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William and Mary

W&M Men's Gymnastics Staff

- Head Coach Cliff Gauthier (Denver 1969)

At a recent William and Mary Commencement, Cliff Gauthier was presented with the prestigious Thomas Ashley Graves, Jr. Award for Sustained Excellence in Teaching by the president of the university. “The Graves award recognizes faculty diverse in their expertise but uniform in their dedication to helping students find the very best in themselves. For his work establishing the standard of excellence for William and Mary athletics—and for reminding us that great universities comprise great teachers across the campus—the college is honored to present the Graves Award to Cliff Gauthier.” Gauthier has also received the Honor Coach Award presented by the College Gymnastics Association which reads, “In recognition of his service in coaching and developing gymnastics for over twenty-five years, Cliff Gauthier has gained the respect of his associates in the gymnastics world by his inspiring example and accomplishments.”

Entering his 36th year at William and Mary, Gauthier is riding an impressive streak of 12 College Gymnastics Association Collegiate Coach of the Year selections in the past 15 years. Since 1992, Gauthier has also produced five Nissen-Emery Award finalists, two NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship winners plus two NCAA national champions and one runner-up. Including dual meets, opens, and invitationals , Gauthier’s teams have compiled a 716-276-1 record during his tenure on the William and Mary campus. His gymnasts have earned 143 USA Gymnastics Collegiate All-America awards. The 1994-1997, 1999, and 2001-2007 teams won the USA Gymnastics Collegiate Nationals while the 1991, 1992, 2002, and 2008 teams won the College Gymnastics Association’s National Academic Team Title. The 1994, 2000, 2001, and 2003 teams finished second in the national academic team standings. As individuals, William and Mary gymnasts have earned more Academic All-America designations in men’s gymnastics than gymnasts from any other university. Excellence of the scholar-athlete is the heart of the William and Mary program.

Gauthier received his bachelor’s degree cum laude from the University of Denver where he was a top eight NCAA Division I finalist on various events during each of his final three years of collegiate competition. His senior year was culminated by his selection as the university’s outstanding scholar-athlete. Gauthier also earned a master’s degree in kinesiology from the University of Colorado in between three years of teaching secondary level mathematics in the Denver area and coaching at the University of Denver. He and his wife, Linda, have two daughters and six grandchildren.

A Reflection on 700 Victories at W&M — For most of my colleagues in all aspects of sport from coaching and competing to sports administration and reporting, wins are the primary validation of their career or a career in sports in general. As a competitor and a young coach, I was well on my way down this same path—if you weren’t a national finalist you weren’t much; if you didn’t win you were a loser. Had I continued down this route, my 700th victory at William and Mary would have been a great occasion and accomplishment—a validation of my coaching career—but it also could have been rather hollow as true coaching is much more than wins and loses.

I will forever be in debt to my teams at William and Mary and W&M itself for providing such a fertile ground for me in the development of my philosophy of sport, coaching, and education in general. As a result, that 700th win wasn’t at all hollow just as it wasn’t the primary affirmation of my career. My affirmation comes on a daily basis, watching people grow and learn, in addition to helping each other out in a true spirit of teamwork and personal development.

Since coming to W&M it seems as if our gymnastics program has perpetually improved step by step. Some of the dual meet wins really do stand out as they signaled our stepping up another notch. Our steps forward in championship meets were also significant and quite memorable—the first State Title, the first trophy at the Southern Intercollegiates , the first SIGL title, the victories at the NAGL and the ECAC conference meets, the USA Gymnastics Collegiate titles, as well as our first team appearance at the NCAA’s.

A lot of first individual accomplishments also stand out in my mind. The first State Champion, the first SIGL finalist, the first NCAA qualifier, the first NCAA regional champ, the first NCAA All-American, the first USAG Collegiate All-American, the first USAG Collegiate national champion, the first USAG Collegiate outstanding senior, the first William and Mary Outstanding Senior Athlete, the first W&M Hall of Fame Inductee, the first Nissen-Emery Award finalist, and the first NCAA national champion, all come to mind. Paralleling these athletic achievements were always the honors projects, the Phi Beta Kappa initiations, the numerous academic All-American awards, and the outstanding finishes in the national team academic standings.

The individual accomplishments in which so many of our gymnasts got the most out of their abilities often exceeding all legitimate expectations in their gymnastics and their academics while at W&M and then going on to great successes in life after graduation have been quite memorable. As I look back on these team and individual accomplishments, I have always had many more victories than wins.

Assistant Coach Pete Walker (William and Mary, 1993)

The presence of assistant coach Pete Walker has helped give a constant stability to the William and Mary gymnastics program during his 13 year tenure, during which he has assisted Head Coach Cliff Gauthier in taking the team to unprecedented successes.

In his time as an assistant coach, he has helped the squad make five appearances at the NCAA Team Championships, including last season’s school-record tying 11th-place finish. Walker has also played a large role in helping 2006 W&M grad Ramon Jackson to one of the most successful careers in school history, including three NCAA All-American honors.

Walker’s outstanding talents were recognized this past season as he was selection as the 2008 Assistant Coach of the Year by two different organizations (Eastern College Athletic Conference and USA Gymnastics, which honored him at the its Collegiate Team Championships).

These recognitions continued an award winning tradition for Walker that started during his undergraduate years at William and Mary where he was one of the only two gymnasts to have twice received the squad’s coveted “Mister Award,” which is given annually to the gymnast who, in the eyes of his teammates, is most inspirational to and responsible for the character and success of the team.

In the history of William and Mary gymnastics, only three gymnasts have achieved the remarkable distinction of ranking in the all-time top 10 records on every event when they graduated. Pete, who graduated with a degree in Spanish and elementary education, is one of those three gymnasts as he ranked first in William and Mary’s all-time parallel bar records, third on high bar, fourth in the all around, eighth on floor exercise, rings and vaulting and 10th on pommel horse when he graduated. Pete also captained the 1992 team that was declared the National Academic Team Champion by the Collegiate Gymnastics Association.

In addition to his duties with the squad, Walker has served countless hours in mentoring the College’s youth gymnastics program and coaches a traveling squad of youth gymnasts.

Pete and his wife, Cindy Walker, have two children, Emma and Nathan, and are eagerly expecting a third addition to their family in June.

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