Gail Goodspeed, now in her 35th season as the UNH head coach, has helped create one of the strongest programs in New England. The Wildcats have a tradition of sustained success as a top-tier team in the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) and a perennial competitor in the NCAA Regional Championship while maintaining rigorous academic standards among the highest in the nation.
In 2012, the Wildcats advanced to the AIAW/NCAA postseason for the 32nd time in Goodspeed’s 33 years at the helm wehen they competed at the Fayetteville Regional at the University of Arkansas. UNH completed the season ranked 31st in the nation. Austyn Fobes (bars), Kayla Gray (beam) and Danielle Reibold (bars) were each named to the 2012 All-EAGL First Team. Co-captain Ali Carr (vault, beam) and Jillian Hudson (vault) were both selected to the All-EAGL Second Team. Academically, the Wildcats garnered an Academic Progress Rate Public Recognition Award for the fourth consecutive year as one of only 16 Division I programs in the nation, one of only three New England schools (Brown, Yale) and one of only two EAGL programs (Rutgers) to be feted. The Wildcats ranked third among all New England programs with a cumulative 3.2232 GPA, which trailed only Ivy League schools Brown and Yale. Reibold, a biomedical science major, became the first Wildcat to ever be named the EAGL Scholar-Athlete of the Year. The four-time EAGL All-Academic Team member and four-time NACGC/W Scholastic All-American was the first ‘Cat gymnast to be commended as a league’s top scholar-athlete since Nicole Mullins won the ECAC Academic Gymnast of the Year award in 1993.
Goodspeed’s successful track record includes five NCAA Northeast Region Head Coach of the Year awards, most recently in 2008. Previous honors were bestowed in 1991, 1994, 2001 and 2003, when she was also named the EAGL Coach of the Year.
Several of Goodspeed’s athletes and teams have been part of UNH history-making performances. In 2006, senior captain Amanda Hall was the Northeast Regional Floor Champion and took third in the all-around. This qualified her for the NCAA National Championship, making her the seventh individual from UNH to earn such high honors. At the Championship, her score of 9.8 on vault narrowly missed qualifying her as an All-American. During the 2005 campaign, Amanda Hall and Mariana Peña Trestini scored a 9.975 on the floor exercise in the regular season, setting the new UNH record. In 2005 postseason action, Vanessa Berrios shared the Northeast Regional Balance Beam title with a score of 9.85, earning her a spot at the NCAA National Championship as the sixth individual to represent UNH. The 2003 Wildcats captured their first-ever EAGL Championship with a UNH school-record team total of 196.75. At the same competition, Tara Phillips vaulted perfectly, scoring her first ever 10.0, permanently etching her name among the University’s all-time greats.
Goodspeed has guided the Wildcats to four ECAC Championships, appearances in 30 NCAA Regional Championships and two AIAW Regional Championships (prior to NCAA sponsorship) while building a 515-276-2 record. The ‘Cats won the 1994 NCAA Northeast Regional Championship and competed at the NCAA Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah. UNH finished that season as the 12th-ranked team in the country. In addition to the team qualification to the national championship, individuals have represented UNH at the national championship 11 different times during Goodspeed’s tenure.
“It has always been our goal to help each student-athlete strive to reach her full potential and accomplish this in a positive atmosphere. When this occurs, the team is successful and it’s fun for everyone,” Goodspeed states.
Goodspeed earned a doctorate from the School of Education at Boston University in 1984. She has used this education to enhance the quality of the experience of practicing and competing. Her dissertation involved development and implementation of a comprehensive sport psychology program for female gymnasts. Aspects of the program are incorporated into the training plan at UNH. “We try to focus on those things over which we have control, including our own response to and perception of stressful situations. Training is intense and our team members are dedicated to each other and to the goal of achieving excellence,” Goodspeed says.
Much of the strength and success of the UNH gymnastics program lies with the stability and dedication of the coaching staff. Goodspeed is married to associate head coach Ed Datti (32nd year/30th full time), and together, with additional assistants and support staff, they have developed one of the most respected programs in the Northeast. The staff added former Cal gymnast Jess Kelley as an assistant coach last season; Datti and Kelley combined to win the EAGL Assistant Coach of the Year and NCAA Northeast Regional Assistant Coach of the Year in 2012.
A collegiate competitor from 1970-74 at Springfield College, Goodspeed captained the team her senior year and was a member of two AIAW National Championship teams. She was assistant coach for her alma mater in 1974-75 when the team placed 4th at the National Championship. Goodspeed was inducted into the Springfield College Hall of Fame in October 2002. She has served as treasurer of the National Coaches Association and served on the NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Committee. She was head coach of California State-Northridge for two years and was also a business manager and coach at the Montvale Gymnastics Club. Goodspeed holds a master’s degree from Springfield and earned a doctorate in Sports Psychology from Boston University.
She and Ed have two daughters, 23-year-old Samantha and 19-year-old Brianna. Samantha graduated summa cum laude from Keene State College with a degree in Environmental Studies in May 2011. She was a four-year member of the Keene State volleyball team and captain for the last two seasons. Her Owls won the 2010 ECAC Tournament for the first time in school history. Brianna is a sophomore at the University of Connecticut, where she is enrolled in the environmental honors program and is a defensive specialist for the Huskies volleyball team. As a senior at Oyster River High School, she was the class valedictorian and was named the 2010 Division II Player of the Year for the second straight season after serving as the star libero and helping the Bobcats claim their first state championship since 1996. Goodspeed is a native of Kohler, Wis.