Little To Legendary: Tom Farden’s Rise At Utah, Red Rock’s 46th Straight Appearance At Nationals

Apr 7, 2022, 2:19 PM
Tom Farden - Utah Gymnastics...
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)
(Photo courtesy of Utah Athletics)

SALT LAKE CITY- Few teams across any sport can boast of the consistency the Red Rocks have had through their illustrious existence. As the Utes prepare for their 46th straight appearance at Nationals (the only NCAA team to appear in every collegiate gymnastics finals), head coach Tom Farden is appreciative to be a part of such a strong legacy.

Little To Legendary

To say Greg Marsden and his wife Megan are juggernauts in the sport of gymnastics would be putting it mildly. The Marsdens revolutionized the sport from the leotards down to the branding to get fans in the seats. Influences that can still be felt in the sport to this day.

Needless to say when you build an empire, you aren’t just leaving it to anyone. Greg knew he and Megan weren’t going to lead the Red Rocks forever and so years before he was actually serious about retiring Marsden started scouting potential heirs to the throne. That’s when he found Tom Farden at Southeast Missouri.

“They had a plan and this was their execution,” Farden said. “But that wasn’t my plan. My plan was to come to Utah and steal everything I could from the Mardens and then move on to a different program. No idiot follows one legend let alone two.”

Obviously, Farden had a change of heart somewhere along the way and the rest as they say is history.

“You grow and learn to appreciate a community like I have Salt Lake City and my neighborhood,” Farden said. “My children are here. They’ve grown here. My son is in high school next year so you raise your family here and it becomes your life. Beyond that you can see the future in gymnastics. I’ve done the lion share of recruiting here and I can see the future.”

The 46th ‘Ship

In Farden’s third season as the sole proprietor of Utah Gymnastics it would appear the future is here and now. The Utes have been ranked in the top four the entire 2022 season and rank no lower than sixth in each individual event. Utah also won their third consecutive regular season Pac-12 title, back-to-back Pac-12 Championships as well as Regional Championships. The one thing left to do is bring a National Title back to Salt Lake City. Something that hasn’t happened since 1995.

The Red Rocks will be traveling to Fort Worth, Texas next week to try and end the dry spell, but as regionals proved, it will be no easy task. Utah will compete in the early session of Thursday’s semi-finals at 11 a.m. MT and will be going against Oklahoma, Alabama, and Minnesota in hopes of advancing to Saturday’s final. Only the top two from each session will keep their national championship hopes alive.

“We have to time things with their strength and fitness, but also treatments,” Farden said of Nationals prep. “Their physical therapy and stuff like that. You’re trying to catch lightening in a bottle as you head to the Elite Eight. Hopefully you are in the Final Four.”

Region Two Coach of the Year

Earlier Thursday morning it was announced Farden along with his support staff (Carly Dockendorf, Jimmy Pratt and Myia Hambrick) were named Region Two’s Coach of the Year and Assistance Coach of the Year by the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association. The award is Farden’s third of his career (2008, 2020, 2022) and Dockendorf’s second (2020).

“These awards are just a reflection of what the athletes did,” Farden said. “We are so grateful we are surrounded by a university that has embraced us and supported us at a very high level for many years. More importantly it’s a by-product of what the athletes did and that they believed in their discipline. We have a philosophy of co-piloting this with the athletes and making sure they have ownership. That they feel like their coaches are in their corner every step of the way.”

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Little To Legendary: Tom Farden’s Rise At Utah, Red Rock’s 46th Straight Appearance At Nationals