Former Iowa men’s gymnasts join GymACT

After Iowa Athletics dropped men’s gymnastics at the varsity level following the 2020-21 season, the team found its way into a different organization.


Ayrton Breckenridge

The Iowa men’s gymnastics team huddles on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021 during the Iowa vs. Penn State men’s gymnastics meet at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Iowa defeated Penn State 398.850-393.550. Men’s gymnastics has not been reinstated like the women’s swimming and diving team was earlier in February, so this is will be their final season.

Isaac Goffin, Sports Reporter

The former Iowa men’s gymnastics team thought its program would never compete again after it departed the Maturi Pavilion in Minneapolis, following the conclusion of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Gymnastics Championships in April.

Iowa Athletics announced on Aug. 21, 2020, that men’s gymnastics — along with men’s and women’s swimming and diving and men’s tennis — would cease operation at the end of the 2020-21 academic year. 

Though the athletics department reversed its decision on women’s swimming and diving amid a Title IX lawsuit, men’s swim and dive, gymnastics, and tennis were officially axed following their 2020-21 seasons.

But that didn’t stop several former Iowa men’s gymnasts from finding another path forward for the program. As of Oct. 6, the Gymnastics Association of College Teams (GymACT) board accepted Iowa as a member.

Though the organization doesn’t fall under the umbrella of the NCAA, GymACT has 14 teams — some of which are former NCAA-sponsored programs. The NCAA currently has 13 men’s gymnastics programs, with two more slated to begin competition in fall 2022.

“When our season ended, a lot of the guys — there’s nine of us left — we looked to find what we can do now,” said Zac Tiderman, a freshman on the 2020-21 Iowa men’s gymnastics team. “That sort of idea, and we’ve all heard about GymACT, and that’s when the idea came up.” 

Tiderman filled out the application for Iowa to become a GymACT member, but the program had to jump through multiple obstacles before submitting the form.

JD Reive, the Iowa men’s gymnastics team head coach from 2010-21, moved to Littleton, Colorado, to become the general manager of 5280 Gymnastics — leaving the interested men’s gymnasts without a certified coach.

GymACT mandates programs to have a certified dedicated head coach. 

But former gymnasts Peyton Hobson, who competed with Iowa from 2020-21, got a coaching certification through USA Gymnastics to fill the void. Hobson will serve as the program’s head coach as he finishes his senior year of college.

“Personally, I was at the point in my life where my body was kind of done, I had an internship, so I couldn’t quite commit to another year of gymnastics,” Hobson said. “But I wanted to stay in the sport because I love it, I love my teammates, so I just decided to become the head coach.”

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Another major stumbling block was securing a dedicated facility with proper equipment. The gymnasts joined the preexisting gymnastics club at Iowa so they could train at the Field House on campus.

Tiderman said Iowa’s department of recreational services wants the program in the Field House because it helps the student organization. He also added the athletics department will not sell the men’s gymnasts’ equipment. 

A booster club, consisting of a board with former Iowa head coach Tom Dunn and former gymnasts Dan Bachman and Lance Alberhasky, is setting up funding for the men’s gymnastics team to raise money.

As there is no preexisting funding for the reinvigorated program, Tiderman expects a website up that is dedicated to raising money in a couple weeks.

The GymACT board interviewed Tiderman and his teammates on Oct. 1. With a head coach, equipment, and the setup of Iowa’s board, the gymnasts had everything they needed to join GymACT. 

“I just want to throw a big kudos to the athletes themselves,” GymACT president Scott Barclay said. “Because with their desire and their drive to stand up and say, ‘we want to make this work,’ in spite of everyone else putting them down and losing their positions. They deserve a big kudos.” 

Barclay said the men’s gymasts will likely compete in five meets against GymACT and NCAA teams, starting in January. The team will also compete in a national meet in May. 

Though the newly minted GymACT program won’t host any meets in Iowa City during the upcoming 2022 season, the gymnasts are thankful they can continue competing with one another and continue the program’s legacy — one that started in 1915.

“I think the biggest thing is I felt like we were wronged by our university,” Tiderman said. “As a team and personally, and I felt like stepping up and creating this GymACT program, it was a way for us to fight back and show that you can’t knock us down.”