Shannon Welker Press Conference Quotes

MUTIGERS.COM Shannon Welker
Shannon Welker

May 10, 2013

Athletics Director Mike Alden

On the goals of the Missouri Gymnastics program...
"There is a lot of history with our gymnastics program. I think folks in this room know that. The tradition that was established under the tutelage of Jake Jacobson, and certainly all the work he did, the countless hours he put into our gymnastics program here at Mizzou is one that all of us continue to reap the benefits from. We reap the benefits all the great work Rob Drass did here for 14 years as our head gymnastics coach and we appreciate those efforts from Jake and from Rob and from our staffs and all the student-athletes that have been here for so many years to help build our program. Today, that gives us an opportunity to be able to build on those successes and build on those traditions and raise them to an even higher level. And that's our goal, that's our effort, and that's what we're committed to do. The move to the SEC certainly has continued to elevate the need for all of us, and we talk about the need for all of us to continue to step up on a regular basis. We realize that in our business that it gives us chances to improve on the opportunities that we have for our student-athletes and that we have as an institution."

On SEC Gymnastics...
"The SEC is clearly the strongest conference in America in gymnastics, and there's no question about that. Four of the top six teams in the finals of this years NCAA championships all came from the SEC. We're excited to be a part of that league and we're excited to be a program to continue to elevate the reputation of that league as we go forward."

_________________________________________________________________________________ Deputy Athletic Director Doug Gillin

On what he learned through the coaching search...
"As the process went on, some of the top names just kept popping up to the top and one of them was Shannon (Welker) and we're going to talk about him here in a minute. The gymnastics community, they all wanted Mizzou to be successful and that was the thing I took away from it all. I really came away from this search having a greater appreciation for all the coaches and all the people who are involved with the sport gymnastics across the country. They really just wanted Mizzou to hire the right person and I think we really did that."



On what Mizzou was looking for during the process...
"What we were looking for when we started the process, we wanted somebody that would fit academically and come from an institution that has the same academic standards as Mizzou. We really wanted somebody that has recruited the type of athletes that we have to recruit here at Missouri academically. And certainly the University of Michigan is one of those institutions. We really talked a lot in our athletics department about transitional coaching versus transactional coaching. We wanted somebody that was really invested in our student-athletes and the mentorship of our student-athletes. Not just during the time that they're in the gym but the time they are in school and certainly the time that there out and graduated from the University of Missouri. We wanted somebody that could recruit. I think in this sport and I think our team will agree that you need somebody that is connected on the recruiting trail and the clubs across the country and verbatim from everybody we talked. We got one of the top, if not the top, recruiters in America to come here. We wanted somebody that had a history of success. If you look at the 2013 NCAA Championships, Shannon was able to coach the NCAA floor champion from this past National Championship competition. So that was just one example, the University of Michigan has been to three of the last five nationals, won two regional championships since he's been there. And last but not least, he wanted to be here. We wanted someone who wanted to be at Mizzou long-term. You know, obviously Molly and Shannon both being from Saint Louis, we talked about it and that's great and we talked about it even today and this is a great job. And we wanted somebody that wanted to be here. So there's a process that brought us all here today, announcing to you our new head gymnastics coach, Shannon Welker"

___________________________________________________________________________________ Head Coach Shannon Welker

On how it feels to be taking over at Mizzou...

"Well, I'm pretty excited about it. It's a great opportunity obviously. I mean we have all the resources here at Mizzou to compete with anybody in the country, so it really is a fantastic opportunity."

His thoughts on returning to his home state of Missouri ...

"Well we always hoped this opportunity might present itself, quite honestly. And I think every coach has that dream job and really this is mine. So, boy, it really is a fantastic opportunity and it's really has come at a great time, not only for my family but in my life. I'm really hitting my stride, so I'm really excited."

On improving from last year's record in the tough SEC...

"You have to be realistic. I mean it's definitely challenging, but we certainly can get better regardless of the conference and in the country I think we certainly have the opportunity to push year-in-and-year-out to get to NCAA championships. It's going to take a little time but I think we will get there."

On what he thinks he can do to make the program improve and become more competitive...

"I think the number one thing we're going to do is make sure we create a very positive culture; what I call a championship culture, and make sure it's a consistent culture. We will just provide some good leadership and structure. I think for the young ladies on the team, it will be beneficial to embrace that and move forward. And then number two, we're going to be very aggressive with our recruiting and make sure we're getting some of the kids and making sure as we recruit that those kids are able to help us achieve some of the goals that we've set forth".

On his first meeting with the team before the press conference...

"What a fantastic group of young ladies. I think they're ready for the challenge. I think they want the challenge. And certainly they have the talent to improve from past seasons. I think they're excited and I enjoyed speaking with them."

On what he said to the team in their first meeting...

"I talked to them just a little bit about my background and I really opened it up more for questions from them. I wanted them to be able to kind of interview me. The search committee already got to do that so I felt they had a right to do that. We just talked a little bit about what my visions were, what some of the things that it was going to take to change, similar what you guys are asking me. I think they really embraced that and I feel we got a little half-hour break there and we just talked again and I could tell they were excited about what we had just discussed"

On what it is like coming into a gymnastics program that has had several regional appearances in the past...

"I wanted to make sure that whatever move I made in the coaching chain that it was a program that had tools to succeed. Mizzou obviously has that. They have a beautiful training facility. The University itself with its name allows us to do that. And the campus is beautiful and they have the resources in many other ways to make us competitive. And you know that's why I think Mizzou can win, and that's really why I came here because they have those things in place and really we have a great opportunity to go upward and onward."

His previous experience with Missouri both in recruiting and competing...

"I know we competed against them a few times, and it's great being back. I have some real nice ties here in Missouri. I did some developmental work and ran a club program in Missouri for about 10 years. So during that time I was able to interact with the community and build some strong tries. And I've been able to build upon those now that I've been in collegiate gymnastics and been recruiting quite a bit, it's just enhanced that ability."

___________________________________________________________________________________ Senior Tori Howard

On what the whole process of finding a new has been like for her...

"Well I'm a senior so I'm done. But I know it's been stressful on all the girls. It's been a little bit of a weird time but I know they had faith in the administration and they knew that whatever they were going to do was for the best. There was a little bit of anxiety but also trust in whatever was going to happen."

On what Coach Welker (her first coach in gymnastics) had previously taught her before coming to Mizzou...

"Well he taught me to twist my vault, which I did all of college. He was the one that taught me how to do basically everything on vault. Vault was a lot of it, he was my first coach."

On any specific discipline Coach Welker specializes in...

"Not too laid back but not too strict either. I mean he knows how to find the balance between what works for each person and how he needs to handle himself with each gymnast, so I always think that's good; if you know you have to be a little sterner with one person and you can relax a little bit with another. I think he kind of has that balance that helps them to do well"

______________________________________________________________________________ Sophomore Rachel Updike

On her thoughts of Coach Welker...

"He did recruit me. I mean from what we learned in the meeting he seems very easy-going. He brought up that he is a very good communicator and that he likes to make sure everyone is on the same page. He's very organized, he's going to have set schedules and everything, but I think that's what we need to go to higher places."

On the team's involvement with the athletic administration during the process for a new head coach...

"They were with us the whole way. They sent us e-mails, we had meetings with them. They really filled us in with everything they could. They didn't give us direct names of the people interviewing, but they did keep us up to date. They gave us a head's up if a press release was going to come out or things like that. So we knew stuff before the community knew."

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