It was a good two days for the Arizona GymCats. They got their first two wins of the season at a tri-meet against Air Force and Texas Woman’s University on Sunday. Then on Monday they announced that head coach John Court has signed an extension through the 2024 season.
“I am very excited to continue building Arizona Gymnastics,” Court said in the University’s press release. “We have accomplished many things in a short amount of time and we look forward to pushing the program to new heights in the future.”
According to the latest data available in the Arizona Daily Wildcat’s salary database, Court was paid $105,00 in fiscal year 2019-20.
Court has been part of the Arizona gymnastics program for 23 years both as an assistant and head coach. During that time, he has been the primary coach for floor exercise and vault. He was also the recruiting coordinator during most of his time as an assistant. Prior to being promoted to head coach, he was honored in 2007 and 2012 as the South Central Regional Assistant Coach of the Year
His focus on vault could be seen last year when the team made an 18-place improvement in the national rankings before the season was halted by COVID-19. That improvement included senior Maddi Leydin introducing a higher-scoring vault that lifted her to All-Pac-12 First Team for the event.
In his short time as a head coach, Court’s program has produced one All-American. Chrissy Berg was a second-team All-American on the uneven bars in 2019.
During his time as an assistant, the program produced six more All-Americans. Chief among them was the late Heidi Hornbeek. She was crowned an All-American six times, won the 2001 AAI Award for the top senior gymnast in the country, and was a national champion on floor exercise before going on to a career as a surgeon.
The program’s all-time leading scorer, Monica Bisordi, also competed for the GymCats during Court’s tenure as an assistant coach. Bisordi earned 2,120.790 points as an all-around competitor from 2002 through 2005.
Court came to Arizona for the 1998-99 season as an assistant to head coach Bill Ryden after a three-year stint as the head coach at the University of Vermont. When Vermont ended its varsity gymnastics program, Court came out West and found a home.
Ryden retired in 2015, but that wasn’t the end of Court’s time as an Arizona assistant. Instead, he continued under former head coach Tabitha Yim. He finally got his opportunity to lead the program when Yim returned to coach her alma mater at conference rival Stanford in August 2017.
Court served as the interim head coach of the GymCats for most of the 2017-18 season before being made the permanent head coach in March 2018.
He grew up around gymnastics, although he was never a gymnast. Instead, he followed his mother Jackie Court into coaching the sport.
Jackie was a legend in women’s sports. She was responsible for getting gymnastics off the ground at Brown University in 1969, three years before Title IX was enacted, and went on to coach the program for 30 years. She was also instrumental in fighting for women’s rights to equitable treatment under the provisions of Title IX after it was passed. Court served as one of her assistants at Brown before moving on to Vermont.
Court is coaching his first season without his mother, whom he once called both his biggest fan and his harshest critic. She regularly made trips from her home in Rhode Island to watch his teams at Arizona, but passed away at the age of 81 on April 12, 2020, Easter Sunday.