This is a bit of a shocker, as Alabama Gymnastics Coach Dana Duckworth decided not to renew the contract of long-time assistant coach Bryan Raschilla.
Following the Tide’s moribund showing in St. Louis at Nationals, Coach Duckworth said farewell to the team and then sent a cryptic text to Raschilla.
“… Thank you for being more attentive (than) you ever have been since I’ve worked with you the last month,” it read. “It did not go unnoticed. I’m stepping back and processing. I know watching tonight hurts but will bring clarity and growth with the right mindset.”
On Saturday, UCLA won the national title. Sunday, Alabama traveled home. Monday, coaches returned to work.
Raschilla showed up early, like the morning person he is, and went over notes. Eventually needing a coffee break, he asked Duckworth if she would also like a cup. She didn’t.
Instead, The Tuscaloosa News has learned, Duckworth then told Raschilla she wasn’t renewing his contract.
For a program with the stability of Alabama, losing a long-time tie to the Patterson regime is a surprise. It’s equally surprising since both Duckworth and Raschilla were contenders for the position vacated by the Alabama legend.
Still, given the Tide’s previous two showings in Nationals and some fan criticism of stagnation, it was perhaps a necessary change. And, despite making the program more upbeat in the locker room, it is a sign that Coach Duckworth has come into her own enough to bring in new blood and place her own imprimatur on the team — and neither of those are bad reasons.
Best of luck to Coach Raschilla, and best of luck to Coach Duckworth in identifying a successor. The next hire will probably tell us a good deal about the direction she envisions the program going.