bachelor’s degree in Voice Communications in 2006 and earned his master’s degree in Recreation, Sports and Tourism in 2014
  • The 2006 Nissen-Emery Award, an honor that goes to the nation’s top senior gymnast
  • Led the Illini to second place at the 2006 NCAA and Big Ten Championships
  • 13-time All-American
  • 2006 NCAA Parallel Bars Champion
  • 2006 NCAA High Bar Co-Champion
  • 2006 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year
  • 2006 Big Ten Bar Champion
  • 2006 Big Ten All-Around Champion
  • 2005 US National High Bar Champion
  • 2005 NCAA Parallel Bars Champion
  • 2004 NCAA High Bar Champion
  • 2004 Big Ten Floor Exercise Champion
  • Three-time All Big Ten team member
  • Two-time UI Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year (2004, 2006)
  • Illinois School Record Holder (FX, VT, PB, HB)
  • Two-year team captain

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