Gymnastics coach inspires students for more than 50 years

Well into his seventies, Walter Dodge continues to teach gymnastics to Syracuse University students.

Today Walter Dodge is 78 years old, still teaching and mentoring gymnastics students at Syracuse University.

Dodge’s love for gymnastics began in Philadelphia, in the eighth grade. All the guys on his track team were poll volters and gymnasts." It was simple, he saw kids older than him doing something that he had told himself he could also do. One day during track practice it began to rain and Dodge's teamates, went to the gymnastics practice room.

Photo: TaiSonya Tidwell
Syracuse University's Walter Dodge speaks about his love for gymnastics.

“I could do the things that they could except I landed on my fanny and they landed on their feet, but they were encouraging they said hey, you could do this so I stayed in, and stayed with it,” said Dodge.

Walt Dodge's gymnastics journey gained him a scholarship to Syracuse University in 1956 for a bachelor’s degree in physical education. He joined the gymnastics team and later became the team captain. In 1967 Dodge became a graduate student of education, and upon graduation, he started coaching the men’s gymnastics team at the university. He became the assistant head coach of the men’s gymnastics team, and afterward head coach from 1980-1997. He has been at Syracuse University ever since. In 1997 gymnastics was dropped from Syracuse University's athletics program for financial reasons, but Walt continues to teach gymnastics classes to students of all skill levels.

“I guess the most important part is sharing my expertise or what ever you want to call it, with the gymnasts”, said Dodge His 59 years of service and mentorship at the University earned him the 2013 Honor Coach Award at the tournament banquet before the NCAA men’s gymnastics tournament.

“I guess those are the most difficult if a student struggles with something and they don’t succeed.“ Dodge continues to encourage and recommend that students practice gymnastics in a safe way.

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