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Carly Dockendorf has interim tag lifted, is named Utah gymnastics’ new head coach

Dockendorf, formerly the program’s interim head coach, has signed a 4-year deal to lead the Red Rocks through 2027

SHARE Carly Dockendorf has interim tag lifted, is named Utah gymnastics’ new head coach

Utah gymnastics assistant coach Carly Dockendorf high-fives gymnast Emilie LeBlanc before she competes on the beam during the Red Rocks Preview gymnastics event at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City on Friday, Dec. 13, 2019.

Colter Peterson, Deseret News

The Carly Dockendorf era of Utah gymnastics has arrived.

Dockendorf, formerly the interim head coach of the Red Rocks following Tom Farden parting ways with the team, has been named the outright head coach of the storied program, agreeing to a four-year deal through the 2027 season.

“Carly is a tremendous leader who cares deeply about the student-athletes in our gymnastics program and is the perfect person to be the program’s next head coach,” Utah athletic director Mark Harlan said in a statement. “She has played an instrumental role in the successes of our program in recent years and has guided student-athletes to multiple All-America honors. Carly is highly respected in the gymnastics coaching community and her track record shows a deep commitment to helping student-athletes reach their potential and pursue greatness.

“She embodies all the characteristics necessary to lead one of the sport’s most storied programs, and I have no doubt that she will continue to elevate the program to new heights, producing results in competition, in the classroom and in our community that our fans and alumni can be proud of. I am excited to see Carly take the reins of this program.”

Dockendorf is the first solo female head coach in Utah gymnastics history, and the fourth coach ever to lead the Red Rocks following Greg Marsden, co-head coach Megan Marsden and Farden.

She takes over a program that has been rocked with change this offseason, after multiple now-former Utah gymnasts and parents alleged abuse by Farden. Those allegations spurred the University of Utah to hire a third-party law firm, Husch Blackwell, to investigate the program, as first reported by the Deseret News.

The investigation determined that Farden did not engage in “any severe, pervasive or egregious” acts of emotional, verbal, or physical abuse or harassment as defined by NCAA regulations and the U.S. Center for SafeSport.

Following the release of Husch Blackwell’s investigation, however, two former Red Rocks — Olympian Kara Eaker and All-American Kim Tessen — went public with additional abuse allegations. Eaker left the program and retired from the sport altogether.

Farden and Utah ultimately decided that the head coach should leave the program, after he was placed on administrative leave for “recent conduct and actions by Coach Farden not related to student-athlete welfare, which simply do not align with our values and expectations,” per a Nov. 12 statement from Utah Athletics.

“The past several months have been an extremely challenging time for our gymnastics program,” Harlan said at the time of Farden’s departure. “Changes like this are never easy, and only come after extensive analysis and discussion. In this case, the decision provides necessary clarity and stability for our student-athletes and prevents further distraction from their upcoming season.”

A one-time volunteer assistant coach at Utah, beginning in 2018, Dockendorf quickly rose to prominence on Farden’s and Megan Marsden’s coaching staff, and then just Farden’s staff, and was named associate head coach of the program in 2022.

“It is a dream come true to be named the new head coach of the Utah gymnastics family and lead this spectacular program into the future,” Dockendorf said in a statement. “I am so grateful to President Taylor Randall, our athletics leadership of Mark Harlan and Charmelle Green, and the Utah administrative team for trusting me to lead the Red Rocks.

“The legacy that has been built will continue to hold our program at the most elite level of expectation and standard every day. We will continue building upon the foundation of excellence, and developing not only world-class gymnasts but women who will leave this program believing in themselves and ready to impact the world around them. This team is full of courage, tenacity and strength, and I am truly excited to have this opportunity to work alongside them and celebrate their brilliant talent with the No. 1 fans in the country.”

A former collegiate gymnast herself at the University of Washington — she was also a pole vaulter on the Huskies’ track team — Dockendorf has coached gymnastics off and on since 2007.

She was an assistant coach at Seattle Pacific — a Division II program — at points from 2009 through 2017, before joining Utah’s program.

While at Seattle Pacific, Dockendorf served as the team’s vault and floor coach, floor choreographer, recruiting coordinator and strength and conditioning coach.

Starting out primarily as a floor exercise choreographer with the Red Rocks, Dockendorf quickly became one of the best, if not the best, balance beam coaches in the country.

During the past four years, with Dockendorf coaching the apparatus, Utah has had the No. 2, No. 3, No. 1 and No. 1-ranked beam lineup in the country, with gymnasts like Eaker, Maile O’Keefe, Abby Paulson, Cristal Isa and Grace McCallum competing at historic levels.

O’Keefe, in particular, became the best beam competitor in Utah history, becoming the school record holder for both perfect 10s on beam in a season (six) and in a career (10).

Dockendorf officially takes over the program just before the 2024 season. The annual Red Rocks Preview is scheduled to be held on Friday, Dec. 15, in the Huntsman Center on the campus of the University of Utah.

The 2024 season officially begins Jan. 5, when Utah hosts Boise State at 7 p.m. MST.