By Don Wallace

sports@jacksonvilleprogress.com

No matter where you put the gym, Chuck Dickerson loves it.

Dickerson, a native Texan, thought long and hard about leaving his home to join the staff of the University of Kentucky.

‘I thought about it, I prayed over it,” Dickerson said. “I think it is the right thing for me to do. So I will be moving to Kentucky to be the assistant women’s coach and recruiter.:

The chance to practice his coaching skills he has accumulated over the past 24 years excites the 42-year-old coach.

“I’ll beat I have said ‘wow’ over a thousand times just in the past week,” Dickerson said with a laugh. “To get to coach a Division I program at a big university is something. It is a tremendous opportunity for me.”

Dickerson said he has had offers to coach at places outside the state, but the timing or the situation never seemed like a good fit.

“Mo Mitchell, the head coach at Kentucky, has been trying to get me to come up there for years,” Dickerson said. “We are friends, he knows and likes my coaching style. This time it seemed like the right thing to do.”

Dickerson, who has coached in Jacksonville, Tyler, Dallas and Kingwood said he is not hesitant about heading some 800 miles north to his new job.

“It’s not scary, it’s exciting,” Dickerson said. “Kentucky finished No. 23 in the nation and we want to improve on that. We’d like to be in the Top 20 and then work on getting in higher.”

Dickerson is being hired not only for his boundless energy and coaching knowledge, but for his experience and contacts coaching in Texas.

“I will be recruiting Texas,” Dickerson said. “That is another good part of the job. I will be down here trying to sign talent. There’s a lot of incredible gymnastic talent right here in Texas.”

One of the top talents is Texas East gym’s own Storey Morris. Morris is a junior at King’s Academy and is being pursued by the top gymnastics school in the nation, including Kentucky.

Dickerson called Morris, a “program changer.”

Dickerson change from a privately-owned gym to a Division I college will be a smooth transition he says.

“I coached seven girls in Kingwood, who went on to compete at the Division I level,” Dickerson said. “I like the age group. I think I communicate well with the athletes.”

Dickerson said, “It is a win/win situation. I have been blessed, I think this will all turn out well and I will be with the program for a while.”

He said he plans to finish his degree so he can one day pursue a head coaching job.

“I did not really have that much training when I started, “ Dickerson said. “I was just thrown in it and I loved it.’

Dickerson added, “I always played sports - football, baseball, whatever was in season. But I came back time-after-time to the gym. I just loved it from the time I was small to now. I loved competing and I love to coach and working with the kids.”

“I plan on enjoying life in Kentucky,” Dickerson said. “The NCAA only allows the athletes to work out 20 hours per week. So I will have to do my school work and some other things like a normal huma.”

Dickerson said, “My first day is June 15, I think Kentucky is a beautiful state, I look forward to starting up there. It is going to be awesome.”

Dickerson’s former employer, Texas East Gymnastics is sorry to see their friend and coach leave the nest.

“Chuck will do a fine job,” Kathy Parsley, co-owner said. “He’s experienced, he’s coached here and in Dallas, Houston and other places. He has had other opportunities - we are excited for him. I think this is a great chance for him.”

Martin Parsley head coach at Texas East Gymnastics in Tyler has known Dickerson as a friend and fellow coach for more than 20 years.

“We started coaching together in the mid 80s and its been a great run,” Martin Parsley said. “This is a happy day and a sad day, but one thing is for sure it’s not the end of the story. I think this is a great opportunity for Chuck for Texas East Gymnastics. We will keep putting good athletes out there for him to recruit. Chuck and I will always be friends and I am very proud for him. Now all he has to do is go win the SEC, the deepest conference in women’s gymnastics and get a head coaching job.”

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