|Years at OU:|
Third Year as Head Coach
Long acknowledged as one of the best coaches in the United States, if not the world, Steve Nunno takes over the Sooners' sole head coaching duties in 2002 after sharing the position with long-time head coach Becky Switzer last season.
Switzer hand picked Nunno as her successor based on his extensive international expertise, and after almost two decades of coaching top level Elite athletes, Nunno jumped at the chance to return to his collegiate roots. He was an assistant at Oklahoma from 1983 through 1985.
"Working at the collegiate level again is an exciting experience for me," Nunno said of his position. "I've been here before, but a lot has changed since then.
"I think it's a very exciting time to be at the university level gymnastically. I think the sport is really peaking here and there's a tremendous amount of excitement involved from the fans. I feel like I hit the ground running last year and there isn't any transition left. We made our stand and got this program back on its feet. This year, we want to be better and work our way to the top."
Nunno's extensive coaching expertise and international experience, which includes stints at all levels of the sport, up to and including the Olympic Games, is having a positive effect on the OU squad.
"I enjoy sharing my international experience and gymnastics technical expertise with the athletes," Nunno said. "I think that I've already contributed a little bit and the athletes are excited about learning new skills. I'm trying to rejuvenate their excitement for their own gymnastics, now, in the twilight of their careers. Most of these athletes have been doing gymnastics for 15-20 years and most will stop after college, so this is a very exciting time for them, as well as for me."
Always on the lookout for new coaching challenges, Nunno has been at the forefront of the U.S. gymnastics community for more than two decades. He represented the University of Massachusetts until his graduation in 1979 and then put his coaching career into high gear. He owned and operated a successful gymnastics club in Boston before moving to Texas to work alongside gymnastics coaching legend Bela Karolyi.
In 1983, Nunno arrived in Oklahoma to serve as Switzer's assistant. He remained at OU for three seasons before leaving to open the first of several Oklahoma City-area gymnastics centers.
Shortly thereafter, on a training trip to the former Soviet Union, Nunno met Oklahoma native Shannon Miller, whom he would eventually lead to two world championship titles and seven Olympic medals, including a pair of golds at the 1996 Olympic Games.
During her career, which spanned more than a decade, Miller, with Nunno's guidance, won titles at every major national and international competition, earning gold at the Olympic Games, World Championships, University Games, Pan American Games, Goodwill Games and the U.S. National Championships. Today, Miller is recognized as the most decorated gymnast in U.S. history.
In addition to Miller, Nunno coached 1993 junior national champion Jennie Thompson, as well as U.S. national team members Ashlee Bradley, Heather Brink, Mina Kim, Audria Fraim, Alecia Ingram, Soni Meduna, Mariana Webster and Lori Winn, just to name a few.
While his gymnasts earned medals, Nunno was showered with accolades by his fellow coaches. He was named "Coach of the Year" by USA Gymnastics in 1992 and was honored as the United States Elite Coaches Association "Coach of the Year" in 1992, 1993 and 1996, the only three-time recipient of the award. In 1999, The Daily Oklahoman ranked Nunno eighth in a list of the greatest Oklahoma coaches in all sports of the 20th century.
"What drew me to collegiate coaching was the opportunity to coach at the University of Oklahoma," Nunno said. "I don't think I would have taken a position anywhere else in the United States. Oklahoma is my home and it's been my home for the last 16 or 17 years. I have a fondness for the state and for all of those who have supported me and now I want to give back a little to the people of Oklahoma.
"I learned a lot from Becky and one of the most important things was the artistic view of gymnastics. As much as we'd like to build a national championship team here, we want to do it our own way and without compromising the sport and what it's known for. She opened my eyes to that and reminded me that this sport can be powerful, yet beautiful."
Nunno's goals for OU's future are clear. He wants to take Oklahoma to the top of collegiate gymnastics and secure for the university a first-ever national title.
"That's what I'm here for," he said simply, "to develop a team that can win a national championship. I don't see where this program won't be the best in the nation in five years. We're on the way up and there's no looking back."
Nunno, who still owns two Dynamo gymnastics clubs in the Oklahoma City area, lives in Edmond with his wife, Laurie, and their three children, Talia, Carina and Anthony.