Abilene ISD Executive Director of Athletics Jim Garfield announced that Nyki Richardson has been named the girls’ gymnastics head coach for both Abilene and Cooper high schools. Brandon Cooke, who served as the interim head coach for all four programs last season after the untimely death of former head coach C.J. Jackson, will be the boys’ head coach for both schools.

Richardson was previously the head girls’ gymnastics coach at AHS from 2002-04, finishing third in the district in both years and taking three student-athletes to the state meet. She was an assistant volleyball, soccer, and track and field coach from 2004-21 before returning to the gymnastics program in 2021-22 where she served as the assistant girls’ coach.

“Coach Richardson brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to our girls’ gymnastics program,” Garfield said. “She has a passion for gymnastics, and I believe Coach Richardson will bring tremendous energy and excitement to our girls’ program.”

Richardson is an AISD alum, graduating from Cooper High School before attending McMurry University. She was a cheerleader as a freshman and a student athletics trainer for all four years. She also coached girls at the Gymnastics Sports Center from 1992-98. She has been teaching and coaching in the AISD for the last 23 years: four years at Franklin Middle School and the last 19 at AHS.

“I am beyond excited for this opportunity and working with the kids and Coach Cooke,” Richardson said. “I don’t think I am speaking for myself but also Coach Cooke when I say I want the program to stay as strong and successful in honor of Coach Jackson, who is missed every day. I am so proud of Coach Cooke and the gymnasts and how they all handled that unimaginable event in their lives. Building on what Coach Jackson started and putting into action some of his visions for the program are goals I have set to achieve.

“Coaching any sport is an honor,” she said. “Every kid that I have coached becomes ‘my kid,’ and all I want is what is best for them and to succeed in life. When they are successful in life, I feel like I’ve done my job.”