Entering her eighth season at the helm of the Oklahoma women's gymnastics team, two-time National Coach of the Year K.J. Kindler has elevated the Sooner program to become one of the nation's elite.
In 2013, Kindler led OU to the program's third NCAA Super Six team finals appearance. The squad earned seven All-America honors en route to a second-place team effort overall, tying for the highest finish in program history. The performance marked OU's third top-three finish in the last four seasons under Kindler.
Kindler's 2010 team also achieved a second-place finish in OU's first-ever Super Six appearance. With the performance, Kindler became the first head coach in NCAA history to lead two separate programs to the Super Six (Iowa State--2006; Oklahoma--2010, 2011 and 2013).
Under Kindler's leadership, OU has captured five Big 12 championships, four consecutive NCAA regional titles and 41 NCAA All-America awards. The collegiate gymnastics community has recognized Kindler for her coaching achievements, awarding her National Coach of Year honors twice (2005 and 2010), Regional Coach of the Year accolades five times (2004, 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2013) and Big 12 Coach of the Year laurels a program-record seven times (2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2013).
The 2013 season marked one of the finest in Oklahoma program history. OU spent the entirety of the season ranked in the top three nationally, including two weeks at No. 1. The primary beam coach, Kindler led the beam squad to a No. 1 ranking for 11 consecutive weeks during the regular season. OU defeated nine top-25 teams, including four top-10 squads, en route to the program's 11th conference title and an NCAA Regional championship.
The Sooners' regular season efforts were recognized with a nation-best 11 NACGC/W All-America awards. Kindler's leadership throughout the team's stellar season earned her Coach of the Year honors from the Big 12 and the South Central Region.
Kindler's OU squad was marked by excellence at both the team and individual levels in 2013. The team posted a 197.375 at the NCAA Championships to finish as the nation's runner-up, tying for the highest finish in Sooner history. OU scored a 197.000 or better at 13 meets in 2013, tying an NCAA record for most such meets in a single season.
The seven All-America honors earned in 2013 give Kindler 58 career All-Americans, including 41 at Oklahoma. Kindler also coached her team to seven individual conference titles, boosting her career total to 42 Big 12 champions and 29 at OU. Five Sooners earned regional event titles at the NCAA Norman Regional, giving Kindler 26 career regional event champions and 17 with Oklahoma.
Kindler has combined athletic and academic success throughout her career with 69 Academic All-Big 12 honorees and 50 NACGC/W Scholastic All-Americans.
Kindler was named the South Central Regional Head Coach of the Year in 2011 after guiding OU to its third undefeated regular season in four years. A program-best 11 OU gymnasts were named All-Americans as the Sooners went on to win an NCAA Regional title and finish third in the nation.
On Jan. 23, 2011, Kindler collected her 100th win with the OU program as the Sooners defeated TWU, 196.175-193.050. OU is a combined 179-48-2 in seven seasons under Kindler; she has helped the program to its four best win percentages in program history in the last four seasons.
In 2010, the National Coach of the Year, Regional Coach of the Year and Big 12 Coach of the Year led Oklahoma to a national runner-up finish at the NCAA Championships with seven All-Americans, including Big 12 Sportswoman of the Year Hollie Vise. Vise was an All-American on bars, beam and floor and finished as the national runner-up on bars and floor.
Under the direction of Kindler, the Sooners closed 2010 with a final record of 29-3. The win total broke the previous program best of 26 that was set in 1989 under Becky Switzer. Kindler guided the Sooners to the only undefeated regular season in the NCAA in 2010 (22-0) en route to postseason titles at the Big 12 Championship and NCAA University Park Regional.
OU was ranked first or second in every regular season poll in 2010, as the Sooners were the only squad in the country to score above a 196.000 in every meet.
Oklahoma also picked up its first win over a No. 1 opponent in program history in 2010 with a 197.950-197.275 victory over top-ranked Alabama on March 5. OU eclipsed its previous program best (197.725) by 0.225 in the win, which was the highest score in the NCAA that season.
Kindler's squad continued its Big 12 dominance, winning its third-straight Big 12 title with a team score of 197.175, the highest score by a conference champion since 2001. OU swept all four team event titles and won at least a share of all four individual event titles.
The Sooners won their second-straight Big 12 title in 2009, while posting individual event titles on bars and beam at the conference championship. Megan Ferguson earned All-America status with her stellar performance on beam as the Sooners won eight beam titles in 2009.
In 2008, Kindler guided Kiara Redmond as the senior capped off her illustrious career with four additional All-America honors, moving her career total to nine - the highest tally of any gymnast in program history. The 2008 campaign started with 21 consecutive victories, including all 18 regular season meetings, as OU finished the regular season as the only undefeated team in the country.
Oklahoma produced a conference-leading nine spots on the 2008 regular season All-Big 12 Team.
OU recorded only two scores lower than 9.8 in the final three events of the 2008 conference championship as the Sooners clinched at least a share of all four individual event titles - marking just the third time in Big 12 history that a school clinched at least a share of all four apparatus wins.
Named head coach of the Sooners in the summer of 2006, Kindler quickly positioned the OU squad among the nation's elite in her first season in Norman in 2007. That year, the Sooners rattled off a streak of 12 consecutive victories, nine of which came on the road, including an upset of then-No. 6 Nebraska in Lincoln, a feat no OU team had accomplished since 1991.
Oklahoma finished second at the Big 12 Championships before heading to the NCAA Central Regional, taking second place before finishing eighth at the NCAA Championships, the highest finish up to that point in program history.
"We are dedicated to filling our staff with the best and brightest minds in coaching," said OU Athletics Director Joe Castiglione upon Kindler's hiring. "K.J. Kindler brings a reputation of great achievement in all aspects of leading a program."
Prior to her hiring at OU, Kindler spent six seasons as the head coach at Iowa State. In her final season in Ames in 2006, Kindler led Iowa State to its third trip to the NCAA Championships and its first appearance in the Super Six team finals.
The 24-10 Cyclones produced three All-Americans for a second-consecutive season while posting an undefeated mark at home, a 10-1 dual record and an 8-1 standard in duals against ranked opponents. The team also snapped Nebraska's 60-meet home winning streak.
The 2006 squad won its first Big 12 Championship since 2000, and three Cyclone gymnasts earned either an outright or share of an individual title at the meet.
Kindler, an Iowa State graduate, joined the Cyclone staff as an assistant coach in 1992.
Kindler hails from Lake Elmo, Minn., and trained under Mary Jane Olsen at Hamline University in St. Paul. In high school, she moved to Connecticut and trained under Frank and Laurie DeFrancesco at Arena Academy in Stamford and Walter Hawkes at Wilton High School. In Connecticut, she won multiple conference and state titles.
The eldest of five siblings, Kindler hails from a gymnastics family. One sister, Lori, competed at the University of Minnesota. She and her husband own and operate Flips Gymnastics in the Twin Cities area. Kindler's nieces, Emma and Lucy Kindler, enjoy recreational gymnastics.
Kindler is married to OU assistant coach Lou Ball. The couple has two daughters, Maggie and Adelade.