Ashley Priess-Johnston Named Head Coach of Alabama Gymnastics


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Ashley Priess-Johnston has been named the head coach of The University of Alabama gymnastics program, UA Director of Athletics Greg Byrne announced Monday. Johnston will be formally introduced at a press conference on Friday.

“We are beyond excited to have Ashley Johnston take over the reins of our gymnastics program as our head coach,” Byrne said. “Everyone we’ve spoken to holds her in the highest regards as a coach, mentor and leader, including long-time head coach Sarah Patterson, who I’ I had wonderful conversations with during this search and I really appreciate her support. Throughout this process with Ashley, we’ve been very impressed with her commitment to the total student-athlete. One of the grittiest and most accomplished competitors in our program’s proud history, she has translated her achievements as a gymnast into a standout career as a coach, and we are thrilled to have her back in Tuscaloosa.”

A 10-time Crimson Tide All-American and member of back-to-back NCAA Championship teams, Johnston was legendary for coming up with huge routines when the stakes were the highest, securing her place in Crimson Tide lore when she closed out the 2012 NCAA Championships with a near-perfect balance beam routine to clinch Alabama’s sixth national team title.

“I am honored to be trusted as your new head gymnastics coach,” said Johnston. “Thank you two Greg Byrne and the amazing executive team for allowing me to share my vision, passion and commitment to student-athlete well-being and to the future of this storied program. I look forward to reconnecting with each and every one of you. With a very full heart, I want to say, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Roll Tide!'”

Johnston takes over Alabama’s gymnastics program following four years at Auburn, where she finished her tenure as associate head coach. She helped lead the Tigers to a fourth-place national finish last season, their highest in program history. The 2019 WGCA Central Region Assistant coach of the Year in her first season with Auburn, Johnston started her collegiate coaching career as an assistant at Illinois during the 2018 season.

Johnston began her coaching career at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy, where she worked with CGA head coach Mary Lee Tracy at the Elite and developmental level, while coaching the floor exercise and balance beam optional program.

Alabama’s seventh head gymnastics coach since 1974, Johnston is just the third since 1979. The Crimson Tide has won six NCAA Championships (1988, 1991, 1996, 2002, 2011, 2012), 10 SEC Championships and an NCAA-best 32 regional titles.

Alabama Gymnastics Career

  • Graduated (twice) with four team championship rings, winning NCAA titles in 2011 and 2012 and SEC championships in 2009 and 2011
  • Part of five NCAA Regional Championship teams
  • NCAA Woman of the Year, Top-30
  • 10-hour All-American
  • Five-time NCAA Regional champion
  • Two-time SEC champion and three-year All-SEC
  • NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship
  • Four-year Scholastic All-American
  • Five-year SEC Academic Honor Roll
  • Three-year team captain
  • UA Student-Athlete Advisory Committee President
  • Paul W. Bryant Scholar-Athlete Award
  • Earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2011
  • Graduated with a master’s degree in marketing in 2013

International Gymnastics Career

  • Seven-year member of the USA National Team
  • A Senior International Elite, she was a member of the 2006 USA World Championship team, finishing 10th in the all-around and helping the US to the silver medal
  • Second in the all-around at the 2008 International Exchange
  • Competing for Team USA, won the balance beam and uneven bars at the 2006 US World Cup in Lyon, France and earned silver and bronze medals in the balance beam and floor exercise, respectively, at the 2006 World Cup event in Ghent, Belgium
  • Silver medalist on balance beam at the 2005 Massilia Gym Cup in Marseilles, France

Johnston and her husband Jason, have a son, Colton.

While appropriate members of The Board of Trustees have been notified of the proposed terms and conditions of this proposed appointment, the financial terms remain subject to approval by The Board of Trustees.

For all of the latest information on Alabama gymnastics, follow @BamaGymnastics on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

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