Central Michigan names Christine MacDonald gymnastics head coach


The CMU Gymnastics team listens to the coaching staff before participating on the balance beam on Feb. 22 in McGuirk Arena.

For the last 25 seasons, Christine MacDonald has been a member of the Central Michigan gymnastics coaching staff under former coach Jerry Reighard.

Following Reighard's firing from the program, MacDonald has been named the new head coach, CMU Athletics announced.

"I'm truly thrilled to have this opportunity, and I'm grateful to continue with a program that is so well supported by our administration," MacDonald said. "Having a culture where our student-athletes love to come to practice every day and know they will be challenged is one of my top goals."

MacDonald has played an influential role in 15 Mid-American Conference Championships and 16 NCAA Regional Championships.

CMU Athletic Director Michael Alford said MacDonald was the right person for the job, even after conducting a national search for a new coach.

"She has a strong vision for the team that will lead our student-athletes to success on the competition floor and in the classroom while continuing to set them up for future success," Alford said in a press release. "Most importantly, it was clear to me through this process and in her actions while providing leadership for our program the last few months that Christine makes the health and safety of our student-athletes a top priority."

MacDonald replaces Reighard, who was fired after 35 years at the helm of the Chippewas on April 18, 2019.

He was sacked after a lengthy internal investigation found the coach encouraged a student-athlete "to provide false information to medical staff related to her fitness to compete." 

The injury occurred Feb. 15, and Reighard was placed on paid administrative leave Feb. 20 when the investigation began. Reighard did not respond to any of Central Michigan Life's requests for comment.

When Reighard was on paid leave, MacDonald took command of the program, leading CMU to the NCAA Regional Championships against Illinois on April 4. The Chippewas lost, 195.325–195.275. She coached the final six meets of the 2019 season.

This past season, Denelle Pedrick was named MAC Gymnast of the Year. Morgan Tong was MAC Freshman of the Year. Both athletes worked under MacDonald's guidance when she was an associate head coach and working in the place of Reighard.

As a student-athlete from 1988-91, MacDonald was a member of three MAC championship teams at CMU. She earned her bachelor's degree in interpersonal and public communication. MacDonald was a student coach in 1992.