After 33 impressive seasons of coaching, it was announced in May that Paul Stoklos has retired as the Seawolves’ head gymnastics coach. UAA’s Head Athletic Director Keith Hackett made the announcement, which came as a surprise to everyone in the community.
Stoklos started the program in the 80’s and has led it through many changes and success — including the transition into NCAA Division I status in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation.
Stoklos has always referred to UAA as his “home.”
“When I came to UAA for the job interview in 1984, I knew that this was where I wanted to stay. I saw an amazing opportunity to start a program from scratch and to build it,” Stoklos said.
Stoklos oversaw over 100 gymnasts during his career, including 13 USAG All-Americans from 1985-2005, including national champions Elena Tkacheva, Jessica Simmons and Dominique Ingram.
“[The] most rewarding part of coaching is the see young athletes mature into adults as they purse a great education while training and competing in a sport that we all love,” Stoklos said. “[We guide] them to attain a fantastic education, train them to compete to their greatest potential and providing them with life skills, we send them into the real world where they become contributing members of this community and countless others. It’s this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these young adults that I will miss most.”
Stoklos and his gymnasts have acquired many qualifications and awards throughout the past 15 years in MPSF.
In his program, 17 of the athletes have qualified for the national NCAA finals, in addition, 82 all-academic awards have been produced on this team, an amount that towers over all the other schools in the MPSF. In addition, Stoklos was also voted the MPSF Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2016.
It hasn’t always been easy, Stoklos mentioned. Dealing with a group of young, college girls sometimes comes with challenges.
“The most challenging part [was always trying to] keep the student athletes from being distracted from all that is going on around them,” Stoklos said.
Regardless of his departure from the team and from the UAA athletic community, Stoklos still hopes for the best and prepared the team for the first season without him.
“Next season, [they] will see an increased squad size to make up for the loses of team members, [which could let] them have a more successful season.” Stoklos said.
UAA athletics will have a fill a large gap that will be clearly seen from the athletic community. Hackett commented on the immense contribution that Stoklos has put into his teams.
“He was strongly committed to ensuring that his student-athletes excelled in their studies first and foremost, and we are grateful for all he did for our institution and community. We wish him all the best,” Hackett said.
It was announced by Hackett that the UAA Athletic Department has already begun a search to replace Stoklos before the commencement of fall 2017.