TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Since 1974, only two people have been the head coach of Alabama gymnastics, and as of Thursday afternoon, there will soon be a third.
Dana Duckworth, the head coach for the last nine seasons, announced she would be stepping down.
“It has been an absolute honor to compete for, recruit and coach so many amazing women who have been a part of the Alabama gymnastics family,” Duckworth said in a press release. “I cherish the relationships made by being a part of this program and our alumni sisterhood. The experiences we shared will stay with me for the rest of my life."
"This decision was not an easy one as I am forever grateful to our student-athletes, their families, my staff and fellow coaches. The University of Alabama is a special place and I care deeply about the gymnastics program, but after 27 years of involvement, I have decided to step down and focus on my family for now. I have all the confidence in the world in this team and wish nothing but great things for their future."
Duckworth took over the head role in 2014 for the legendary Sarah Patterson who she was an assistant coach under for 15 years. She was also a gymnast at Alabama from 1990-1993.
Alabama won the SEC title during her first season in 2014 and also in 2021. However, the team never finished higher than third at nationals in Duckworth's tenure, and the Crimson Tide hasn't made the finals at NCAAs since 2017.
Last season, the Crimson Tide set records throughout the season with three scores of 198 or better, but fell short in the semifinals with a 197.100.
The parity around college gymnastics, specifically in the SEC, has grown significantly over the last few seasons with the conference having four of the eight teams at the NCAA Championships semifinal in Fort Worth back in April.
As an assistant coach from 2000-2014, Alabama won three national championships, six SEC titles and 17 NCAA regional championships. Duckworth was part of the 1991 NCAA championship and 1990 SEC team championships as a gymnast and was a two-time individual NCAA champion on balance beam.
"We appreciate Coach Duckworth’s contributions to Alabama gymnastics, both as a coach and a student-athlete,” said Alabama Director of Athletics Greg Byrne in a press release. “She has had a lot of success over the years as a coach and as a leader in the community, and we wish Dana and her family all the best going forward."
According to the release, assistant Gina Quinlan will serve as interim head coach until a replacement is found. The search for a new head coach will begin immediately.
Alabama has won six national championships in gymnastics with the most recent coming in 2012.