Utah Gymnastics: Red Rocks Retrospective
Original Airdate: February 2019
Fireworks light the ambitious faces of athletes running out of the west tunnel into the arena. It’s a home meet for the University of Utah’s gymnastics team program. As many as 15,000 fans packed into the Jon M. Huntsman Center cheer and flash “U” hand signs. The fervor for today’s Utah gymnastics program has been nurtured over decades — momentum built from grueling practices, determination, academic achievement and coveted perfect 10s.
The passage of Title IX in 1972 granted women equal rights in higher education and the University of Utah sought to expand opportunities for women in athletics. In 1975, the U. approached Greg Marsden, a graduate student from Arkansas and former college diver teaching physical education classes, about establishing a women’s gymnastics program. Given a space in a gym shared with intramural basketball games and P. E. classes, Marsden set to work posting fliers across campus to recruit a team.
He would go on to create one of the most successful college athletic programs of all time.
Over 40 seasons, Marsden led the Utah gymnastics team to 10 national titles, broke attendance records and inspired academic excellence among the gymnasts. Because of Marsden’s legacy, Utah has produced more All-American athletes than any other gymnastics program. In fact, the Utah gymnasts is the only team to qualify for every NCAA championship since its inception.
Beyond the athletic accomplishments he inspired, Marsden was also responsible for marketing the team to attract legions of fans, thousands of season ticket holders and curating one of the most dedicated fan bases in all of college sports.
University of Utah Gymnastics: Red Rocks Retrospective features archival footage from vaults, bars and beam to floor routines, spanning the decades and some of the team’s memorable high-scoring feats. The film celebrates key coaches, fans and supporters of the program while showcasing the inspiring drive of the All-American athletes who vaulted the U.’s program to success.
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Support for Utah Gymnastics: Red Rocks Retrospective comes from Patricia Cosgriff & Rainer Dahl, and the contributing members of PBS Utah (formerly KUED).