By Luke Whitehouse
As Springfield College’s Homeshow wrapped up this past weekend, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for Christian Wilkey Jr.
Wilkey Jr. is entering his first season as the assistant coach for the men’s gymnastics team after spending the past four as a gymnast for the Pride.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” Wilkey Jr. said, who’s getting used to the transition. “It’s been really really good [so far].”
Wilkey Jr. didn’t know he wanted to be a gymnastics coach after graduation, but he knew that gymnastics had been a part of his life, and he wanted that to continue. When head coach Matt Davis offered him the assistant coach position shortly after graduation, he knew this was something he wanted to pursue.
Although this will be his first start in the coaching ranks, he has a strong foundation of past knowledge that he plans on continuing to share.
“We have a philosophy… to be 1% better each day,” said Wilkey Jr. “That’s one of the things that I learned on this team.”
Wilkey Jr. was a two-time captain, and helped the Pride become the first D-III school to qualify for NCAA nationals this past year, and has been doing gymnastics his whole life. His parents own a gym, and all he’s ever known is being in the gym and getting better each day. He feels that all of this will help him teach the next generation of Pride gymnasts.
“I always tried to lead by example in the gym,” Wilkey Jr. said. “[I’m just going to] share my personal experiences and what I’ve done on the team to help everybody else.”
Junior Kael Donley, who was named a captain for the first time for the upcoming season, said it has been great to see his former teammate now part of the coaching staff.
“For him to have that experience like, literally five months ago to where he can bring that now to the guys on the team now, I think that’s [huge],” said Donley.
With Wilkey Jr. recently graduating, he has the ability to relate to everyone on the team because he was just recently in their shoes.
“I really encourage the gymnasts [to be better],” said Wilkey Jr. “And not just gymnastics, but also academics too.”
Donley knew Wilkey would make a great coach because of his leadership skills throughout the previous two seasons as a captain.
“We knew he’d be a great leader,” Donley said. “He just knows what to say, when to say it and how to say it for us to understand.”
As Wilkey Jr. is getting ready to start his first season as an assistant, could eventually becoming a head coach be on the horizon?
“I honestly don’t know,” Wilkey Jr. said. “I think it would be something really cool though.”
Photo Courtesy Springfield College