The University of Denver has announced on Monday that Denver alumna and three-time Olympian Jessica Lopez and Cal graduate Desiree Palomares have joined the women’s gymnastics coaching staff.
Lopez joins as the team’s Volunteer Assistant Coach, while Palomares will work as Volunteer Director of Operations.
Jessica Lopez competed for the Pioneers from 2006 to 2009. She is a five-time All American, and during her time at Denver she won a total of eighty-three titles, the second-most in programme history. Lopez also represented Venezuela, her home country, at three Olympic Games (2008, 2012 and 2016). At the 2016 Rio Olympics, she became the first Venezuelan female gymnast to qualify for an event final, the uneven bars, where she finished sixth. Lopez also finished eighth in the all around competition, the best-ever result by a Venezuelan gymnast.
Denver head coach Melissa Kutcher-Rinehart said of Lopez: ‘After eight years and experiences away from the University of Denver, we’re thrilled to welcome Jessica back and provide her this opportunity’, denverpioneers.com reports. ‘We’re fortunate to have some of her caliber, worth ethic and passion for gymnastics on our staff. She’s demonstrated a willingness to learn, and she possesses all the necessary skills and technical expertise at the NCAA and Olympic levels. After competing at the highest levels, she understands performance under pressure and can share that knowledge with the team.’
Desiree Palomares graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2017, and is now enrolled as a graduate student at Denver’s Sturm College of Law. Palomares competed for Cal on vault, beam and floor, and made the lineup on balance beam on every meet but one during her four-year career. She is a 2017 regional co-champion on balance beam with a 9.900, a title that won her an individual qualification spot to the National championships. There, she ended her NCAA career with an excellent 9.800 on balance beam.
Kutcher-Rinehart said of Palomares: ‘Desiree brings the experience of a recent, successful and competitive Division I student-athlete. She understands the organization and management necessary to thrive at the highest level. She’s detail-oriented and proactive, and she has a strong work ethic and a passion for gymnastics necessary for this position. She has already proven herself invaluable to our team.’
Article by Talitha Ilacqua