Gymnastics head coach shifts part of unexpected ending to season

OSU Gymnastics interim head coach Michael Chaplin congratulates an OSU gymnast against Stanford in his first meet leading the team on Feb. 2. Chaplin, husband of OSU Gymnastics head coach Tanya Chaplin, filled in while his wife took a leave of absence for health reasons.

Oregon State Gymnastics faced coaching changes and uncertainty before the COVID-19 crisis brought along an abrupt stop to the team’s season.  

Head coach Tanya Chaplin announced she would be taking a leave of absence due to health reasons on Jan. 30. OSU Athletics appointed associate head coach and husband to Tanya, Michael Chaplin, as acting head coach while his wife focused on her recovery.

The notice of the coaching change came days before the Oregon State Gymnastics team was set to take on the No. 2 Louisiana State Tigers and the Arizona State Sun Devils in a tri-meet. 

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Michael Chaplin led the Oregon State gymnastics team through a successful season. The Beavers defeated the No.22 Arizona Wildcats and the Stanford Cardinal. Oregon State had narrow losses to the No. 2 LSU Tigers and the No. 3 UCLA Bruins. 

The Beavers finished the season ranked No. 15 in the country. Chaplin also worked to continue the family atmosphere that Tanya created for every meet. 

Oregon State was scheduled to face off against No. 24 Illinois for senior night at Gill Coliseum on March 14. But then, the NCAA announced that both winter sports and spring sports would have to end their seasons immediately. As a result, the meet never happened, and the Beavers never got the chance to finish their season or compete at the PAC-12 championships. 

“It was a very difficult and emotional time for this team and staff,” Chaplin said. “We had been working very hard and were excited to compete at PAC-12 Championships, NCAA Regional Championships and hopefully return to NCAA Championships. But it quickly became clear that this pandemic was very serious and in the best interest of everyone, [was] to discontinue the 2020 season.” 

On March 30, the NCAA announced that student-athletes in spring sports would receive an extra year of eligibility, but student-athletes in winter sports would not. The decision posed a difficult reality for the eight seniors on the gymnastics team, including Isis Lowery, who was known for her floor routine, and Lacy Dagen, who was known for her beam and vault routines. 

“The NCAA has decided to not grant winter sports an extra year of eligibility, which is disappointing because several gymnasts indicated that they would like another year,” Chaplin said. 

To maintain the family connection that the gymnastics team has with one another, Chaplin said that the team is still trying to stay in contact. 

“We will be having regular zoom meetings with the team, but we are not allowed to conduct any online workouts,” Chaplin said. 

Despite the pandemic, Chaplin remains positive for the next season, saying that there will approximately 18-20 gymnasts on the team. 

Now that his wife Tanya has announced that as of April 1 she will be returning to full duty as head Oregon State gymnastics coach, the couple will return to their respective positions to lead the team after an unprecedented 2019-20 season.