Former men's gymnastics captain Andy Morreale returns to NIU as women's assistant



August 20, 2002

DeKALB, IL - From his gym in nearby Sycamore, Andy Morreale has witnessed and contributed to the development of the Northern Illinois University women's gymnastics program. Now the four-year letterwinner for the Huskie men's team in the early 1980's will be involved first-hand as head coach Mark Sontag has named Morreale his assistant coach.

Morreale's appointment to the women's program marks his second tenure as a coach at Northern Illinois. A former team captain, he joined his former coach Chuck Ehrlich's staff with the men's program for two seasons from 1985-86. With two years of collegiate coaching experience under his belt, Morreale ventured out on his own by opening Gym-Kats, Inc. which became the Energym Sports Campus in 1997.

"I'm very excited about this opportunity," Morreale said. "The university has changed so much from when I was there 20 years ago. It's a bitter sweet return for me because we no longer have the men's program. I look forward to working with Mark and my brother Sam, who competed here and will be a volunteer assistant for us, in building a strong tradition on the women's side like we had with the men's team."

Over two decades ago Morreale's association with Northern Illinois began as a student-athlete after graduating from Addison Trail High School. During his four years with the Huskies, NIU twice placed in the top ten at the NCAA Championships, highlighted by a sixth-place showing at the 1982 summit. The following year, the Huskies were once again among the country's elite with their eighth-place performance. Away from DeKalb, Morreale took 13th at the United States Gymnastics Federation's 1983 Midwest Regional and competed at the Championships of USA from 1982-85.

"Andy has been producing college level gymnast for a long time," Sontag said. "I've recruited his gymnast here and when I was at Southeast Missouri. The girls from his gym are always well rounded and have a good head on their shoulders. I have a lot of respect for his coaching technique and how he treats the athletes. Our coaching philosophies will complement each other in that our first priority is the athlete."

The quality of Morreale's coaching at the club level speaks for itself. Since he opened Gym-Kats in 1986, he has produced 25 state and regional champions while Amy Bohn qualified for the Junior Olympic National Team. She is just one of the numerous gymnasts who have earned individual medals throughout the years at the Junior National and Elite National competitions.

"The program he started at Energym has flourished and now he's ready to move on to the next level," Sontag added. "To be able to bring in a local alum, with that kind of talent, is a win-win situation for the Northern Illinois gymnastics program."

Named the USA Region 5 Coach of the Year in 1995, Morreale has had three of his gymnast go on to compete at Northern Illinois. The first was Stacy Kocourek, who competed from 1998-99, while current Huskie Kristie Woodin (Lake in the Hills / Jacobs) will be joined this year by freshman Kristin Harrington (West Dundee / Carpentersville Dundee Crown).

"I think it's going to be a great partnership between Energym and Northern Illinois," Morreale noted. "Through my work with the junior national team I've developed some great contacts in the region and nationally that I think will really benefit the team and the tremendous community support for NIU will help in the other sector."

The 40-year-old Morreale is married to the former Kim Seelenbinder of Elk Grove. The couple has three children, daughters Jessica, nine, and Allison, five, and a ten-year-old son Andrew. He graduated from Northern Illinois in 1985 with a bachelor of arts degree in business administration.

(For more information, contact Michael Smoose)


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