The Making of Megan Marsden: From Beam Queen to Co-head Coach


Kiffer Creveling

The University of Utah Women’s Gymnastics Co-head coach Megan Marsden gets emotional during senior Baely Rowe’s final floor routine in a meet with Stanford at the John M. Huntsman Center on Friday, March 3, 2017

By Carra McManamon

As a gymnast, Megan Marsden guided the University of Utah women’s gymnastics program to four national championships. It was only fitting that when her time as a gymnast was up, she would assume a coaching position for the Red Rocks.

In 1985, Marsden moved from “beam queen” to beam coach when she applied and received the job as the assistant gymnastics coach at the U. As coach, she has helped Utah gymnasts earn 196 All-American Awards.

Former Red Rock and All-American gymnast Baely Rowe, who is now learning from Marsden on the coaching level, said Marsden doesn’t get enough credit for the motherly guidance she provides for the team.

“It’s just incredible what she does and what she did as an athlete and now to be able to kind of perform that as a coach is incredible,” Rowe said. “I’m sure all the athletes can say the same thing. She’s been a mom-figure and she always helps us through a lot of things.”

Rowe calls working beside Marsden on beam an incredible experience. Rowe, who competed with the Red Rocks for four years, is now learning what it takes to be a Pac-12 and nationally ranked caliber coach.

“What I’ve learned from her … is that the mind is a beautiful thing,” Rowe said.

Being able to win the mental game throughout a beam routine and not getting stuck “in your head” is a hard feat to accomplish. Marsden helps the gymnasts gain the mental strength to stop allowing little things affect their routines.

Rowe recalls Marsden was the coach who would calm the Red Rocks down before a beam routine as she would offer words of encouragement. For Rowe, just seeing Marsden made her more comfortable as an athlete. Marsden’s biggest piece of advice for someone looking to get into coaching is to surround yourself with people who help cover up weaknesses.

Current Red Rock MyKayla Skinner also alluded to Rowe’s point of Marsden resembling a mother-like figure. Skinner feels lucky the gymnastics program has a coaching staff that includes people like Marsden.

“It’s so cool knowing that she was a Utah Ute. It’s cool to have her here helping us,” Skinner said. “She was a beam queen, a gymnastics queen — so amazing and talented. It’s just [great] to be able to have her help us reach our goals. She wants the best for us, and she’s just always there like a mom. It’s really awesome to still have her here.”

As her gymnasts have described, Mardsen is the nurturer within the coaching staff, and her motherly instincts have developed from her time as an athlete and as a mother to two sons. As a coach, the thing she enjoys most is being a part of her athletes’ lives, both inside and outside of the gym.

“I like that [in] coaching the collegiate gymnasts there is more to it than just gymnastics,” Marsden said. “We’re involved in all aspects of their lives, academics and social. … We’re a family, [and] helping kind of manage that and guide them through some of those life lessons that get them prepared for life after gymnastics [is what] I enjoy the most.”

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