Bruce Strand, Sports editor
Former Elk gymnast Jackie Deiley is the new head coach of the Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman squad that’s been a powerhouse in recent years under Jenn Bartlett, who resigned.
Jenny (Deiley) Vargas, Jackie’s sister, a former Michigan All-American, will be her assistant.
“This is a wonderful program and Jenn has done an outstanding job,” said Jackie Deiley. “We’ve got big shoes to fill. We are excited for the opportunity and hope to carry on the program’s success.”
Jackie Deiley, 25, a nurse, has coached Anoka for four years, where the program has small numbers due to girls opting for club gymnastics.
A 2005 Rogers graduate, she was an Elk gymnast under Bartlett, then attended College of St. Catherine.
Jenny Vargas, 28, competed with Twin Cities Twisters while attending ERHS. At Michigan she was All-America (top-12 finishes) 10 times and helped the Wolverines win three Big Ten titles. She is a manager in the family carpet business and coaches at TCT.
Bartlett was delighted to have the Deiley sisters succeed her, noting that their respective families are close.
“I am so excited about having Jackie and Jenny take over,” said Bartlett. “They will be so good for the program. Their contacts and their experience with clubs will be so helpful to the kids.”
Said activities director Mike Cunningham: “We are ecstatic to have such qualified coaches take over and build on the Elk tradition.”
The ERZ pairing has produced four straight conference titles and two individual state champions. The downside is that the team must split for section and state (the Rogers portion has gone to state twice).
Remaining on the staff will be assistant Rich Michalak.