Laurel Tindall remains constant in Seattle Pacific’s gymnastics heritage

Coach Laurel Tindall, in her 42nd season, has been with the Falcon program nearly from the start. The Falcons will host the USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships this weekend and will be competing in their 35th national meet in the past 36 years.

Starting Friday, the Seattle Pacific gymnastics team will compete in a national-championship meet for the 35th time in 36 years as it hosts the three-day USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships at Brougham Pavilion.

SPU’s coach at each of those meets, and many meets before them, has been Magnolia native Laurel Tindall.

Now in her 42nd season, Tindall could qualify as a school institution. Tindall, who turns 64 in July, laughs, then squints at the thought. “Do we have to go there?” she asked.

USA Gymnastics Women’s Collegiate Championships

Seattle Pacific, Brougham Pavilion

Friday: Team semifinals, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Saturday: Team finals, 7 p.m.

Sunday: Individual finals, 1 p.m.

The Falcons, after placing third in the past three national meets, are the No. 9 seed in a nine-team field of small-scale programs — Division II schools and Division I universities that offer no more than 7.5 scholarships per year.

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The top seed is Bridgeport (Conn.), followed by two-time defending champion Lindenwood (of St. Charles, Mo., coached by Inglemoor grad Jen Kesler), Texas Woman’s (Denton), Cornell, Air Force, Yale, Brown and West Chester (Pa.).

Team semifinals are Friday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., team finals Saturday at 7 p.m. and individual finals Sunday at 1 p.m. SPU junior Ariana Harger is the defending national champion on floor exercise.

SPU has won three national titles under Tindall—an NCAA Division II championship in 1986, then two more titles (1992, 1997) after the sport’s governing body, USA Gymnastics, organized a small-school championship in 1987. The NCAA had dropped the D-II meet due to too few D-II schools sponsoring the sport.

Tindall has been involved with SPU gymnastics almost since the program’s inception.

She got serious about gymnastics at age 13 and trained with George Lewis at the Seattle YMCA before enrolling at Washington. As a freshman in 1973 she won an individual national title on vault at a pre-NCAA (AIAW), all-division national meet. A year earlier, she competed in the U.S. Olympic trials.

In 1973 Lewis moved his training operations to SPU after renting space from the university and, as a side job, started its gymnastics program in 1974. Tindall, a graduate of Queen Anne High School, transferred to SPU. She won another national vault title for her new school in 1975.

“When I was competing for UW, I was still training at SPU because that’s where George and our club program was,” Tindall said. “Washington was just too big for me, and all my friends were SPU people.”

Did her championship routine including demanding Yurchenko or Tsukahara…

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