Sunday, September 20, 2009

Know a Coach - Marvin Sharp

Marvin Sharp

This one has been a challenge. There is a significant dearth of information available about Sharp outside of his basic coaching background. As in, personal information is scarce. Even still, I won't be deterred, because I have a few hours to kill and I'm lame. Off we go.

According to Marvin Sharp's bio on, the coach of current National Champion Bridget Sloan was born in Newport, Oregon "a long time ago..." Search as I have, I was unable to find Sharp's exact birthday, so if anyone can find this for me and provide a source, I'll let them pick the next coach for this feature. I did find out that he graduated from college in 1989, so he's roughly 42. We'll say "early to mid forties."

Despite his questionable age (vampire? immortal?), Sharp began coaching in Oregon in the late eighties at the National Academy of Artistic Gymnastics. In 1988, he was put in the position of Junior Elite Head Coach. From there, he gym-hopped for a few years, finally settling in Indiana in 1994 as the head coach at the Indy School of Gymnastics.

For seven years, he remained head coach and at times, gym manager, of the successful program. But when the program began to crumble and it became clear that an earlier agreement that he would eventually take over ownership of the gym would not come to fruition, Sharp packed up and opened Sharp's Gymnastics Academy in 2001. He didn't leave empty handed, however; five coaches and over fifty team members followed him, and the dream was born.

[click here and scroll down for pictures of Sharp's under construction]

Sharp's vision for his new gymnastics school was one of a place that would promote fun, safety and health in all situations. He wanted a facility in which top level athletes could train, but the littlest gymnasts could thrive in a warm environment, too.

"I want SGA to be a positive place to workout, while offering the highest level of gymnastics training available. I believe in a preventative style of training. We use rehabilitation and training exercises to help prevent injuries. We also spend time emphasizing good nutritional habits. I know our athletes are some of the most physically fit in the USA." - Marvin Sharp

Sharp credits much of his philosophy on coaching to his collegiate studies in child psychology and coaching. He believes that the knowledge gained through his college education prepared him to teach without instilling the fear that's become such a stereotype (in many cases, for good reason) in gymnastics. Everything he does circles back to that original mission - safety, fun and health.

A celebrated coach at both the national and international levels, Sharp has only recently stepped into the spotlight in a major way. He's often been overshadowed by some of the more sensational names in gymnastics coaching, but his successes and years of dedication have finally paid off and the accolades are many.

In addition to numerous titles and awards, Sharp holds a Master of Sports Science and is the Education Chairman for USA Gymnastics Indiana. While most noted for his success as coach of 2008 Olympic Team Silver Medalist and current National Champion Bridget Sloan, Sharp has coached athletes who have gone on to compete at UCLA, Utah and Alabama, to name a few. A few months after the Olympics, he also welcomed Sloan's teammate and co-silver medalist from the 2008 Beijing squad, Samantha Peszek, to Sharp's after her long-time coach moved home to China.

On a separate but related note, Sharp also fancies himself a gymnastics photographer, a little known but very cool fact. You can see his work here.


1 comment: