The Cal women’s gymnastics coaching staff swept the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association’s regional coach of the year honors, claiming three honors for Cal. Justin Howell and Elisabeth Crandall-Howell, spouses and co-head coaches, were named the Region 6 Coaches of the Year. Assistant coach Janelle McDonald is the Region 6 Assistant Coach of the Year.
Together, this coaching trio guided the Cal women’s gymnastics team to a No. 9 national ranking, marking one of the Bears’ most successful seasons on record despite its premature ending.
When Crandall-Howell began coaching for Cal in 2012, the team ranked No. 49 nationally. In 2016, the Bears clocked in at No. 7 nationally. This 33-place rise in two seasons is the largest margin of improvement in NCAA women’s gymnastics history. In 2015 and 2016, she was named the regional Assistant Coach of the Year.
Howell also arrived at Cal in 2012 and has since broken the record for the most meet victories of any women’s gymnastics head coach in Cal’s history. In his eight seasons as head coach, he has been named Coach of the Year five times.
McDonald, who has taken the lead on uneven bars, guided Cal to a 49.575 season record on bars, a score that matched Cal’s program record.
The coaching team’s individualistic coaching styles and emphasis on overall fitness and nutrition, as well as character development, may be responsible for Cal’s success.
“Justin and Liz genuinely care about you,” said senior gymnast Rachael Mastrangelo. “They are good coaches in the gym and outside of the gym.”
Sarah Siegel covers women’s gymnastics. Contact her at