‘Pipe dream’ made real: The long, fulfilling journey of Ursinus gymnastics coach Kim Valenti

Coaching at a summer gymnastics camp in Centre County changed her life’s direction
Ursinus College head gymnastics coach Kim Valenti.
Ursinus College head gymnastics coach Kim Valenti. Photo credit Ursinus Athletics

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio)Ursinus College head gymnastics coach Kim Valenti has had a passion for the sport since the not-so-ripe age of 3, when her mother enrolled her in a preschool in South Shore, Massachusetts that was operated out of a gymnastics club.

As she grew, she dabbled in other sports throughout the years, but gymnastics held a special place in her heart.

By age 8, she began practicing gymnastics more consistently and eventually worked her way up through the Junior Olympic program.

Fast forward about a decade, when Valenti went off to James Madison University with hopes of pursuing a career in teaching.

However, her summers spent coaching at Camp Woodward in Centre County, Pennsylvania caused a change of heart, and a path of making a "pipe dream" a reality.

“In the meantime, I was going to school for education. To be a high school history teacher was my game plan, and had always planned to go get my master's degree,” Valenti said.

“But it sort of became a pipe dream of ‘What if I could coach at the collegiate level?’ and started to see … there were graduate assistants and volunteer coaches and student-athletes that would graduate, and then stay and help out with their alma maters.”

By her senior year, she began looking into colleges where she could both pursue her master’s and also help out with a gymnastics program.

“Coaching just became something that I started really thinking bigger-picture about,” said Valenti.

Her journey has taken her from clubs and camps all the way to the university level.

After getting her master’s at Boston University in 2011 and serving as an assistant coach at MIT and Temple, she spent six years at Penn in both assistant coaching and administrative roles.

In 2018, Valenti landed a position as head gymnastics coach at NCAA Division III Ursinus in Collegeville, where she gets to apply her favorite aspect of coaching.

“The relationship building with the young women,” said Valenti.

“Whether it's gymnastic-specific and we're helping you achieve goals, or whether it's learning more about you as a person, learning what motivates you, learning your passions, and seeing you succeed … the relationships are certainly my favorite part.”

Listen to Matt’s full conversation with Valenti below in the latest 1-on-1 with Matt Leon podcast, and subscribe to it on the Audacy app or wherever you get your podcasts.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Ursinus Athletics