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UCLA gymnastics brings on new assistant coaches to complete coaching staff

Members of UCLA gymnastics form a huddle. The Bruins announced their new assistant coaches Tuesday morning after hiring Janelle McDonald as head coach in early May. (Lauren Man/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sam Settleman

June 28, 2022 11:37 a.m.

This post was updated July 4 at 8:35 p.m.

The Bruins are hitting the reset button for the 2023 season.

After hiring Janelle McDonald to replace former coach Chris Waller as head coach in early May, UCLA gymnastics has hired its new assistant coaches, the team announced Tuesday morning. The Bruins brought on BJ Das and Kyle Grable as McDonald’s assistant coaches – replacing Kristina Comforte and Dom Palange – and Autumn Grable will join the squad as a volunteer assistant coach.

Das – a former volunteer assistant coach with the blue and gold for three seasons – is the lone returning member of last season’s coaching staff, with Waller, Comforte and Palange all having departed in the past two months.

McDonald said she hopes her staff can bring new life to Westwood in what she described as the next chapter of the program.

“With this staff, I am more confident than ever that together with our student-athletes we can create something really special in this next chapter of UCLA Gymnastics,” McDonald said in a statement released by UCLA Athletics.

In her three seasons with the program thus far, Das has primarily served as the team’s choreographer while also working behind the scenes in marketing and team building. She has assisted in producing multiple viral floor routines throughout her tenure with UCLA and has aided in creating floor routines that have garnered Pac-12 championship honors.

While Das boasts three years of experience with the Bruins and four years in the collegiate ranks, Kyle and Autumn Grable will be new to the collegiate scene. Like McDonald, the two have built experience coaching at the club level.

The duo will be making the journey to Westwood from Indianapolis, where they have spent the past five years serving as co-head coaches for elite development at Jaycie Phelps Athletic Center. Prior to their tenure at JPAC, Kyle and Autumn Grable assisted as coaches at Gym-Nation in Ohio.

Across their time in the club ranks, Kyle and Autumn Grable have coached numerous level 10 champions. 

“The success Kyle has had with his club team and athletes over the years shows his ability to coach high-level and technical gymnastics,” McDonald said in the statement. “He has a great reputation in the gymnastics community because of the positivity and enthusiasm that he brings into each day.”

McDonald added that Autumn Grable – who will replace Das in the volunteer assistant role – will help with the development of the team’s culture and serve as UCLA’s primary coach on beam.

“Autumn’s coaching experience, paired with her ability to be organized and creative in her approach, makes her the perfect fit to lead our beam team,” McDonald said in the statement.

With a brand new coaching staff at the helm for the 2023 season, the Bruins will have the opportunity to qualify to the NCAA championships for the first time since 2019. McDonald said her primary goal in hiring her new staff was finding coaches who see the team’s student-athletes as people first.

“Building a culture full of integrity, hard work, inclusivity and empathy for our student-athletes needed to come second nature to the coaches on this staff,” McDonald said in the statement.

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Sam Settleman | Sports editor
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
Settleman is currently the Sports editor on the football, men's basketball and gymnastics beats. He was previously an assistant editor on the gymnastics, women's soccer, women's golf, men's water polo and women's water polo beats and a contributor on the gymnastics and women's water polo beats.
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