Leland retires after 17 seasons as assistant coach
April 27, 2015
DENVER -- University of Denver women's gymnastics assistant coach Carl Leland has announced his retirement after 17 seasons with the team.
"It came time to make a sacrifice in my work life for the sake of my personal life," said Leland. "I'm thankful to Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart and the University of Denver for 17 tremendous years. I'm so grateful for the support from the alumni, the fans and the administration. They make the University of Denver a special home for our student-athletes. I'll forever be a Pioneer.
"The timing felt right. We had a great year in 2015. The team works exceptionally hard and has a great foundation on which to continue building. Recruiting is going exceptionally well, and I think Denver Gymnastics is poised to have great success in the coming years.
"Melissa found a great complement in Linas Gaveika, and she'll exercise due diligence on finding my replacement to see that the program doesn't miss a beat."
During Leland's time with the Pioneers, at least one student-athlete qualified to the NCAA National Championships in 16 consecutive seasons--including three team appearances in 2001, 2007 and 2008. The team advanced to the NCAA Regionals in each of his 17 seasons.
The Pioneers finished the 2015 season ranked No. 15 after claiming their third highest RQS (196.455) in program history. They also ended the regular season ranked inside the top 25 on all four events, including No. 9 on floor and No. 12 on vault, and did not count a fall on any event all season long.
His leadership of the DU floor squad resulted in one of the most consistently successful teams in the nation, finishing in the top 25 on the event in all but three of his seasons--and in the top 10 four times, including the No. 9 final ranking in 2015. For two weeks in 2003, he helped the Pioneers to a No. 1 national ranking on floor.
In 2015, Nina McGee tied for second on floor at the NCAA National Championships and finished the season No. 3 in the final floor rankings. Two individuals received No. 1 national rankings on floor under Leland: McGee in 2015 and Michelle Kasuga in 2003.
"I'm blessed and thankful to have had Carl in my life, and I credit him for who I am today," said head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart. "It's been an incredible honor to have the opportunity to grow and build this program together for the last 17 years.
"I'm sad upon his retirement, but I am so excited for him to pursue this next step in his life. We will all miss him tremendously, and our friendship extends beyond gymnastics."
Prior to joining the DU coaching staff in the fall of 1998 with Kutcher-Rinehart, Leland coached at the University of Georgia, helping the Gymdogs to the 1987 NCAA title, a regional championship in 1986 and back-to-back Southeastern Conference titles 1986 and 1987.
Leland has worked in the greater Denver area since 1990, including as owner of High Country Gymnastics in Englewood, Colo., from 1993-99. Under his coaching guidance, 19 gymnasts qualified to Junior Olympic National Championships from 1990-98, which included a bronze medalist on pommel horse in 1998.
As a collegiate gymnast, Leland competed at Ball State University from 1978-82 and qualified to the NCAA National Championships on high bar in 1982.
He received his bachelor's degree in biology/pre-medicine from Ball State in 1983, which he followed with a master's in physical education from Georgia in 1989.
A national search for Denver's new assistant coach will begin immediately.
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