Same face, same place.
Former two-time Penn gymnastics co-captain and 2013 College graduate Kirsten Strausbaugh has returned to her alma mater, this time as the Quakers’ new assistant coach.
Strausbaugh replaces Kim Parsons, who was at Penn for three seasons, as an assistant under head coach John Ceralde.
For Strausbaugh, it is almost natural that she is back and contributing to the program that she had so much success in
as an athlete.
“I had such a great student-athlete experience, and, to be honest, I love the sport and couldn’t let go,” Strausbaugh said. “I just want to have an impact on the girls and make sure that they are having the same student-athlete experience that I had.”
Even while she was away from Penn, Strausbaugh contributed to the team. The Virginia Beach, Va., native served on the Penn Gymnastics Sports Board, which helps to fundraise and generate support for the program.
In her time as a student-athlete at Penn, Strausbaugh built an impressive competition resume, with both individual and team accomplishments. She led the team to consecutive Ivy Classic championships in 2011 and 2012 and consecutive ECAC titles in 2012 and 2013. She was also named Penn’s Most Valuable Gymnast twice as well as the team’s Most Inspirational Gymnast.
Strausbaugh’s most successful year as gymnast at Penn came during her senior season in 2012-13 when she was an NCAA Regional qualifier, ECAC Gymnast of the Year and Penn’s nominee for the NCAA Woman of the Year Award.
Strausbaugh’s personal experience with the Quakers’ program will surely come in handy in her new coaching role.
“I think my experience here, since I was at Penn, I think that will be the biggest impact just because I know the school-gymnastics balance,” she said.
Strausbaugh’s familiarity with the program is certainly a big advantage in the eyes of the coaching staff, as she already knows the ins and outs of Ceralde’s system.
“Kirsten, as a student-athlete, she was a co-captain for two years, she understands the program, she understands my coaching philosophy and she brings a lot to the table,” Ceralde said. “And I feel that now that she’s on the other side I think that she’s going to bring another level to the program.
“I think bringing her back on board will help us elevate ourselves.”
Strausbaugh represents a familiar face for team members, one that they are already comfortable with.
“She really understands the program, and the continuity in the coaching staff right now is unbelievable,” junior Rachel Graham said. “Everyone just gets along great and is so excited to have her.”
Senior Amber Hu agrees.
“She’s not new here, she’s just in a new position,” Hu said.
Strausbaugh spent last season as the associate head coach of the Florida State University Club Gymnastics Team, an experience that she feels helped prepare her well for coaching at the college level.
“It’s working with all different types of personalities, especially college girls,” Strausbaugh said. “It’s a little bit different than working at clubs with the 18-and-unders, so I think that’s really the biggest experience that I took from working at Florida State.”
Now, with the season just around the corner, Strausbaugh and the Quakers look to recreate the success the program had back when the new assistant coach was an athlete.
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