Aki Hummel is leaving after 13 years for a business opportunity.
April 25, 2005
SALT LAKE CITY -
Aki Hummel, an assistant coach for the Utah gymnastics team since 1993, is leaving the profession to enter into a private business venture. Hummel and former Ute gymnastics massage therapist Shawn Haycock will co-own several Massage Envy franchises set to open in the Salt Lake valley this summer. There are currently 30 Massage Envy franchises nationwide.
"I was approached a year ago with an offer and I thought about it for a long time before making the decision to leave coaching," said Hummel. "I felt like I had to take this opportunity now because it might not come up again. This is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make and I feel like I'm leaving my family. It is exciting but also emotional because of the feelings I have for this program. I was at a juncture in my coaching career where I realized I couldn't see myself working for any other gymnastics team or athletics department than Utah's. This way I will get to stay in Salt Lake City and remain involved with Greg and Megan (Marsden) and the team."
The 1997 and 1998 NCAA Region Assistant Coach of the Year, Hummel was known as one of the top uneven bar coaches and gymnastics technicians in the nation. He coached two of Utah's three all-time NCAA uneven bar champions (Sandy Woolsey in 1994 and Angie Leonard in 1999) and also mentored Utah's only four-time uneven bar All-American (Theresa Kulikowski, 1999-2003). In his 13 years on the staff, Utah gymnasts earned 22 first-team All-America awards on bars and seven second-team honors. In his final NCAA Championships last weekend, Hummel coached two first-team uneven bar All-Americans in Ashley Postell and Rachel Tidd, who tied for third place. Nicolle Ford won second-team honors.
Utah head coach Greg Marsden expressed regret over his longtime assistant's departure. "Aki is so excited about this opportunity that I'm happy for him. On the other hand, I feel like someone just cut off my right arm," said Marsden. "What makes it so difficult is that in addition to losing one of the best assistant coaches in the country, I'm losing a confidant and someone who feels as much like a brother as an employee. The one saving grace is that I know I'll still have one of my best friends living here in Salt Lake City. Aki has been such an integral part of our program for the last 13 years, I'm still struggling to imagine starting a season without him."
They both envision Hummel remaining involved with the Utah gymnastics program. He almost certainly will continue to contribute to the award-winning Utah gymnastics online multi-media site, which he developed and now manages.
A national search will begin immediately for a replacement.