LOGAN, Utah – Utah State Athletics officially unveiled the new name of its gymnastics practice facility, located in the Health, Physical Education and Recreation building last week.
The facility is now named the Ray Corn Gymnastics Training Facility in recognition of the impact that Corn made on Utah State Gymnastics, the student-athletes he coached and Cache Valley as a whole.
“We are so thrilled to have a weekend welcoming back the Aggie gymnastics family to celebrate the life and legacy and Ray Corn,” said USU head coach Amy Smith. “We are so happy and proud to have so many alumni come this weekend with their show of support. We are also very excited and proud of the gym dedication in Ray’s name. He meant a lot to Utah State gymnastics, and Cache Valley as a whole, and I am so thrilled the university has decided to honor him in this way.”
The naming was unveiled Saturday as part of a Ray Corn Tribute event featuring Utah State gymnastics alumni and Aggie supporters.
“My husband, Ray, was a man of honor, integrity, conviction, love and passion for Utah State gymnastics,” said Shelly Corn, the late wife of Ray. “He loved coaching and will live on through all those he mentored and coached. He is truly a legendary coach.”
Last Friday, the 20th-ranked Aggies swept Mountain Rim Gymnastics Conference-rival Southern Utah, ranked No. 24, and Ball State. Utah State gymnasts wore “RC” patches on their warmups and donned “RC” temporary tattoos in memory of Corn while they competed.
No. 20 Utah State (7-3, 3-1 MRGC) recorded a 196.425 to finish first in front of 1,824 fans Friday night at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum. The 24th-ranked Thunderbirds (3-5, 1-4 MRGC) took second with a 195.550 and the Cardinals (4-7-1, 0-2-0 MAC) placed third with a 194.350.
“It was a special night, and I’m just so grateful that we were able to light the A blue for Ray and get two more wins at home,” said fifth-year Utah State head coach Amy Smith. “It was so special to really celebrate him tonight with a win.”
Southern Utah head coach Scotty Bauman, who is in his 31st season as head coach of the Thunderbirds, is a 1990 graduate of Utah State. He cut his coaching teeth under the tutelage of Corn as he helped develop the Aggies into a national power. Bauman spent seven years as both an undergraduate and graduate assistant in Logan.
“Ray’s impact on the sport is deep and will last for a very long time,” Bauman said. “He taught me everything I know about coaching and I’m not the only one. There are numerous coaches both in the developmental and collegiate arenas that owe their careers to Ray. I started coaching with Ray in 1984. He wasn’t just my mentor during those years, but one of my best friends. I could always count on Ray to give me sound advice when I needed it, and I needed a lot. He taught me to deeply care for my athletes as people and realize they will make mistakes. The important thing is how you handle those mistakes that make you a good coach or a great coach.”
Video segments recounting Corn’s impact on Utah State, Aggie alumni and the gymnastics community were played throughout the meet.
Corn transitioned the gymnastics program from club level to NCAA status, serving as the Aggies’ head coach for 31 years before retiring in 2008. He had an overall record of 448-448-2 (.500), including a regular-season mark of 342-260-2 (.566), and led USU to the postseason 26 times, five of which culminated at the national championships. In 1991, Utah State finished 12th as a team at the NCAA Championships.
“Ray put his heart and soul into building the Utah State gymnastics program,” said Josh Nilson, Corn’s son-in-law. “This team was his first love. Knowing that his legacy will live on at Utah State is an incredible thing for all of us. Ray was one of a kind and he loved Utah State.”
Nilson, the head coach at Temple, was the first assistant coach at Utah State from 2013-16, and the head coach for vault and bars. During his time as an undergraduate at Utah State, Nilson was a student-coach from 2005-08. He then spent three years as the second assistant coach before heading to Texas Woman’s University and returning to Utah in 2013.
In 1978, Corn took a club-level Utah State gymnastics team and transformed it into an Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) power, finishing 30-4 in his first season. The next year, the Aggies made the first of four consecutive trips to the AIAW National Championships, finishing as high as ninth in 1982.
During his USU coaching career, Corn led the Aggies to four Big West Conference championships (1992, 1996, 1998, 2001) and the 2005 Western Gymnastics Conference championship.
Overall, Corn coached three All-Americans, three Olympians, three World University Game Trials competitors and nine NCAA national qualifiers, and was a six-time conference coach of the year (1986, 1987, 1988, 1994, 1998, 2001), along with being named the 1991 Midwest Regional Coach of the Year.
Between 1991 and his retirement in 2008, 32 gymnasts earned academic All-America honors a total of 50 times under Corn, while 92 gymnasts received academic all-conference accolades. Furthermore, Corn’s 1990 team won the NCAA Academic Championship for the highest team grade point average in the nation.
Corn was inducted into the Utah State Athletics Hall of Fame as part of the 13th class in September of 2015. He was also inducted into the National Association of College Professors of Phi Kappa Phi.
For more information on the Utah State gymnastics program, follow the Aggies on Twitter at @USUGymnastics, on Facebook at UtahStateGymnastics and on Instagram at USUGymnastics.
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