Brice Biggin’s legacy reaches far beyond this season

Tyler Goddard

Since its inception, the Kent State gymnastics program has been one of the premier programs in the Mid-American Conference.

Rudy and Janet Bachna started the program in 1964. Their career coaching the team spanned from 1964-1991 with a record of 304-150.

Kent State coach Brice Biggin took over as head coach at the start of the 1991-92 season. Since then, he has won well nearly 300 himself.

When Biggin was hired, his goal was to continue to be successful in the MAC.

“I wanted to continue the tradition of trying to get the team to Regionals and to win some MAC Championships,” Biggin said. “Also, I had gotten an opportunity to go watch a couple NCAA National Championships, and obviously as a younger coach that is something you’d like to see yourself doing one day is taking the team to a National Championship.”

In the 1990s, Kent State went a few years where they nearly qualified for Nationals.

That’s when Biggin’s focus shifted to trying to make it every year.

Assistant coach Sharon Sabin has been on Biggin’s staff for eight years. She said one of his greatest attributes is that he is a thinker and is very methodical.

“I myself am very impulsive more so that we balance each other out,” she said. “He has a really good way of getting the most out of kids whether its through working hard or having moral standards or good academics. He is patient and takes his time with things.”

In his first couple years, Biggin said he was lucky because he was able to recruit a lot of girls with good work ethic, and slowly the program began to take a jump into the regional and national scene.

“I think what Brice has brought to the program over the years is consistency,” said Tom Ward, who is finishing his third season on Biggin’s staff. “I think he teaches all of us different things such as attention to detail and expectations for the kids.”

Before Biggin became the head coach, he graduated from Kent State with a bachelor’s degree in physical education and a minor in coaching in 1983. He returned to Kent State from 1985-87 to receive his Master’s Degree in sports administration. He became a graduate assistant and then eventually an assistant coach for the women’s team from 1987-91.

However, Biggin began his gymnastics-coaching career by volunteering at a private club in Youngstown in 1981.

“You really have to develop kids from ground zero and teach them skills, and I think what has made our program best is we’ve brought coaches in who understand how to teach skills,” he said. “We haven’t attracted the elite athlete. But we’ve brought in good kids with good skills, and we’ve continued to work on improving their skills and making them better, and that in the long-term has helped our team get better at the same time.

“The thing I’ve always tried to instill on the kids is that you have to be responsible for your actions. We hold our athletes in probably higher expectations than other people do.”

For the rest of his coaching career, Biggin will maintain the expectation that the girls and the team will always remain the same, and the team will continue to try and reach its goals that are set.

Contact Tyler Goddard at [email protected]