Yee shows love for gymnastics as coach

Susan Filkins

Constantly reminding him of his glory days as a Gopher, men’s assistant gymnastics coach Brian Yee watches practice from the sidelines, vicariously re-living his memories through his gymnasts.
Yee, a native of Houston, Tex., came to Minnesota in 1992. Over the course of four years, he established himself as one of the best to ever compete as a Gopher. His credentials speak for themselves.
In his senior season, Yee finished seventh in the all-around at the NCAA championships. He finished second in the all-around at Big Tens the same year. Yee finished his career as a member of the 1995 U.S. National Team.
With aspirations of qualifying for the 1996 Olympic Games, Yee spent last year working out with the Gophers and volunteering as an assistant coach.
In training with former Gopher and 1996 Olympian John Roethlisberger, Yee said he felt his opportunity to reach Atlanta last summer was possible. But a poor showing at Nationals prevented him from grabbing his dream.
“I was having a really good summer of training,” Yee said. “John is a phenomenal person to work out with, and I thought it would all come together. But I had a really bad Nationals. I guess that is where my career ended.”
Competing is now in Yee’s past, but his love for the sport is not. While finishing prerequisite courses in naturopathic medicine, Yee said he figured volunteer coaching would be a great opportunity to keep in touch with the sport. When Gophers coach Fred Roethlisberger asked Yee to coach, he accepted.
Yee doesn’t perceive himself as a coach, though. He said he’s more of a big brother.
“A lot of it is watching them grow up and seeing them go through what I was going through,” Yee said. “Hopefully I can have some positive influence on some part of their life outside of the gym as well as inside.”
The Gophers response to Yee is a testament to the bond between the gymnasts and their assistant coach. It is a bond of which Roethlisberger is grateful.
“He is younger and is able to relate to the guys and motivate them,” Roethlisberger said. “The attitude he gives out has been a major portion of it. He has the opportunity to teach and has a good relationship with the guys.”
Roethlisberger said he wants Yee to stay with the Gophers and take a full-time assistant coaching position, which must be filled by next year. Yee, however, is not sure coaching is for him.
With his training days behind him, Yee says life without gymnastics has allowed him to explore his options for the future.
“It was always taken for granted that gymnastics was here this year and next year and beyond,” Yee said. “Now, to step away from it gives you a different perspective on everything, and it is easier now for me to focus on other things career-wise.”
Yee said this year’s young team has the potential to do great things.
“They are naive in the respect that they don’t know how far they can go, which is good because then there are no limits,” Yee said.
The No. 12 Gophers (1-1) travel to Albuquerque, N.M., on Saturday to compete against No. 9 New Mexico (1-2) and UC-Santa Barbara (3-4).