The UCLA Bruins gymnastics program took a major step toward trying to repair itself on Monday after scandal rocked it away from competition and struggles occurred in it.
The Bruins announced that they have hired Cal Golden Bears assistant Janelle McDonald as head coach after Chris Waller resigned on April 19.
Please welcome to Westwood, our new head coach Janelle McDonald (@Janel2001)! Janelle was a two-time Regional Assistant Coach of the Year at @CalWGym.— UCLA Gymnastics (@uclagymnastics) May 10, 2022
ℹ: https://t.co/j5FRvy2nAQ pic.twitter.com/xOYpkyogLX
McDonald will arrive in Westwood after four seasons at Cal, a period which saw the Golden Bears become a contender in the Pac-12 Conference and then share the conference championship in 2022 — their first-ever Pac-12 crown.
They then took seventh at nationals, tied for their highest finish ever.
McDonald has been Cal’s uneven bars coach, and that group has been among the elite in the country over the past two seasons under her watch.
In 2021, it tied the NCAA record for highest score ever with a 49.825. Incidentally, that came against UCLA.
McDonald takes over for Waller, who failed to lead the Bruins past regionals even once after decades of consistency under legendary head coach Valorie Kondos Field, who retired in 2019.
Not only did UCLA struggle in the gym under Waller, but the program was in the middle of controversy throughout the 2022 season amidst allegations that former gymnast Alexis Jeffrey used racist language and the coaching staff and administration did not respond forcefully enough.