DENVER – Marisa Sodden spirit Mia Sundstrom have joined the University of Denver gymnastics team’s staff for the 2022-23 season, Joy S. Burns Women’s Gymnastics Head Coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart announced on Monday.
Sodden has been hired as the team’s director of operations while Sundstrom will serve as the team’s volunteer assistant coach.
Sodden graduated from the University of Alabama with a master’s degree in sports administration in 2022 after completing her bachelor’s degree in business management at Alabama in 2021.
“We’re blessed and thankful to have Marisa as our full-time director of operations,” Kutcher-Rinehart said. “She brings a wealth of knowledge, a willingness to work hard and an open mind to learning and growing this position. Her skills and experience will help allow us to continue to compete at the highest level. As is the case for our team and staff , she embraces our philosophy of character, teamwork and excellence, and she is passionate about and invested in Denver Gymnastics.”
During her time as a student, Sodden held multiple roles within the Alabama athletics department including as an intern with the gymnastics program in 2021-22. The Aurora, Colorado, native has also served as a coach and choreographer at the Colorado Gymnastics Institute.
“I am so excited to be a part of this amazing staff and officially be a Pioneer,” Sodden said. “Denver Gymnastics is such a special program and has been close to my heart for a long time. I am ready to hit the ground running and make DU Gymnastics the most successful program it can possibly be.”
Sundstrom spent the previous five seasons as a student-athlete on the Denver Gymnastics team, helping lead the team to its historic fourth-place finish at the 2019 NCAA National Championships and its first Big 12 Gymnastics Championship in 2021.
“Mia’s given her heart and soul to this team for the last five years, and I’m excited to welcome her back as our volunteer assistant coach,” Kutcher-Rinehart said. “She understands and embraces our philosophy of character, teamwork and excellence, and she wants nothing more than for this team to have continued success. I believe if anyone can make the transition from student-athlete to coach, it’s Mia.”
Sundstrom finished her career with career highs of at least 9,900 on all four events while also earning Academic All-Big 12 Team and WCGA Scholastic All-America selections in every year that she was eligible.
“Competing for Denver Gymnastics was an experience of a lifetime. Now, I’m excited and humbled to contribute to the team in a new role and continue learning from the incredible people involved with this program,” Sundstrom said. “I’m passionate about giving my all to help the team chase big goals as proud representatives of the University of Denver.”
Denver is coming off a successful 2022 campaign in which the team finished ranked No. 13 in the nation and advanced to NCAA Regionals for the 23rd time in a row. Among the student-athletes returning to the roster in 2023 are graduate students Lynnzee Brown spirit Alexandria Ruizboth of whom received additional years of eligibility (redshirt and COVID-19, respectively).
Junior Jessica Hutchinsonwho was named the 2022 Big 12 Gymnast of the Year and won the Big 12 all-around title, will also help lead Denver in 2023 along with fellow Big 12 champions junior Rylie Mundell and sophomore Momoko Iwai.
Four newcomers will join Denver this upcoming season in freshmen Mila Brusch, Cecilia Cooley, Ava Mabanta spirit Kiley Rorich.