By Shawn McFarland
After 35 years at the helm of the Springfield College men’s gymnastics team, Steve Posner is set to retire following the 2016-17 season.
The winningest coach in Springfield history (143 wins), Posner joined the Pride in 1982 after a two-year stint coaching SUNY Cortland. His record speaks for itself: he’s coached 165 All-American athletes and 25 national champions, all while turning Springfield College into one of the top gymnastics institutes in the country.
Posner explained that his 35 years gave him an infinite amount of good memories, but there’s a varied amount of team and individual honors that stand out. There was the span from 1991-93 where the team three-peated the Div. 2-3 championships. Or individual victories, like Pat Ryther winning the Eastern Championship, or Ryan Ponce finishing third at the NCAA Championship in 2014.
“That was unbelievable,” Posner said, marveling at Ponce’s accomplishment. “He finished third in the country – he beat guys that competed in the Olympics. That was absolutely unbelievable. That was definitely a highlight.”
Posner added that while it’s always a joy to see victories on the mat, it’s even more rewarding to see his athletes succeed off it.
“One of the exciting this that college years for everybody are a real time of change,” Posner said. “The students are on their own, they’re leaving home and they’re experimenting with different things. I find it exciting to be able to work with student athletes during that growth time. They’re learning things through sport that will hopefully make them more successful outside of the sport.”
Posner finds himself in an interesting spot in his final season. The team across the board is one of the youngest Posner has ever dealt with, and that includes 10 freshman.
While Posner only has one season with the newcomers, he wants to leave a lasting impression.
“I’m trying to teach them and leave them in a really good way so that they can continue to improve,” Posner said. “But I’m also trying to get what I can out of them this year – because they’re a really talented group.”
A replacement has yet to be named, but as is with most coach hirings, a committee will be assembled – headed by athletic director Craig Poisson. The team will hold a nationwide search and track down the best candidate, someone that understands what it takes to coach at Springfield College. Posner expects his replacement to be named in April.