Debbie Yohman enters her 27th season as the head coach of Pitt's gymnastics program. Throughout her career, she has enjoyed many individual record-breaking moments and tremendous team accomplishments. Coach Yohman has worked tirelessly for nearly three decades to help mold young women from this university into fierce competitors and productive members of society. The fruits of her labor, both in and out of the gym, have come in many forms, including quality recruits from Olympic-caliber gyms and an ever-increasing amount of national recognition for the program. These successes have Yohman, and everyone associated with Pitt gymnastics excited for the program's bright future.
Last season, Yohman's squad had some of the top performances in school history, which include a floor score of 49.30 against Penn State on March 11, 2012, which is fifth all-time in the Pitt record books. Additionally, the team's 195.375 score in the EAGL Championships is seventh all-time and the Panthers' uneven bars score of 49.00 against Kentucky and Auburn on Feb. 24 is listed in a tie for 10th.
Also in 2012, rookie Haley Bodenheimer became Pitt's third EAGL Rookie of the Year in the past four seasons. Bodenheimer dominated all freshmen competitors as she took home rookie of the week honors in six of the 11 weeks the honor was awarded. She also recorded an impressive all-around score of 39.325 against Penn State on March 11, 2012, which was the third-highest all-around score in Pitt history.
Success is not a new phenomenon for Coach Yohman and the Panthers. In 2000, she coached her team to a second-place finish as they hosted the East Atlantic Gymnastics League (EAGL) Championships. Then in 2004, she watched as Alyse Zeffiro recorded the Panthers' first two perfect 10.0 scores on the vault and floor exercise. Yohman's teams have received bids to the NCAA Northeast Regional Championships numerous times including 18 of her 26 years at the helm, and has qualified individual specialists or all-arounders in every season that they have not advanced as a squad.
An ECAC Coach of the Year, EAGL Coach of the Year and the 2002 Northeast Region Coach of the Year, Yohman has produced numerous decorated athletes over the years. The Panthers boast the 2009, 2010 and 2012 EAGL Rookies of the Year in Alicia Talucci, Meaghan Biros and Haley Bodenheimer, respectively. In 2011, senior Mallory Brewer earned the EAGL Championship title on the floor exercise with a 9.9, becoming Pitt's first conference floor champion. Zeffiro was a 2004 league champion on the vault, Danielle "Freddie" Alba was the EAGL balance beam champion, and Samantha Salyers won uneven bars both at EAGL & NCAA Regionals.
In 2007, Yohman produced two individual EAGL Champions (Dani Bryan-Vault, Andrea Arlotta-Bars). In addition to her bar championship, Arlotta left as Pitt's all-time scoring leader with 1,609.180 points, was named Northeast Region Gymnast of the Year and became the first Pitt all-arounder to qualify to the NCAA National Championships.
The string of EAGL champions continued the next two seasons when Anya Chayka won the 2008 balance beam title and Alix Croop won the bars title in 2009. Brewer added her floor title to the list in 2011. Yohman has led the team to five EAGL individual titles in the last six years, more than the previous 11 years combined (3). The Panthers now own at least one title on every event but the all-around. In addition to Pitt's three rookie of the year awards, the Panthers have been awarded each of the major EAGL honors including Gymnast, Senior Gymnast, Scholar-Athlete and Coach of the Year awards.
In addition to having successful competitors, Yohman said one of the major highlights in the last quarter century is the state-of-the-art training facility in Trees Hall.
"The facility affords us all kinds of opportunities for training skills of any level--from learning new to refining current skills," said Yohman. "We have become more attractive athletically than we were in the past. People are now aware that current facility is one of the finest on the East Coast and in the EAGL and ACC. We've been able to raise the level of our gymnastics and our expectations and we're getting more of the highest caliber athletes to look at Pitt."
Yohman's gymnasts may have achieved many successes in the gym, but they have been equally strong in the classroom. Since 1996, the Panther gymnasts have accumulated 151 All-EAGL Academic selections with 14 gymnasts being named to the team for four consecutive years. The team has also boasted over 95 NACGC/W All-American Scholar Athletes having a grade point average of 3.5 or better.
"Debbie Yohman and Pitt Gymnastics are synonymous," said associate athletic director Kirk Bruce. "For 25 years she has led our gymnastics program, developing many individual champions in the EAGL (East Atlantic Gymnastics League) while also capturing numerous academic awards along the way. Our teams under Debbie's direction compete hard and I am confident that we are poised for even better results moving into the ACC."
Yohman has also had a long association with successful gymnastics programs as a competitor. During her collegiate career, she was a member of the 1976 national championship team at Clarion University. Additionally, she served as a student assistant for Clarion in 1977, also a national championship season. She served as graduate assistant at the University of Iowa from 1977-79.
Her head coaching career began at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1982. From 1982-86, she helped the Division III Panthers transition to the Division II level, giving the school an opportunity to offer scholarships for the first time. Under Yohman's guidance, the program rose from the cellar of the WWIAC to a national contender, as they finished runner-up to national champion University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Following her tenure at UWM, she returned to the NCAA Division I level as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State. She spent four years in Stillwater before coming to Pittsburgh.
Yohman has also devoted many years to leadership at the national level. She has been unselfishly involved on many committee and volunteer positions with the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches including the evolution of the Women's Collegiate Program Committee, the rules advisory body that works closely with the NACGC and the NCAA Gymnastics Committee.
Yohman is widely regarded by her peers throughout the NCAA as an expert go-to person for questions on the JO Code of Points and NCAA modifications.
Yohman has been a member of the Women's Collegiate Program Committee since its inception in 1997 and has served two tenures as its chair. She was previously the NCAA Gymnastics Coaches representative to the Women's Technical Committee (WTC) of USA Gymnastics. Yohman also served for four years as chairperson of the ECAC Division I Selection Committee. She has served as meet director for Big 8, Big 10, and MAIAW Regional Championships, and is a USAG Elite judge. Yohman was one of the original members in the group of eight coaches whose groundbreaking work in 1995 led to the formation of the East Atlantic Gymnastics League. The EAGL has for 17 years served to offer a championship experience for three Big East, three ACC and two independent programs, who otherwise would have no conference sponsored gymnastics championship, athlete honors or NCAA recognition.