EAST LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan State University Athletics Director Mark Hollis announced Monday the hiring of Mike Rowe as the new head gymnastics coach, effective July 1, 2017. Rowe, a Spartan graduate who has spent the last three seasons as assistant coach, was named interim head coach in February.
“As in all hires, doing what is in the best interest of the student-athletes is our top priority,” Hollis said. “In this case, that meant listening to the student-athletes and doing what was in the best interest for the program. In his stint as interim coach, Mike Rowe has guided our gymnasts to success academically, athletically and socially. They’ve shown great enthusiasm for Coach Rowe. Mike is a Spartan alum with tremendous passion for his alma mater. He does everything with the best interest of Spartan student-athletes in mind.”
“I am truly honored and would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Athletics Director, Mark Hollis, Executive Associate Athletics Director, Shelley Appelbaum and Associate Athletics Director, Richard Bader, for their support of me for the head coach position for Michigan State University gymnastics,” Rowe said. “I am excited for this new journey with MSU gymnastics.”
Hollis also announced that Nicole Curler has been promoted to associate head coach.
“I’m thrilled that Nicole Curler has been promoted from assistant coach to associate head coach. Together, we believe that we have a team of intelligent young student-athletes with the passion, athleticism, leadership and heart to establish a culture which will elevate Spartan Gymnastics to a top tier program,” Rowe said.
Curler is also an MSU alum and a former Spartan standout gymnast, and has been an assistant coach for six seasons after serving as MSU’s volunteer assistant in 2011.
“Being a Michigan State alum and a former Spartan gymnastics student-athlete, to be able to advance my career as the associate head coach means the world to me,” Curler said. “The opportunity to help Mike lead this program is really exciting. It is a great time to be a Spartan with some of the talented gymnasts we have returning plus promising student-athletes we have coming in over the next few years. I know this program is going to continue to improve and I’m really excited to be a part of that.”
Rowe has spent the last three seasons as assistant coach at his alma mater, joining the coaching staff in 2014. He was an integral part in returning Spartan gymnastics team to NCAA postseason competition in 2015, placing fourth at the Iowa State Regional and ending the season with a No. 26 national ranking.
During his time with the Spartans, Rowe has mentored seven All-Big Ten award honorees, including two in 2017 in seniors Nicola Deans and Kira Frederick. Rowe also coached three Big Ten Co-Champions on floor in 2017, as Deans, Frederick and fellow senior Elana Lagoski become the first Big Ten individual champions for the Spartans since 2006.
MSU tied for the most on the Big Ten Championship team with four gymnasts in Deans, Frederick, Lagoski and junior Hailee Westney, in helping the Spartans win the first session of the Big Ten Championships, finishing sixth as a team for MSU’s highest finish since 2010. Additionally, the team posted a 49.475 on floor, tying the program’s highest floor score. The 49.475 was also the single-highest event total of any team on any apparatus at the 2017 Big Ten Championships.
In addition to Michigan State qualifying for the NCAA Regionals as a team in both 2015 and 2016, the Spartans sent five individuals to regionals in 2017. Deans competed in the all-around competition, Lagoski and Frederick represented the Spartans on the floor, while Westney and junior Lindsey Lemke competed on the uneven bars. In 2016, Rowe helped coach Lisa Burt to the NCAA National Championships as an all-arounder, as MSU’s first National Championships appearance since 2010.
A native of Lowell, Michigan, Rowe earned his bachelor’s of science degree in landscape architecture from MSU in 1985 and was a member of the cheer squad. In 2013, Rowe received his master’s in coaching and athletic administration from Concordia University.
Rowe returned to MSU following nine years at the University of Pittsburgh, where he served as assistant coach with primary focus on the uneven bars and recruiting coordinator. While there, he was a two-time Northeast Region Assistant Coach of the Year and coached two East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) bar champions, three EAGL Rookies of the Year and numerous NCAA Regional Qualifier on bars.
Curler helps coordinate team practices, team schedules and competition line-up selections for the Spartans. The Bay City, Michigan native also assisted with choreography of all the team’s balance beam and floor exercise routines. She also maintains the program’s social media channels.
Under her tutelage in 2017, three Spartans were co-Big Ten Champions on floor, Deans, Frederick and Lagoski posted 9.925’s to become the first Spartans to win an individual Big Ten Championship since 2006 and the first MSU Big Ten champions on floor since 1988.
Curler also coached three of the five Spartans that qualified for NCAA Regionals as individuals, as Deans competed in the all-around competition, while Lagoski and Frederick were on floor. During Curler’s short tenure as an assistant coach, MSU has qualified for NCAA Regionals four times, and she has coached 10 All-Big Ten gymnasts.
During her career as an MSU gymnast, Curler was the Spartans’ 2010 team MVP, was a two-time Big Ten Gymnast of the Week honoree, and was a member of the team’s leadership committee. She qualified for the 2010 NCAA Championships after finishing fourth in the all-around at the NCAA Kentucky Regional with a score of 39.175.
Curler was the first Michigan State gymnast to be a four-time All-Big Ten honoree. She ranks second all-time in program history with a 39.525 all-around score against LSU on Feb. 29, 2008. Curler also has the third-best score on the vault with a 9.925 against Oklahoma on Feb. 26, 2010. Other program ranks included ninth on the balance beam (9.925 on four occasions) and fifth on the floor exercise with a 9.950 against Florida on March 16, 2007.
Curler earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies - human resources from MSU in 2010.