Jerry Reighard has built Central Michigan gymnastics into the premier program in the Mid-American Conference and has put the Chippewas prominently on the map at the regional and national levels.
Reighard took over the program in 1984-85, and by 1990, led the Chippewas to their first – but far from last -- title at the MAC Championships. Reighard has guided CMU to first-place finishes at the league championships 15 times, including a record five consecutive from 2010-14. The 15 crowns and five in a row are both records.
CMU has also won seven MAC regular-season championships in the 14 years that the conference has awarded a regular-season title. Reighard has been the man pulling the levers for all of those titles, and he has been named the MAC Coach of the Year nine times.
Five Chippewas, beginning with Reighard’s daughter, Kara, in 2005, have earned the MAC Gymnast of the Year Award; eight have earned the league’s Senior Gymnast of the Year Award; and six have been named the conference Freshman of the Year.
In 2015, Kylie Fagan became the first in program history to be named an All-American, when she was so honored in the uneven parallel bars by the National Association of Collegiate Gymnstics Coaches.
The Chippewas have won more individual MAC titles in the sport’s four disciplines – vault, uneven bars, balance beam and floor exercise – than any other program. CMU ranks first in uneven bars champions (16), floor exercise champions (21) and balance beam champions (11), and is second in vault champions (11).
In addition, CMU gymnasts have been crowned the all-around champion at the MAC Championships 13 times, which also ranks first among its league brethren. In all, 72 times CMU student-athletes have stood at the top of the podium at the MAC Championships.
Reighard has led the Chippewas to a 505-247-5 record during his tenure and in 2003 he was named the NCAA Central Regional Coach of the Year after guiding the Chippewas to a best-in-program-history second-place finish at the NCAA Regional.
CMU has made 13 regional appearances under Reighard, all in the last 18 years. Reighard was named the National Invitational Tournament Coach of the Year in 1998 and 2000. Under Reighard, the Chippewas have won six individual regional championships.
Individually, Reighard’s gymnasts have left an indelible mark on the MAC during his three-plus decades in charge of the program. CMU’s Katie Teft, Sara Burtinsky, Nikki Liphardt and Kara Reighard still hold MAC Championship records on uneven bars, balance beam, floor exercise and all-around, respectively. And the Chippewas hold the MAC Championships records for team scoring on vault, uneven bars, floor exercise and overall, all four of which have stood for more than a decade.
Seventy-seven times CMU gymnasts have made the MAC Championships all-tournament team, and 11 times (four first-teamers, seven second-teamers) Chippewa gymnasts have been named to the All-MAC squad since it was instituted in 2013.
The success of the program extends outside the gym. Six Chippewas have been named a MAC Distinguished Scholar-Athlete in the two years that the league has presented the honor, and 52 times – more than any other school -- CMU gymnasts have been named Academic All-MAC.
Reighard’s teams have ranked in the top 20 nationally in grade point average seven times during his tenure.
Reighard holds two degrees from CMU, a Bachelor of Science in industrial engineering and technology and a master’s in physical education and sport administration. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at CMU in 1975 and coached the boys and girls teams at Ionia High School for a decade, leading the Bulldog boys to back to back state championships in 1983 and ’84.
Reighard, a Westland, Mich. Native, has been a nationally rated judge since 1975 and an internationally rated judge since 1980. He has judged a variety of national and international meets and was a master scorer at the 1996 Olympics, worked at the 1991 World Championships and judged at the national level and at the Olympic Trials.
Jerry and his wife Nancy, a CMU assistant for 15 years, have been married for 42 years. Nancy is a former CMU gymnast a member of the 1976 squad, the only in program history to qualify for national competition. They and have four adult children, Brett, Kara, Jill and Mark., and one grandchild.
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