TOWSON, Md. – A charter member of the East Atlantic Gymnastics League, the Towson University gymnastics program will re-join the EAGL in time for the 2013 season, it has been announced by Towson University Director of Athletics Mike Waddell.
Towson was a member of the EAGL from 1996 to 2004. After the 2004 season, Towson left the EAGL to join the Eastern College Athletic Conference. In eight seasons of ECAC competition, the Tigers won six championships.
“We are very happy that our gymnastics program will be competing in the EAGL next year,” said Waddell. “Our gymnastics program has been one of our most successful programs and our move to the EAGL will provide our program with more visibility as we compete against such outstanding programs as North Carolina, NC State, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, New Hampshire and George Washington. We are excited to be part of such a prestigious league and we are looking forward to years of dynamic competition.”
Vicki Chliszczyk, the Tigers’ coach, is also excited about the move, “This is a great move for our gymnastics program and our athletics program. We are very happy that we were given the opportunity to return to the EAGL, a league where Towson was a charter member. There are so many positives with this move. It will help our recruiting and raise our program’s visibility. I’ve always felt that one of the best ways to improve is to face top competition. The EAGL will give us a chance to go against some outstanding programs and renew old-time rivalries.
“Our membership in the EAGL also shows a continued commitment to the Tigers gymnastics program,” she added. “We are grateful for the support of Mike Waddell and the administration.”
The EAGL was formed on July 31, 1995, when eight universities banded together to form a union solely for the purpose of showcasing women’s gymnastics on the East Coast. The original EAGL members were the University of Maryland, University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University of the Atlantic Coast Conference; University of Pittsburgh, Rutgers University and West Virginia University of the Big East Conference; and Towson University and the University of New Hampshire of the America East Conference.
The league’s name, the East Atlantic Gymnastics League came from the conference names, Atlantic Coast Conference, the Big East Conference and America East.
In August 1996, the NCAA Council accepted the EAGL as an official affiliated member of the NCAA.
When Towson left the EAGL after 2004 season, George Washington University took its place. With West Virginia University joining the Big-12 Conference, Towson will take WVU’s spot in the EAGL.
“Having Towson return to the EAGL just seems right,” says Derek Galvin, the head coach at the University of North Carolina and the EAGL chairperson. “Once we knew West Virginia would be leaving for the Big-12 Conference, all of the EAGL coaches met and we reached an enthusiastic, unanimous decision to invite Towson to return to the EAGL.
“All of us want to see the EAGL thrive and having Towson back in the EAGL makes us stronger,” Galvin added. “Vicki Chliszczyk is doing a great job at Towson and this move is great for the Towson program and the EAGL. We are looking forward to having Towson back in the league. Towson was a charter member so it feels like we have come full circle.”
During its eight-year run in the EAGL, the Tigers finished second once (1996) and had one third-place finish (2001). Towson also had a pair of fourth place finishes (2000, 2003). Some of the greatest gymnasts in EAGL history competed for Towson.
Three times Tigers were named as the EAGL Gymnast of the Year. In 2000, Gabi Weller was the co-winner of the EAGL Gymnast of the Year. Kristen Presutti, ’03 won the EAGL Gymnast of the Year award in 2002 and 2003.
In 1999, Liane Williams, ’99 was named as the EAGL’s Outstanding Senior Gymnast. Four years later, Jenn Baierlein, ’03 was also named as the Outstanding Senior Gymnast Award winner.
Sari Lehmuskallio, ’96 was the EAGL Scholar-Athlete of the Year award winner in 1996 while former Coach Dick Filbert was named as the EAGL Coach of the Year in 1997.
During the Tigers’ eight years in the EAGL, Towson won 13 individual EAGL titles. All-American Erin Shanley, ’97 won four EAGL championships. In 1996, she won the bars and floor exercise and, as a senior in 1997, she was the EAGL champion on vault and bars.
Williams won three EAGL titles in her career. As a freshman in 1996, she was the EAGL champion on balance beam. As a senior, she was the EAGL champion on vault and floor. Weller won EAGL titles on vault and all-around in 2000. Juliya Kovaliova, ’05 won back-to-back EAGL titles on bars in 2003 and 2004. Jennifer Clarke, ’04 was the EAGL champion on balance beam in 2002.
Under the direction of Coach Chliszczyk, the two-time ECAC Coach of the Year, the Tigers posted a 20-4 record last season. Towson finished as ECAC runner-up to Pennsylvania as Penn won the ECAC title by 0.025 points on its home floor.