June 7, 2006
SEATTLE - The University of Washington women's gymnastics program will enter a new era poised to return to national prominence with athletics director Todd Turner's announcement of the hiring of Joanne Bowers as only the fifth head coach in the program's 32 years of existence.
Bowers, who spent the previous five seasons as a highly-successful assistant coach at the University of Michigan, helped lead the Wolverines to a seventh-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Championships and will begin her duties at the UW on June 26.
"We are thrilled to have Joanne join the Husky program," stated Turner. "Her past experience as a head coach as well as an assistant at a top Division I institution will be a great asset. The staff and student-athletes who interviewed her were impressed with and excited by her vision for leading Husky gymnastics into the forefront of the sport."
During Bowers' five seasons with the Wolverines, Michigan went to the NCAA Championships every year and won four Big Ten Championships. Bowers, who focused primarily on floor exercise and balance beam for Michigan, coached six individual All-Americans on beam and seven on floor. In addition, she tutored individuals to Big Ten Championships on beam and floor four times during her tenure.
Prior to joining the Michigan staff, Bowers spent four years as an assistant at Kent State University, helping the Golden Flashes to a Mid-American Conference championship in 2001. For her efforts, she earned Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year honors from the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastic Coaches for Women (NACGC/W).
Bowers graduated from James Madison University with a physical education degree in 1982. She was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain of the women's gymnastics team while at JMU. Bowers went on to obtain her master's degree in education with a minor in administration and supervision from Austin Peay State University in 1985.
Following graduation, she coached various club teams in the Midwest and on the East Coast and spent time as a gymnastics judge. From 1989-93, Bowers was the head women's gymnastics coach at Illinois State University, where she coached individuals to the NCAA Regional and National Championships. Bowers returned to coaching club teams and judging gymnastics before joining Kent State in 1988.
"I'm so excited for this opportunity, to be a head coach again, especially at a place like the University of Washington," said Bowers. "Once I came out here with my husband, we fell in love with it. I feel the potential for gymnastics in the area is just wonderful and I have a feeling it's a place we can come and thrive. "
Bowers' husband, John, was an assistant football coach at Bowling Green State University where he coached the linebackers. She has two sons: David, 23, who is graduating this year from Bowling Green State University, and Ross, 9, who just completed the third grade.
Joanne Bowers helped Michigan to eighth-place finishes or better in the NCAA's five times.