August marked the anniversaries of several ASU head coaches. Among those are ASU’s longest tenured head coaches in John Spini (women’s gymnastics/33rd year/hired August 16, 1980) and Sheila McInerney (women’s tennis/29th year/hired August 16, 1984).
Going into his 33rd season as head coach of the ASU gymnastics program, John Spini has sent his Sun Devil teams to 21 NCAA Championships and has had at least one Sun Devil represent ASU at the NCAA Championships 26 out of 32 seasons. With 33 years at the helm of the Sun Devil gymnastics program, Spini is now the longest tenured head coach in Arizona State history, surpassing former women’s tennis coach Anne Pittman who was here for 31 seasons. Spini has coached 27 All-Americans for a total of 81 All-American accolades. Six women have won individual NCAA titles under Spini. Additionally, nine of Spini’s Sun Devil squads have finished in the top five at the NCAA Championships, including four teams (1983, 1985, 1986, 1997) who were runner-up. A four-time Pac-10 Coach of the Year, Spini’s athletes have achieved a total of 27 perfect 10.0 in his career. He has had win streaks of 15 (22 opponents), 16 (28 opponents) and 25 (39 opponents) in his career. As ASU’s head coach, he carries a 341-186-2 record.
Sheila McInerney enters her 29th season at the helm of the Sun Devil program. McInerney has led the Sun Devils to 18 NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances, and eight quarterfinal appearances in her tenure. She has made the NCAA tournament in 26 of her 28 seasons. McInerney’s Sun Devils made their 25th consecutive NCAA Championship appearance in 2012.
Also celebrating their coaching anniversaries this month are Louie Quintana (Cross Country (M)/Ninth Year/hired Aug. 18, 2004) and Todd Clapper (Water Polo/Eighth Year/hired on August 3, 2005).
Both head coaches had made prominent national programs in a place where there wasn’t much to brag about before their arrivals.
Since Quintana’s hiring (he has actually been with the program for 11 years after beginning as a graduate assistant), 17 of his student-athletes have combined for 43 All-America awards and four individual NCAA Championships. Prior to Quintana, Sun Devils had combined for just 38 All-America honors in the distance and cross country events on both the men’s and women’s sides in history (dating back to 1942).
And what Clapper has done in his first seven years is quite impressive with the Sun Devil water polo team. In a sport that not many expect to thrive in the desert, Clapper has produced a powerhouse team consistently ranked in the top six or seven teams in the nation.
In 2012, Clapper earned his 200th career victory and 100th at the helm of the Sun Devil program as he led the team to a school record 25 wins and just six losses as the squad took home a program-best fifth-place finish in the final national poll.
Clapper has taken the team from its infancy (it became a varsity sport just 11 years ago) and made a much-respected program on both the national and international stage. Three of Clapper’s student-athletes (alum Rowie Webster, current Sun Devil Gao Ao and incoming frosh Rita Keszthelyi) represented their home nations (Australia, China and Hungary, respectively) in the 2012 London Olympics, marking the first time in the program’s young history that it had seen any Sun Devils compete on the grandest stage.
Let’s all wish these great coaches a wonderful anniversary and many more years of success leading our Sun Devils to greatness!