Utah’s Newest Coaching Additions

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Jose Alex Garcia

(Graphic by Jose Alex Garcia | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sean Overton, Sports Writer

 

Last year, the University of Utah athletics program, along with every other collegiate program in the nation, experienced a year like no other due to COVID-19. After one of the most interesting sports years to date, several of the teams saw changes in their coaching staff. Notably, the athletics program added new coaches in soccer, gymnastics, baseball and basketball. Of course, high expectations come with big changes like these, but the future of Utah athletics looks just a little bit brighter.

Soccer — Hideki Nakada 

With Rich Manning stepping down as the women’s soccer head coach, Hideki Nakada has been named to fill the position. Nakada was a coach at Stanford for the previous seven seasons and was an associate head coach with the program for the last three. His job with Utah will be his first-ever head coaching position in collegiate athletics.

During his time at Stanford, he helped guide the team to two National Championships, in 2017 and 2019. The team also won five consecutive Pac-12 championships from 2015 to 2019 and compiled a record of 132-15-10. His career started at Idaho State from 2006 to 2008. He then moved on to Marquette from 2009 to 2012, guiding them to the NCAA Tournament all four years as well as the team’s first-ever Big East Tournament Championship in 2012. He then spent a season with Oregon as the team’s defensive coach and recruiting coordinator before going to Stanford.

Gymnastics — Jimmy Pratt and Myia Hambrick 

The Red Rocks had a phenomenal 2020-21 season, finishing third at the NCAA Championship. The team scored 197.9875, their highest score of the season as well as the program’s highest team score in a National Championship meet.

Despite the season being filled with worries about COVID-19, the team was relatively unaffected and still performed at a high level. The program looks to build on last season’s success by adding Jimmy Pratt and Myia Hambrick to the coaching staff.

Pratt was with Denver prior to coming to Utah. He was Denver’s primary vault and floor coach for the past two seasons, guiding them to a top-10 ranking on the vault during the 2020 season, and on the floor in the 2021 season. He spent 18 years at All American Gymnastics in Lindon, Utah before going to Denver. Pratt will serve as Utah’s primary vault coach.

Myia Hambrick is a former LSU standout and served as a Junior Olympics Optional Coach at Georgia Elite Gymnastics. She was responsible for four 2019 Junior Olympics Championship qualifiers, as well as a 2021 Nastia Liukin Cup qualifier. She also coached several 2021 regional qualifiers during her time there. She will assist in coaching floor as well as choreographing routines as a volunteer assistant coach.

The Red Rocks didn’t let the pandemic slow their pace, and they plan on improving even more next season with the addition of new coaches and gymnasts.

Baseball — Gary Henderson

Gary Henderson — one of the most successful coaches in the University of Kentucky’s baseball history — has been named as the University of Utah’s new head baseball coach.

After going 6-7 during the shortened 2020 season because of COVID-19, Utah baseball wasn’t able to hold that pace the following year. Utah went 17-33 last season, including a measly 7-21 on the road. With the season ending, former head coach Bill Kinneberg retired after 18 seasons with Utah.

Henderson will be taking over for Kinneberg after two seasons as Utah’s associate head coach. Henderson has also coached at Florida, Oregon State, Kentucky and Mississippi State. Henderson collected a number of accolades during his coaching career, including winning NCBWA National Coach of the Year with Mississippi State. During his time at Kentucky, the program set a record for total wins in a season on three separate occasions, won at least 30 games in five straight seasons, became No. 1 in the nation for the first time and Henderson was the fastest head coach in Kentucky history to reach 200 wins.

Basketball — Craig Smith

The University of Utah basketball program had a rough 2020-21 season, posting their first losing record since 2013. Shortly thereafter, head coach Larry Krystkowiak was relieved from his position after 10 years with the program.

Historically, Utah has been a relatively good team, but they have gone downhill in recent years. Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan believed it was time for a change and went to work right away, hiring Craig Smith, then Utah State’s head basketball coach.

Smith compiled a record of 74-24 during his time with the Aggies. Despite losing a lot of players in the transfer portal, Smith has been able to grab Utah many transfers of their own including David Jenkins Jr., Bostyn Holt and Both Gach.

“This program has a rich tradition of excellence in the history of college basketball,” Smith said. “Our facilities are state-of-the-art and first-class in every way. Our fan base has tremendous energy, knowledge and passion. We can’t wait to pack the Huntsman Center, feed off the energy of The MUSS and bring a consistent winner back to the U!”

 

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