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Ashley Priess-Johnston Named Head Coach of Alabama Gymnastics

Crimson Tide director of athletics Greg Byrne wasted little time in naming a new gymnastics coach.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Ashley Priess-Johnston is coming home. 

The former Alabama gymnast was announced as the Crimson Tide’s next gymnastics head coach Monday evening. Johnston will be formally introduced at a press conference on Friday. 

She replaces Dana Duckworth who stepped down as head coach last week.

"We are beyond excited to have Ashley Johnston take over the reins of our gymnastics program as our head coach," Alabama athletics director Greg Byrne said through a release. "Everyone we've spoken to holds her in the highest regards as a coach, mentor and leader, including long-time head coach Sarah Patterson, who I've had wonderful conversations with during this search and I really appreciate her support. Throughout this process with Ashley, we've been very impressed with her commitment to the total student-athlete. One of the grittiest and most accomplished competitors in our program's proud history, she has translated her achievements as a gymnast into a standout career as a coach, and we are thrilled to have her back in Tuscaloosa."

Johnston was a 10-time All-American and member of back-to-back NCAA Championship teams. She is best known for closing out the 2012 NCAA Championships with a near-perfect balance beam routine to clinch Alabama's sixth national team title.

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"I am honored to be trusted as your new head gymnastics coach," Johnston said. "Thank you to Greg Byrne and the amazing executive team for allowing me to share my vision, passion and commitment to student-athlete well-being and to the future of this storied program. I look forward to reconnecting with each and every one of you. With a very full heart, I want to say, 'Thank you,' and 'Roll Tide!'"

Johnston comes to Alabama after spending the past four seasons as the associate head coach at Auburn. She helped lead the Tigers to their highest-ever finish last year as Auburn ranked fourth nationally. During her first season at Auburn, she earned WGCA Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year. Johnston started her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Illinois in 2018, spending one season with the program before moving to Auburn. 

Before moving into the college ranks, Johnston started her coaching career at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, where she worked with CGA head coach Mary Lee Tracy at the Elite and developmental level, while coaching the floor exercise and balance beam optional program.

Johnston is Alabama's seventh head gymnastics coach since 1974 and third since 1979. The Crimson Tide has won six NCAA Championships (1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012), 10 SEC Championships and an NCAA-best 32 regional titles.

Alabama Crimson Tide gymnast Ashley Priess competes on the uneven bars during semifinals of the 2013 NCAA Women's Gymnastics Championships at Pauley Pavilion.

This story will be updated