Gymnastics: Jefferson alum Doug Amundsen inducted into Midwest Amateur Gymnastics Association Hall of Fame
Amundsen got his start in gymnastics helping out the Jefferson High School team in the early 80s and has been a staple for the New Prague Gymnastics community.
Jefferson High School (now Alexandria Area High School) alum (1984) Doug Amundsen has made a name for himself coaching gymnastics at New Prague.
He’s helped coach eight individual state champions and has propelled New Prague to four state titles, including a 2023 MSHSL Class AA State title (New Prague’s first in Class AA).
And his work has now been recognized as he was inducted into the Midwest Amateur Gymnastics Association (MAGA) Hall of Fame on May 7, 2023.
“I’m very humbled,” he said in an interview with the Echo Press. “The association was actually partly founded by a good friend of mine from New Prague, Craig Sundberg.”
Amundsen said he was notified of being inducted into the MAGA Hall of Fame in January.
Amundsen is currently an assistant coach for the New Prague High School gymnastics team and is the director of the New Prague Gymnastics club.
“I ran the club 90 board, and I can take the club over in 2007,” Amundsen said. “I am still the program director for the club. Back in. Two years ago, we hired a team director, and he (Darrell Christenson) has now taken over as the head coach of the club team, and I was the head coach of the high school from 2013 to 2019.”
Christenson was actually the one to announce Amundsen as an inductee in the ceremony on May 7, 2023.
Amundsen got his start in gymnastics in 1981, serving as a spotter for the Jefferson High School team as a sophomore.
“The coaches at that time were Sue Bellevue and Kathleen Rittenour, and another person who played a big part in me becoming a coach was Jerry Amundson,” Amundsen said.
Amundsen said that one of his former gymnasts, Hannah Piehl (2014), is helping out with the gymnastics club in Alexandria.
Amundsen arrived in New Prague after spending a year of school at Bemidji State, then went for four years at Minnesota State-Moorhead before arriving in New Prague in 1990.
“My favorite part about the sport, I guess I would say, is what it gives to you and these young ladies,” Amundsen said. “The self-confidence, the self-esteem, the ability to not necessarily have to follow stereotypes. The typical stereotype of a gymnast is a very small fit, strong, flexible person. But there are so many gymnasts that just are not that have competed at an extremely high level. It doesn't matter what level, and we have been blessed to have very high level gymnasts here. Regardless of the level, when the girls get a new skill, and they really get it, they understand it, and they the excitement in their eyes; I think that is what just keeps me going.”