Who says you can’t go home?
Certainly not Courtney McCool Griffeth, who is spending time this week in Blue Springs working with her former Great American Gymnastics Express (GAGE) coaches Al Fong and Armine Baruytan, as they host gymnasts from across the country.
“It’s great to be back home,” said a beaming McCool Griffeth, who was part of the 2004 U.S. women’s Olympic team that won a silver medal at the Summer Games in Athens.
“I’ve always loved Al and Armine and now, it’s so much fun to be back working with them, rather than having them be my coaches. We’ve had a lot of fun this week and a lot of time to catch up with what’s going on in our lives.”
Following her Olympic success, the Lee’s Summit North High School graduate earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia in 2006.
Her freshman season, she helped the team win its third straight national title, scoring a first-place 9.95 on beam at the 2007 NCAA Women’s Gymnastics Championships in Salt Lake City.
At the 2008 NCAA Championships in Athens, Georgia, she won the floor exercise and contributed to Georgia's fourth consecutive title.
In 2009, Georgia won a fifth straight title, and McCool was named an All-American on balance beam, where she scored her first perfect 10.
“I have a lot of good memories from my college days,” she said as she finished coaching a group of youngsters who were just about her age when she began working with Fong and Baruytan.
In the background was a massive banner of a young McCool performing at the Olympics.
When asked if any of her young charges had asked about Olympic glory, she grinned and said, “They weren’t even born in 2004.”
Today she is married to Garrett Griffeth, an assistant gymnastics coach at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. McCool Griffeth is volunteer coach/choreographer for the gymnastics team. They have a 4-year-old daughter, Rae.
The Griffeths went to Utah after two seasons at Arkansas, where Garrett was the associate head coach and Courtney the volunteer coach/choreographer. They spent four years in similar capacities at Texas Woman's University from 2014-17. Garrett was also the recruiting coordinator at both schools.
In their first season at Arkansas in 2018, the duo helped the Razorbacks advance to the NCAA Championships for the first time in five seasons. McCool Griffeth coached and choreographed Sophia Carter to regular season All-America honors on floor and Carter qualified as an individual competitor into the 2019 NCAA Championships. The Razorbacks set several school records from 2018-19 and achieved a program first with consecutive fifth-place SEC finishes.
They previously coached four seasons at TWU, where Griffeth was the 2014 Coaches Association Division II Assistant Coach of the Year and the 2017 Midwest Independent Conference Assistant Coach of the Year.
McCool Griffeth coached two USAG national floor champions. In their last season at TWU, the Pioneers won the 2017 USAG National Championship. Before starting their collegiate coaching careers, the Griffeths coached at Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy in 2013.