Since Kristen Smyth arrived as head coach in 2002, the Stanford women's gymnastics team has had unprecedented success. Smyth enters her 15th season with the Cardinal in 2015-16 and numbers tell much of the story:
• Of Stanford's 110 All-America honors, 89 have come in Smyth's tenure.
• There have been 74 NACGC/W Scholastic All-American honors in that span.
• Smyth has coached the Cardinal into the NCAA Super Six finals seven times - Stanford had never advanced that far before - and finished among the top-four four times.
• Of Stanford's 11 NCAA top-10 finishes, Smyth has coached the team to 10 of them.
• The four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year has a career regular season record of 218-68-2, which more than doubles the number of victories by any other coach in the program's 37-year history.
• Stanford is coming off season in which it returned to the NCAA Championships for the eighth time in nine seasons.
• Stanford had seven All-Americans in 2012, the most in school history.
Smyth not only has coached Stanford to great success, but has done so in her own unique style. It's no coincidence that the two go hand-in-hand.
Besides being challenged in gym every day, Stanford gymnasts are not one dimensional. The team is active in the community, with service projects such as building homes for Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at the Lytton Gardens retirement community and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital. Of course, there is also cross training, team-building retreats, and the annual Halloween costume extravaganza.
Yes, Stanford wins. And, yes, Stanford enjoys itself.
"The one thing that stood out most to people who watched our team perform and compete was that our girls had so much fun," Smyth said.
Smyth realizes that a true team concept may be foreign to many young gymnasts, but it is emphasized from the start at Stanford.
"The entire SWG experience is about building relationships over time and having the student-athletes feel like they're part of a family," Smyth said. "They need to know that we care about them not only in the gym, but in their lives as well."
Smyth has created a fun environment that is also challenging and dynamic, and prepares them so well for the pressure they will face at the end of the season to the point where there is no worry or lack of confidence. The work has been put in.
Part of what makes the program so unique is Smyth's approach, a program based on six principles: family, belief, balance, passion, commitment and courage. The goal is to foster individual and collective excellence without compromising their love of the sport or narrowing their horizons or academic potential.
Cardinal gymnasts have bought in. None have transferred out of Stanford during Smyth's tenure, and her program has a 100 percent graduation rate.
Smyth now returns for her 15th season following a successful 2015 season in which the Cardinal earned its eighth trip to the NCAA Championships in nine seasons.
In addition, six Stanford gymnasts won Scholastic All-American honors in 2012 for having grade-point averages of 3.50 or above.
Smyth arrived at Stanford in 2002 from Arizona State, where she spent five seasons (1997-2001), the final three as associate head coach. In 1998, she was named Regional Assistant Coach of the Year.
With Smyth, the Sun Devils made three Super Six appearances, with national finishes of second (1997), fourth ('99), and sixth ('98). Sun Devil gymnasts earned 14 All-America honors – seven on beam and seven on floor - in the events Smyth coached directly.
Prior to that, Smyth spent three years as a professional dancer in the Bay Area. While growing up, Smyth moved often as a child in a military family before graduating from Maryknoll School in Honolulu. She went on to Cal where she was a three-time All-American and three-time Academic All-American, and led the Bears to their best-ever national finish (eighth in 1992). She became the first gymnast inducted into the Cal Athletic Hall of Fame, in 2008.
Smyth and her husband, Scott Green, have a daughter, Maya, and sons, Zach and Noah.