Bob Nelligan enters his 31st and final season at the helm of the Maryland gymnastics program, having announced his intentions to retire following the 2008-09 campaign.
The face of Maryland gymnastics since 1979 , Nelligan begins the season with a career mark of 477-426-4. He has achieved 18 winning seasons at Maryland and 18 NCAA regional championship appearances, earning a reputation as a passionate and caring coach with abundant energy and a positive nature.
"I'm proud of the accomplishments of the program athletically, but it's been tremendously rewarding to me to have an impact on the lives of our student-athletes in so many other ways. My tenure as a Maryland coach has been one of the most personally and professionally rewarding experiences of my life."
Affectionately referred to as 'Duke', Nelligan has garnered the respect of all his colleagues at Maryland and nationwide, and is recognized as one of the top gymnastics coaches in the country. In 1999, he was acknowledged for his contributions to collegiate gymnastics when he was honored as both the East Atlantic Gymnastics League Coach of the Year and Southeast Region Coach of the Year.
During his remarkable career, Nelligan has been the driving force behind the Terps' success. His love for the sport and for his athletes is unique in today's world of gymnastics.
"Duke is one of the most passionate and caring coaches I know. He absolutely loves to be in the gym teaching and coaching," said assistant coach Vicki Chliszczyk. "His energy is evident in each and every practice and the entire team knows that Duke will be there to support them in any situation. Duke knows how to make each practice exciting and fun!"
Nelligan has witnessed and adapted to the numerous changes that collegiate gymnastics has undergone throughout his tenure. As gymnasts have gotten stronger, so has Nelligan's recruiting of the top gymnasts in the country. During Nelligan's career with the Terps, his team has qualified for the NCAA Southeast Region Championships 14 times since entering that region in 1983-84, including six consecutive times from 1983 to `89 and four consecutive times from 1998-2001. In recent years, the Terps have moved closer to qualifying for the NCAA Championship meet.
Maryland's level of success is only achieved through a strict regiment of training and conditioning, which Nelligan implements on a year-round basis. Nelligan is constantly striving to be the best and expects his gymnasts to do the same, both in athletics and academics. Last season, Maryland had five All-EAGL first team selections and three All-EAGL second team selections. Since 1996, Maryland has had five teams finish in the top three at the EAGL Championships.
But the Terps' success under Nelligan has come in the classroom as well as the gym. In 2008, 13 Terrapin gymnasts earned All-EAGL academic honors, including Scholar-Athlete of the Year Gretchen Kittelberger. Gymnastics has now won the President's Cup Team GPA Award four consecutive times and eight times in the history of the award. Nelligan's gymnasts also recently posted a 100-percent graduation rate.
Nelligan is responsible for ensuring this level of athletic and academic success is constantly maintained. He is the Maryland Terrapin team leader and the dedication and enthusiasm of the Terrapin gymnasts is a direct reflection of Nelligan's attitude and work ethic.
"Duke is one of the most technical coaches in all of collegiate gymnastics. His passion for the sport and support for his athletes is unrivaled. My father has done so much for me throughout my gymnastics career, it is a complete honor to be able to assist him with his," said his son Brett Nelligan, Maryland's associate head coach who will assume head-coaching duties following the 2008-09 season.
Even though his work with the gymnastics team consumes most of his time throughout the year, Nelligan still finds time to focus his energies on several other projects. He assists the Director of the Maryland Gymkana Troupe, the only touring exhibition gymnastics troupe in the country. They perform nationwide and have become a main attraction on the Maryland campus. Nelligan is also the co-founder of the Maryland Gymkana Camp and on numerous occasions has been a guest lecturer in the College of Health and Human Performance Department.
Nelligan also is a director and master staff member at the Woodward Gymnastics Camp in Woodward, Pa., and is a member of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches, the U.S. Elite Coaches Association and the chairman of the first NACGC ethics committee. Nelligan also has taught numerous classes regarding athletics and is striving to take athletics to another level through his pioneering of a wellness program for all of the varsity athletes at Maryland. This program is currently in the process of being implemented to select track and field athletes and will ensure that athletes achieve their highest potential through the best means possible.
Originally from Braintree, Mass., Nelligan has more than 35 years of gymnastics experience. Prior to accepting the position of head coach at Maryland for the 1978-1979 season, Nelligan worked in various capacities at the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y. From 1973 to 1978 he was a physical education instructor at the Masters School and also coached several teams, including gymnastics, lacrosse and softball. In addition to these responsibilities, Nelligan was named the Chairman of the Physical Education Department in 1975 for the Masters School. From 1972 to 1973 Nelligan coached at the Marvateens Gymnastics School in Rockville, Md., and before that was an instructor and coach at the Weymouth South School in Weymouth, Mass. Nelligan received his B.S. in physical education from the University of Massachusetts in 1971.
Nelligan and his wife, Chris, have two children; Brett and Kelsey. Brett is an assistant coach and the recruiting coordinator of the Maryland gymnastics team and Kelsey is the lone senior on the team.