SUU to Everywhere

Jeff Richards (’95 and ’22)

Jeff Richards (’95 and ’22)
SUU to Gymnastics Coach

Originally published on March 26, 2024.

Anyone who has been to an SUU Flippin’ Birds gymnastics meet has likely seen Jeff Richards supporting and coaching his athletes. As the assistant gymnastics coach here for a total of 16 years, Jeff is an intrinsic part of SUU’s athletic staff and has loved every minute of it.

“It is so crazy because I wrote a paper in 7th grade that said I either wanted to be an astronaut or a coach. I even went to Utah State to pursue aerospace engineering,” he says. “Then I took a gymnastics class as an elective, and as you can tell, I pursued the gymnastics dream.”

Jeff has always loved sports. Throughout his time at Logan High School, he played football, ran cross country and track, and was part of the diving team. After such an active lifestyle, it’s no wonder he felt drawn to college athletics.

Jeff began his coaching journey at USU immediately following his 1988 graduation and coached Aggie gymnasts for two years before taking a job with PepsiCo.

He says, “I was thinking, ‘I have my career and I am good,’ but then Scotty (Bauman) said he was applying to SUU and wanted to know if I wanted a job as his assistant coach.”

Thus began Jeff’s first seven years as a Flippin’ Birds assistant coach from 1991-1998. During that time, he took many biology, chemistry, and physics courses and graduated in 1995 with a bachelor of science degree in physical education, and later a master’s of science in 2022. He credits his professors for much of his success and remains in contact with them.

“The one professor who truly made an impact on my life was Ty Redd,” Jeff says. “Anyone who has had him as a professor knows how hard his classes are, but when you’re done you walk away knowing that you’re better because the classes you took kicked your butt.”

Jeff Richards spotting a flipping gymnastIn 1998, Jeff pursued new coaching opportunities across the country, including positions at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, Winona State University, University of Iowa, Utah State University, George Washington University, and Penn State University, before returning to his alma mater in 2015. “I love that I have had the opportunity to coach at so many different places,” he says.

“I loved all of my experiences, but SUU was always the place I wanted to be. I love the people and the community. I love all the National Parks that are so close by, and all the available outdoor activities. Southern Utah is such an amazing place!”

Outside of coaching, Jeff enjoys riding his new Harley, hiking, mountain biking, wakeboarding, and snowboarding, as well as getting out and exploring Utah alongside his wife and five daughters.