High hopes for first-year head coach Jay Clark’s LSU gymnastics squad

How do you replace a legend? It’s a question that has been on Jay Clark’s mind ever since he was tasked to take over for D-D Breaux as head coach of the LSU gymnastics team in August.

It goes without saying this wasn’t just your routine coaching change. Even outside of Baton Rouge, the longest tenured coach in SEC history doesn’t need much of an introduction. So, how does Clark hope to continue Breaux’s 43-year legacy? Well, ironically, by not trying to be D-D Breaux.

“If I wind up trying to be D-D Breaux, I will find myself failing in a lot of areas,” Clark says. “She’s part of a group of coaches of that generation that I would call the warrior class of our profession. This palace of a gym that I’m sitting in is a testament to her career and everything that she accomplished and contributed.”

Clark has spent the past seven years learning under her tutelage as the unofficial “head coach in waiting.” Today, Clark and the team aren’t shy about what that “next step” for the program is, either. After finishing four of the past five seasons as national runner-up, the Tigers are itching to get over the hump and grab the program’s first national championship.

In a feature from the January 2021 issue of 225, writer Mark Clements explores how Clark plans to help the team get there—and how life has changed for LSU’s student gymnasts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read on for the full feature.