Clemson “excited” to debut new Gymnastics program

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
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CLEMSON, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - A new program is ready to tumble into Clemson fans hearts. Back in June 2021, the Tigers announced they will start a gymnastics program.

It’s the start of a new journey.

“There’s not enough time,” Amy Smith, Clemson Gymnastics head coach, said. “That’s the biggest challenge.”

A new sport.

“Its been the best overwhelmed, exciting feeling ever.” Smith said.

Clemson added another sport to the schedule: Gymnastics.

“We want to have a high level of gymnastics, an incredible show,” Smith said. “I mean, we want to compete for a National Championship.”

Amy Smith was tabbed as the program’s first ever head coach. Smith - an All-American gymnast and 1997 National Champion at UCLA - was an assistant coach at Mizzou, UCLA and North Carolina before taking over at Utah State.

“It felt like it was the right fit and knowing that what those expectations were because those expectations aren’t for everybody,” Smith said. “It’s like, that can be intimidating to somebody of “oh, we’ve got to win a National Championship.” No, that exhilarates me. That excites me.”

After five years leading the Aggies, Smith is tasked with building the Tigers Gymnastics program from the ground up.

“It’s such a unique, special situation that at this level hasn’t come around in 20 years. How cool is that?” Smith said. “When do you ever get to have that in college athletics. It’s really cool. Absolutely pitching that and finding athletes that that excites them.”

To go with the new culture, Clemson unveiled the inaugural signing class. These athletes will set the foundation for Clemson gymnastics.

“I was just think once I’m older, you always look back on this and be like I was a part of the start of the program.” Lilly Lippeatt, Clemson Gymnastics signee, said.

“You get to help build it and get to help create a legacy,” Rebecca Wells, Clemson Gymnastics signee, said. “The entire thing is just so enticing because everything will be new all the support we’ve been getting it just makes you feel so good. You feel a lot of pride and honor to be able to compete for a program like that.”

Speaking of building, Clemson is constructing a near $30 million women’ sports facility with a 21,000 square foot gymnastics practice gym.

“I just can’t wait to start this new opportunity and be able to train in that incredible gym.” Wells said.

“I think it’ll be really good for the empowerment of women sports to be able to be in this community and be able to make friendships and be so close as you share this common ground of sports is really cool.” Lippeatt said.

This team is ready to debut.

“Just having this group of girls and being able to give back to the community and create something as excellent as Clemson has their standards for is so exciting.” Lippeatt said.

Clemson won’t compete until the winter of the 2023-24 athletic year. The launch comes in partnership with the ACC adding the sport as the 28th league sponsored sport.