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‘A special place in my heart’: Illinois legend Justin Spring heading to Alabama

The gym coach is joining the Crimson Tide.

Team USA

Illinois legend Justin Spring is moving on.

The Fighting Illini men’s gymnastics coach has taken an assistant coaching job with Alabama’s women’s gymnastics program.

Spring joins Alabama’s new head coach Ashley Johnston. She served as assistant at Illinois under Nadalie Walsh in 2018.

“It’s impossible to sum up my 20-year experience that I’ve had at the University of Illinois,” Spring said in a statement. “Just trying to put thoughts into words for this press release brings heavy tears to my eyes. When I made a decision to come here back in 2001, I never dreamed that I would have the opportunities and success that I have had, as well as making life-long friendships within this amazing community. I’m moving on to an exciting new opportunity but the Fighting Illini and Champaign-Urbana will always have a special place in my heart.”

Spring coached Illinois for 12 years, joining the program as an assistant in 2010. Under his coaching, Illinois had 11 gymnasts make an NCAA event title and three champions (2010, ‘11, ‘12).

Before coaching, Spring was a decorated gymnast at Illinois, winning fort NCAA championships and being named a 13-time All-American. He won a bronze medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.