Head coach JD Reive is taking GymHawk program to new heights


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It’s difficult for the GymHawks to look ahead to future seasons with the NCAA championships fresh on their minds. But regardless of how the Hawkeyes perform in University Park, they’re well aware of their program’s future potential after this weekend.

Senior all-around competitor Brody Shemansky will suit up in black and gold for the final time at the NCAAs. But nonetheless, he’s thrilled about where his program is headed after he’s gone.

“I’m excited for years to come,” he said. “We’re going in a positive direction, and it seems like the program is making great progress at the moment.”

After eight seasons as an assistant coach at gymnastics powerhouse Stanford University, JD Reive became the seventh head men’s gymnastics coach in Iowa history in 2010. Since arriving in Iowa City, Reive has made significant progress with what was once a struggling program. His third season at the helm is nearing its conclusion, but the excitement for the Hawkeye program is only starting to build.

The gymnasts know they alone are responsible for putting scores on the judge’s scorecards. But they were quick to credit their coach for the program’s recent rejuvenation.

“The country has a lot of respect for JD,” redshirt sophomore Lance Alberhasky said. “I have high-school teammates at Stanford and they had nothing but praise for JD. They know this Iowa program is going to be on the rise.”

This generation of Iowa fans and spectators would be hard pressed to remember a more successful Hawkeye gymnastics season than the 2012-13 campaign. At one point this year, Iowa had won three-consecutive dual meets against teams ranked in the top-10, including a stunning upset against defending national champion Illinois on the road.

“We’re going to be one of the top programs in the country,” Alberhasky said. “JD’s program has worked in the past. Just look at Stanford. He had multiple national championships with them.”
“By following his program, I definitely feel like many of the guys on this team can get to where they want to be. I have full confidence in what JD is trying to do.”

Reive has credited his squad for accepting the program as its own. Gymnastics’ roots come from technique, form, and precision. Knowing there’s a very wide range of those aspects present on the Hawkeye squad, Reive is impressed with his team’s ability to adapt.

“They’ve embraced the culture and accepted it as their program,” Reive told The Daily Iowan on Dec. 4. “There’s no more of me coming in and imposing my ideas on them. It’s a group. We’re all working to better the Hawkeyes and put them on the podium where they belong.”

Hallmarks of the Reive program have been increasing gymnasts’ efficiency, strength, and flexibility, Alberhasky said.

“I struggled a bit with efficiency my freshman and sophomore year,” the Iowa City native said. “That led to injuries, because I wasn’t following the complete program. This year, it finally hit me that efficiency is the most important part of gymnastics. And that’s the No. 1 thing I’ve taken away from JD.”

Though this season has been wildly successful in the eyes of the team and its followers, Reive and his staff are focused on the big picture. According to his gymnasts, Reive will not be satisfied until the Iowa program is a flagship for machine-like dominance.

“He’s going to keep working his ass off to get us better,” Alberhasky said. “That’s his ultimate goal. He has said it’s nice to see some regular-season success, but he won’t be satisfied until we’re Big Ten and NCAA champions. And that will happen in the next couple years.”

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