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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Former Gymcat hired as coach

The Arizona women’s gymnastics team will welcome former UA All-American Randi Acosta to the coaching staff.

Acosta, formerly known as Randi Liljenquist, competed for the Gymcats from 1999-2002 and is widely regarded as one of the most talented gymnasts in UA history. Acosta was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference team four times during her career and was an All-American twice. Her career culminated with a Pac-10 championship victory on the floor exercise her senior year.

Head coach Bill Ryden, who coached Acosta when she was a Wildcat, is thrilled to bring her on staff

“”Her dancing ability and movement is just phenomenal and certainly puts her in a class that very few people reach,”” Ryden said. “”But she was also one of our very best gymnasts. She bleeds red and blue; she is a diehard wildcat. It was a perfect match. Her talent is something you don’t teach; it’s something you either got or you don’t got.””

With her rare talents as a competitor and her love for the Gymcats, she made her way to the top of Ryden’s wish list when a coaching vacancy opened up. Ryden did admit that he did not think he could get her to move down to Tucson with her family.

Ryden revealed that Acosta did apply for an assistant coaching job six years ago, but he felt like she was not ready.

Now, with coaching experience under her belt, a solid foundation and her own family, he believes that she is ready to help the Gymcats into the new season.

Ryden believes that Acosta’s experience as a Gymcat is a huge benefit for her and the team.

“”As a coach, being able to have someone that you coached start going up those ranks, of course you are going to feel proud,”” Ryden said. “”She knows this place, she knows this team, she knows me, she knows (assistant coach) John (Court). There is already a comfort factor, and she jumped in with both feet.””

Acosta will replace former assistant coach Colleen Johnson. Johnson spent six years as an assistant coach at Arizona and was responsible for choreographing the floor exercise and working with the beam team.

“”Colleen just had some personal opportunities,”” Ryden said. “”At this stage in her life she just felt that it was the best thing for her. She did a great job for us. I certainly have high respect for her talents and everything she has done.””

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