Coach Golder, Sam Mikulak and Syque Caesar give an in-depth look at the No. 2-ranked squad that was also picked to finish first in the Big Ten in 2013.
Kurt Golder enters his 18th season as the head coach for the men's gymnastics team at the University of Michigan. He is only the fourth coach in the program's 80-year history, following Wilbur West, the legendary Newt Loken and Bob Darden. A native of Alpena, Mich., Golder most recently led the Wolverines to the 2013 NCAA and Big Ten Championships, as well as NCAA and Big Ten titles in 1999. In addition to his smashing success in the 2013 season, he guided his squad to the 2009 Big Ten title and the 2010 NCAA team title. In the past 14 years, he has coached his teams to thirteen Super Six finishes at the NCAA Championships.
The last calendar year has been a whirlwind for Golder, which was topped off by being named the 2013 CGA National Coach of the Year, CGA Regional Coach of the Year, and Big Ten Coach of the Year after his squad tied a program record of 13 All-America citations at the NCAA meet, earned three NCAA Individual titles, four Big Ten Champions, and the Big Ten Gymnast of the Year in Sam Mikulak.
Overall, U-M earned a 27-2 overall record on the season, while.The margin of victory of 443.200-440.100 over second-place Oklahoma at NCAA's was the largest victory margin in 29 years.
At Big Ten's the team won its first non-shared conference championship since 2000 with a team score of 438.900, which was over four points better than second-place finisher Penn State (434.050), and was the fourth of Coach Golder's career. Mikulak, who won the all-around competition, gives U-M event winners in four of the last five years, (Thomas Kelley 2009, Chris Cameron 2010, Mikulak 2011), and became the second Wolverine to win a pair of all-around titles in his career. Additionally, U-M placed three gymnasts in the top-three in six events while winning floor (Ervin), parallel bars (Caesar) and high bar (Mikulak). The trio, along with de los Angeles, took home First Team All-Big Ten honors, while Mikulak was named Big Ten Gymnast of the Year for the second time in his career, and Kurt Golder took home his second Big Ten coach of the year honor.
During the regular season, U-M won five Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honors, two from de los Angeles, Caesar, Ervin, and Mikulak, and six College Gymnastics Association (CGA) Gymnasts of the Week, as de los Angeles took three awards, while Mikulak had two and Caesar pitched in another.
The recent success began in the summer of 2012, as he served as the primary coach for the first American Olympian in program history in Mikulak, who took fifth in the world on vault at the 2012 Olympic Games. Golder served as the primary coach for one of the most popular athletes in London, and was honored with the title of assistant coach for Team USA as a result.
After taking over a team that went 0-16 and finished last at the Big Ten Championships in 1996, Golder quickly developed and recruited the Wolverines into national prominence. The goals of his program are to consistently be in contention for the Big Ten and NCAA team titles, as well as to produce U.S. National Team members and Olympians. During his tenure with the Maize and Blue, Golder has coached 81 NCAA All-Americans and nine NCAA individual national champions, and has won two of U-M's four national titles (1963, '70, '99, 2010).
Golder has continued to turn out leading teams in the Big Ten conference producing four Big Ten team titles and 29 individual titles. Golder was awarded Big Ten Coach of the Year honors in 1999, 2000 and 2013, as well as being named the NCAA regional and national coach of the year in 1999, 2010, and 2013. Golder also mentored the 2000, 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013 Big Ten All-Around Champions and Big Ten Gymnasts of the Year; Scott Vetere, Justin Laury, Thomas Kelley, Chris Cameron, and Sam Mikulak (twice) respectively.
Last season, Golder guided the Wolverines to a sixth place finish at the NCAA Championships after winning session one at the NCAA Qualifier round with a season-high score of 353.450 to advance to the Super Six. In addition, he earned his 25th NCAA Champion, as Sam Mikulak won the NCAA high bar Championship with a 15.45. Additionally, Golder aided in guiding Mikulak to All-America honors on parallel bars, high bar, and all-around competition, while freshman Stacey Ervin earned accolades on floor exercise (third) and vault (fourth). The Wolverines took second at the Big Ten Championships behind Illinois, marking the fourth straight season the Wolverines have collected a runner-up finish. Individually, Mikulak, the United States Senior National Team member, became the first Wolverine gymnast to win a pair of Big Ten titles (parallel bars, high bar) since Scott Vetere in 2000. Freshman Adrian de los Angeles also earned First-Team All-Big Ten accolades after placing fifth in the all-around competition.
The 2011 season saw Golder lead the Wolverines to a fifth place finish at NCAA Championships and a runner-up finish at the Big Ten Championships. Freshman Sam Mikulak took the All-Around title at NCAA's and Big Ten's and was named Big Ten Freshman and Gymnast of the Year. Additionally, senior Ian Makowske (high bar) and Syque Caesar (parallel bars) won individual event titles at Big Ten's.
Golder stresses the importance of community service while maintaining a high GPA to his student athletes, and the team has been recognized for such efforts. In 2010 the team had the highest team-GPA out of all men's gymnastics teams in the NCAA. In 2005-06, the squad earned the Rachael Townsend Community Service Award, and in 2007-08 and 2008-09, it received an accolade for having the highest GPA of any U-M male athletic team. Also during 2010 season, Golder produced ten student-athletes earning College Gymnastics Association academic All-America honors. After graduating from Michigan in 1977 with his Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Education, Golder began his teaching and coaching career at Ann Arbor Huron High School where he taught and coached from 1976-79. Golder led the River Rats to claim the 1979 state championship title. Golder returned to the Big Ten in 1979 as an assistant coach at Michigan State University, a position he held until 1984. From 1984-91, he was the boys' program director and head coach of Genesee Valley Gymnastics in Flint, Mich., one of the nation's most successful boys' gymnastics clubs. During his duration at GVG, Golder was also a member of the Junior National coaching staff for USA Gymnastics.
In 1991, Golder joined the University of Iowa staff as an assistant coach. He was with the Hawkeye program until his appointment as the Wolverine head coach in July of 1996. International coaching appointments have taken Golder to Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Israel, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Belgium, Puerto Rico, Thailand and South Korea. He served as coach for the U.S. team at the 1995 World University Games in Fukuoka, Japan; the 1997 World University Games in Sicily; the 2003 World University Games team in Daegu, South Korea; and the 2007 World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. He also coached the 1999 Chunichi Cup team in Nagoya, Japan, and the 2001 Pan-Am Championship team in Cancun, Mexico. He served as a personal coach to former Wolverine gymnast Daniel Diaz-Luong at the 2001 World Championships in Ghent, Belgium.
Golder was a three-time letterwinner in gymnastics (1975-77) and a member of Michigan's 1975 Big Ten Championship team. In 2008, Golder was inducted into the Alpena High School Alumni Hall of Fame, and in 2001 he was inducted into Alpena Sports Hall of Fame. Golder has an 19-year old daughter, Roberta, who is a currently a freshman at U-M.