San Jose, Calif. – Joanne Bowers, who throughout her career has guided athletes to the highest levels of collegiate women’s gymnastics, was named the sixth head coach in San José State gymnastics now 50-year history. Marie Tuite, the Spartans’ director of athletics, made the announcement on Thursday.
"I have known Coach Bowers for a long time and could not be more thrilled to welcome both she and her family to the Spartans’ family,” said Tuite. “There is no question Joanne is an excellent coach; however, more importantly, she embraces the core values I have for our Athletics program. In the vernacular of gymnastics, this hire is a ‘perfect 10’ for our women's gymnastics program.”
From 2007 through 2016, Bowers was the head women’s gymnastics coach at the University of Washington during which time she returned that program to national prominence.
Her teams competed in the NCAA Regional Championships in each of her 10 years with the Huskies. In 2007, her first at the helm, she was named the Pac-12 Coach of the Year and two years later earned West Region Coach of the Year honors.
Through her tutelage she produced three NCAA regional individual champions and her athletes competed in seven event and all-around finals at six NCAA Championship meets.
Bowers’ gymnasts were successful in competitions and in the classroom. Twenty of her athletes earned all-conference distinction and 64 were named academic all-conference honorees.
“I would like to thank Athletics Director Marie Tuite, President Mary Papazian and the hiring committee for the opportunity to be San José State’s next gymnastics head coach,” said Bowers, who accepted a five-year contract. “I am thrilled to return to coaching at the Division I level and especially at San José State, which has a rich gymnastics tradition. My plan is to move it forward by hiring a great staff, recruit diligently, and constantly keep the student-athlete wellness at the forefront of every decision while promoting a championship atmosphere. Team culture is so incredibly important to the success of a program, and I will make it our top priority.”
Prior to the taking the helm at Washington, she spent nine years as an assistant coach at the University of Michigan (2001-2006) and Kent State University (1997-2001).
Bowers helped guide the Wolverines to a seventh-place finish at the 2006 NCAA Championships and during five seasons with the Wolverines, Michigan competed in the NCAA Championships five times and won four Big Ten Championships. In Ann Arbor, she coached six individual All-Americans on beam and seven on floor. In addition, she tutored individuals to Big Ten Championships on beam and floor four times during her tenure.
In four years as an assistant at Kent State, she helped lead the Golden Flashes to the 2001 Mid-American Conference championship, and she was named the 2001 NACGC/W Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
A 1982 graduate of James Madison University with a degree in physical education, she was a four-year letterwinner and two-time team captain of the Dukes’ women's gymnastics team. She earned her master's degree in education with a minor in administration and supervision from Austin Peay State University in 1985.
Following graduation, she coached various club teams in the Midwest and on the East Coast and was certified as a gymnastics judge at club meets. From 1990-93, Bowers was the head women's gymnastics coach at Illinois State University, where she coached individuals to NCAA Regional berths.
“Being able to have our family on the same coast and to work with Marie again are two of the reasons I was interested in this opportunity,” said Bowers. “Working with Marie at the Washington was special. She and I share a similar vision for hard-working, high-integrity people that will do things the right way. I can’t wait to get started!”
Joanne Bowers By the Numbers (1989-2016)
1 – Pac-12 Coach of the Year (2007)
1 – West Region Coach of the Year (2009)
1 – Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year (2001)
1 – Coached 2000 USA Olympic Gymnastics Team captain Elise Ray
2 – CoSIDA Academic All-District IV student-athletes
5 – Conference championships
8 – Individual conference champions
17 – West Regional Championship team appearances
13 – All-Americans
14 – Years as a Division I head coach
23 – Years as a Division I coach
43 – All-conference honorees
95 – Academic all-conference honorees
What people are saying about Joanne Bowers
“Joanne is not only a great coach, she is a wonderful person. She is genuine and has her priorities in order. Her athletes come first. She has a big picture prospective and will produce a highly successful program by developing a strong culture, and recruiting athletes with the right values and work ethic both in the gym and in the classroom.”
Beverly Plocki, Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach, University of Michigan
“I’m absolutely thrilled for Joanne. She is one of the best and purest people I know both as a coach and a mentor. She’ll be an inspiration for the gymnasts at San José State and I’m really excited for her, the student-athletes and the university. You’ve got a winner.”
Brice Biggin, Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach, Kent State University
"As a proud Spartan alum, I am excited about the hiring of Joanne Bowers. Joanne brings a wealth of coaching experience from many conferences including the PAC-12, and I am excited to see the new heights that SJSU gymnastics will reach under her guidance."
Justin Howell, Head Women’s Gymnastics Coach, University of California
“We are happy to see Joanne get back to collegiate coaching. She is a tremendous coach that cares deeply about the student-athlete experience.”
Jennifer Cohen, Athletics Director, University of Washington