The University of Bridgeport (UB), along with Webster Bank Arena, will present the 2012 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships from Thursday, April 12 through Saturday, April 14.
This is the first time that UB has hosted the championships. Eight of the nation’s top university teams who qualify to compete will vie to wrest the title from defending champions Purple Knights, UB’s once-underdog team who stunned many in the gymnastics world when they won the title in 2009. The team went on to win in 2010 and 2011.
“As 2012 is an Olympic year, there is a lot of focus on our sport,” said UB head women’s gymnastics coach Byron Knox, “so this is a great time to host a prestigious event like the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships. Our program is psyched for the opportunity to defend our title at home, and to host the team finals in a great facility like Webster Bank Arena truly takes this event to another level.”
The three-day championships begin at UB’s Hubbell Gymnasium on Thursday, April 12, with two sessions of team semifinals at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. The top two teams from Thursday’s semifinals will advance to competition starting at 7 p.m. at Webster Bank Arena. The weekend concludes with the individual event finals back on Bridgeport’s campus in Hubbell Gym at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 14.
The Purple Knights’ breathtaking transformation from the “little team with a dream” to a national powerhouse has thrilled fans, who have watched its meteoric rise to the top in just a handful of years.
Once in danger of folding as a program, the team grew under the guidance of head coach Knox, who built a roster of champions by recruiting gymnasts with the promise that if they competed with UB, he’d teach them new skills. That was a radical notion in college gymnastics, where athletes are typically coached to perfect already finely honed routines. But there was magic in the maverick approach, and the Purple Knights qualified for the championships in 2009, the first time in UB history. At the time, Knox recalls, “everyone dismissed UB. No one gave us a chance.”
That changed on April 10, 2009, when Knox and his Purple Knights were crowned the new USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Champions.
UB President Neil Albert Salonen said: “The University of Bridgeport is honored to serve as the host of the 2012 USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate National Championships. We are proud of our three-time national champions and are pleased to welcome all of the USAG competing schools to our university and city. This championship event is a great way for the UB community to showcase our institution as well as our city to all our visiting student-athletes and regional gymnastics fans. We look forward to welcoming all and a most robust competition.”
Howard Saffan, president of Harbor Yard Sports and Entertainment, LLC, which manages Webster Bank Arena, said the event is another example of the arena’s commitment to college sports. “We’re proud to present the USAG team finals. These outstanding athletes are a credit to their schools and fans will be treated to some of the best gymnastic talent in the nation.”
Ticket information: Tickets are on-sale now. Prices are $45.00 for a three-day/four-session pass. Tickets to the Webster Bank Arena event on Friday, April 13 at 7:00 p.m. are: $27.50, $22.50 and $12.00, (additional fees may apply). Tickets can be purchased at the arena’s Clickit or Ticket Box Office or at ticketmaster.com. Tickets are $10.00 for each session that will be held at Hubbell Gymnasium on the campus of the University of Bridgeport on Thursday, April 12 and Saturday, April 14. Please visit www.bridgeport.edu/usag for information on how to purchase advanced tickets.
Mary-Jane Foster, University of Bridgeport Vice President Community Relations: (203) 576-4696
Michael Foley, HarborYard Sports & Entertainment Director of Communications: (203) 345-4825