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Rachelle Thompson enters her sixth season as the associate head coach of the Penn State women’s gymnastics program, working beside her husband, Jeff, who is the head coach for the Nittany Lions.
Under the coaching of Thompson in 2015, Briannah Tsang was named the Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Tsang is the fourth Nittany Lion in program history to receive the honor.
As a team, the Nittany Lions finished the regular season with a record of 14-3 and closed out the year ranked No. 22, which marked the 13th straight season the program has finished among the top-25 nationally.
During the 2014-15 academic year, the Penn State women’s gymnastics team won its fifth-straight Champs Cup [Penn State Team Community Service Award] for work in the community.
Thompson was an integral part of the 2014 squad placing second at the NCAA Regional Championships and earning a berth at the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2009. Her efforts helped guide the Nittany Lions to the first 20-win regular season in school history and a third place finish in the Big Ten regular season standings.
She helped Kassidy Stauder cap her career with second team All-American honors (balance beam), All-Big Ten Championship Team and first team All-Big Ten honors. Sidney Sanabria-Robles and Krystal Welsh were both named second team All-Big Ten, while Nicole Medvitz and Emma Sibson were among the top freshman in the conference.
In 2013, Thompson helped Sharaya Musser to her fourth-straight trip to the NCAA Championships – three under the tutelage of Thompson, and earned a pair of All-American honors, in the all-around and on the balance beam. Musser appeared at the 2012 NCAA Championships, earning All-America accolades on the balance beam and floor exercise, after winning the 2012 Big Ten Gymnast of the Year award.
During her first season as the associate head coach at Penn State, Thompson helped coach the Nittany Lions to a second place finish in the 2011 Big Ten Championship with two Nittany Lions capturing individual event titles. Penn State also earned a berth in the NCAA Regional Championships as the No. 2 seed and Musser advanced to the NCAA National Championships to represent the Nittany Lions.
Prior to landing in Happy Valley, Thompson spent 11 years at Auburn University, joining the staff in 1999 as a choreographer and volunteer coach. She was promoted to assistant coach in 2002 and associate head coach in 2006. Her responsibilities included, but were not limited to, coaching beam and floor, choreographing beam and floor routines, managing all meet contracts, scheduling community service projects, recruiting, as well as handling travel arrangements and the budget.
She was a two-time Auburn University Assistant Coach of the Year and was selected the 2008 NACGC/W Central Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
As a coaching tandem at Auburn, the Thompsons produced four NCAA All-Americans, four All-SEC team members, three SEC Gymnasts of the Year winners and one SEC Freshman of the Year. They coached nine NCAA Championship individual qualifiers and four NCAA Regional Event Champions.
Their gymnasts also excelled in the classroom and in the community. They had three SEC Scholar-Athlete of the Year winners, three CoSIDA Academic All-District members, 41 NACGC/W Academic All-Americans and 53 SEC Academic Honor Roll selections.
Prior to joining the Tiger staff, Rachelle was a choreographer and volunteer coach at LSU for six seasons and spent time coaching at Big Ten rival Illinois from 1992-93.
Thompson attended LSU and was a three-time NCAA All-American gymnast. She was a finalist for the American Award honoring the Top Five Senior Gymnasts, as well as a finalist for the Honda-Broderick Cup.
Thompson earned her bachelor’s degree in education from Auburn University in 2004, graduating suma cum laude.
A native of Baton Rouge, La. Rachelle is married to Jeff Thompson, the head coach for the Nittany Lions women’s gymnastics program, and they have two sons, Parker and Griffin.