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Gymnastics coach’s leadership shown in “Coach of the Year” award

A gymnastics team doesn’t have its best finish at the Mid-American Conference Championships since 1991 by accident.

The 2014 season was the result of a collaboration of things, but one thing is for sure head coach Kerrie Turner’s leadership played a big part.

Turner has overcome many obstacles as she enters her eighth year at the helm and her leadership has been the key in the program’s rebuilding process.

“It’s about being able to listen to the people around you and being able to make decisions that are best for the team,” said Turner while defining leadership. “I need to have a handle of my athletes. Knowing where they are in the mental process of excellence, while making sure I am clearly explaining to them the expectations and following through with them.”

A lot of what Turner preaches to her team, her club coach and mentor Tom Alberte preached to her as well while she was competing. Alberte was a coach who excelled in listening to the athletes and motivating them as well Turner said.

“He was good at teaching us that the lessons we are going to learn in the gym we are going to take on in life as well,” she said.

It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows throughout Turner’s career though, there were times where her coaching and leadership abilities were tested.

The team had accumulated three wins and two fifth place MAC Championship finishes between the years of 2010-2012. Instead of sulking and beating herself up over each loss, she made the decision to change things around in program.

“I think she was done being that team,” said Gina Locigno, senior and 2014 captain. “She just came up with different ways to do things and I think that really worked.”

Things got worse before they got better for the Falcons. Turner made the decision that the culture needed to be changed in order to move forward.

In that culture change process they lost athletes from the team, but at that point it allowed them to move forward as a team.

“We had to let people go from the team,” Turner said. “But when you are focused on what’s best for the team you can turn that corner.”

There was nowhere to go but up for Turner and the Falcons and in 2013 that is the direction they went. They finished 5-11 that season and would also improve in MAC play with a 3-3 finish.

Turner was rewarded for that turn around, being named the 2013 MAC Coach of the Year. She was shocked when her name was announced, but she wants her team up there more she said.

“I’m not big on awards, but I was taken aback,” Turner said. “I’m grateful for it but I want a championship.”

The Falcons continued their improvement in 2014 as they finished the season 7-9 and 4-2 in MAC play. They also finished third in at the MAC Championships

“She knows how to build up the program, each year we get better and better,” said Caroline Ellingboe, junior. “She knows how to keep building us up and making us stronger.”

Her leadership through the tough times has this team and program in a position where a MAC Championship is no longer a dream, it is a reality.

“What I love about BG [is] we can win with anything. The successful coaches and leaders do that” Turner said. “As long as we have leotards we are good.”

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