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Mericle honored as Coach of Year for gymnastics


Last updated 11/2/2007 at Noon

Although Fallbrook High School gymnastics coach Debbie Mericle was not present at the CIF Board of Managers meeting October 16 in El Cajon, she was honored in absentia as the 2006-07 CIF San Diego Section gymnastics coach of the year.

“It is a great honor,” Mericle said. “The people I went up against are awesome people.”

The recipients of the award were selected by the other coaches in their sport. “It’s a great honor ’cause the coaches do it,” said CIF commissioner Dennis Ackerman.

The awards are not necessarily given to coaches who win championships. “They exemplify what CIF and high school athletics is all about. They provide quality leadership and support and they honor the whole system with their efforts,” said Mountain Empire Union School District superintendent Patrick Judd, the chair of the CIF Board of Managers.

“My understanding is I received it because I brought a program back,” Mericle said.

In 2006 the Fallbrook High School team had only eight gymnasts. Only three of those competed on the varsity level, not enough to earn a full score for the team.

Mericle agreed to coach the Fallbrook team in 2006 for lack of any other willing leaders. Her pre-coaching experience in gymnastics consisted of two daughters in the sport. She has gradually gained experience as a coach, relying on the experience of assistant coaches and tips from former Warrior gymnastics coach Shar Larsen.

In 2007 the Warriors returned to Fallbrook High School for the first time in five years. The equipment at the high school didn’t meet standards, so the Warriors at one time held home meets at the Fallbrook Gymnastics Club and became the host team at the opponent’s school once the school team was no longer able to use the club’s facilities.

This year the Warriors hosted two meets at the high school while three scheduled home meets were moved to other schools due to superior bars. The gymnastics team raised $3,800 for new bars which are now at the school, so the Warriors are likely to host more meets in 2008.

Because Fallbrook did not have an optional gymnast, the Warriors were not able to obtain the points for the optional performance but still won two of seven dual meets during the 2007 season. Two of Fallbrook’s gymnasts qualified for the CIF meet.

Mericle had also been selected by the Avocado League’s gymnastics coaches for the 2007 league Coach of the Year honor. “The girls are amazing. I can’t get over them,” Mericle said of her gymnasts.

The watch given to CIF Coach of the Year recipients will be mailed to Mericle, who did not receive notice about the presentation at the CIF meeting. “Nobody notified me or I would have been there,” she said.

Mericle learned about her award and the presentation after the CIF meeting. “I wanted to cry,” she said of missing the presentation.

Mericle attended Norte Vista High School in Riverside and graduated from that school in 1982, although she did not compete in gymnastics. She was on the swim team and also played volleyball as a freshman, and she twirled short flags for the high school drill team.

Her activities prior to coaching gymnastics also included service as a Girl Scout leader and working as a day care provider.

Mericle noted that she didn’t take over the Fallbrook gymnastics team expecting an award. “The award is just the extras,” she said.


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