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Gymnastics coach Cristi Westcott calls it a career after 40 years leading Mountain View

Longtime coach calls time to retire “bittersweet”

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: February 17, 2024, 5:50pm
2 Photos
Mountain View coach Cristi Westcott (right) congratulates Analise Jaso after her bars routine during Saturday's 3A/2A district gymnastics meet at Naydenov Gymnastics. Westcott is retiring after 40 years as Mountain View's coach.
Mountain View coach Cristi Westcott (right) congratulates Analise Jaso after her bars routine during Saturday's 3A/2A district gymnastics meet at Naydenov Gymnastics. Westcott is retiring after 40 years as Mountain View's coach. (Meg Wochnick/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Even at a surprise ceremony in her honor to celebrate nearly 50 years involved in local gymnastics as an athlete, coach and judge, Cristi Westcott still wanted the spotlight to be on the athletes.

“This is about the kids, but I sure enjoyed all these people coming here to tell me they remembered me for all these years,” Westcott said.

Saturday, following the 3A/2A district gymnastics meet at Naydenov Gymnastics, meet organizers surprised Westcott, Mountain View High School’s longtime gymnastics coach, to pay tribute to her legacy and her soon-to-be retirement. Next week, she’ll retire after 40 years as the Thunder’s gymnastics coach, and 42 years coaching high school gymnastics. 

“It’s bittersweet,” Westcott told The Columbian.

Current and former coaches, administrators, athletes and supporters gave their well-wishes to a longstanding familiar face of Southwest Washington gymnastics. Leta Meyer, who was Mountain View’s volleyball and girls basketball coach when Westcott was hired at a time when the school had few female coaches, presented Westcott with a plaque on behalf of the Greater St. Helens League on 40 years of coaching. She also shared a letter on behalf of former Mountain View athletic director Adam Mathieson.

Matt Stanfill, former Battle Ground High athletic director and gymnastics coach, spoke about how easy it would be to list Westcott’s numerous accolades and accomplishments over the years, “but knowing Cristi the way I do,” Stanfill said, “I believe you’d give it all back to make sure your kids know you loved and cared for them.”

Mountain View has been a nearly one-stop legacy for Westcott. Forty of her 42 years coaching high school gymnastics are at Mountain View. When the school opened for the 1981-82 school year, Thunder gymnasts practiced and competed under the name “Ever-View” alongside Evergreen. Westcott was hired in 1984 when Mountain View formed its own program independently of Evergreen and she’s led the Thunder ever since. 

Did she imagine she’d coach at one school for 40 years? Not exactly. 

“I think it was kind of my life,” said Westcott, 63. “I’ve had lots of things that have happened in my life over the years that probably I wouldn’t have gotten through without gymnastics, because that was my stability.”

There’s been plenty of highlights, too. The hall-of-famer gave the example of how in the late 1980s, her Mountain View teams used their depth to win five consecutive district team titles. What made Westcott proud, too, is that Mountain View has been a program known for not having high numbers of gymnasts with backgrounds in club gymnastics. 

In fact, Westcott said, the challenge of turning an athlete into a gymnast is one of the reasons she continued to coach as the years went on. 

“And I was up for the challenge,” she said. “I was going to make them a gymnast, and my gosh, pretty much every single one of them became a gymnast. If they stuck with it, they became a gymnast and they competed.”

That includes this season. Of her team’s five gymnasts, two had no previous gymnastics experience. Saturday, the Thunder finished fourth in the team standings. Mountain View is sending two gymnasts — Anna Simal and Anna Pena Molina — to state. 

Next week is the state meet at Sammamish High School, the final meet in a career that had a small glimpse of 40 years shown Saturday. 

“I’m blessed with a lot of thank-yous and a lot of appreciation,” Westcott said.

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