Lou Burkel Named CGA Regional Coach of the Year
WEST POINT, N.Y. -- Air Force men's gymnastics head coach Lou Burkel was honored with a pair of awards from the Collegiate Gymnastics Association (CGA) at the 2005 NCAA Championship banquet on April 6, including the West Region Coach of the Year award.
The CGA honored Burkel with his third CGA regional coach of the year award. The former president of the CGA (1989-91) claimed his previous honors in 1989 and 1992, taking the Midwest regional awards. Due to a realignment of the regions, 2005 marked Burkel's first West regional honor.
In addition, he was awarded the Richard M. Aronson Special Service Awards. Burkel, who is retiring in August after 30 years of service to the Air Force Academy and collegiate gymnastics, was the recipient of an award which honors individuals who have provided exceptional service to the CGA. The award is named from Richard Aronson, long-time CGA Executive Director, for his untiring devotion to, and efforts on behalf of, the CGA.
Burkel has been active in collegiate gymnastics for over 30 years. He served two terms as vice president and president of the National Association of Collegiate Gymnastics Coaches (Collegiate Gymnastics Association). He is in his 22nd year as chairman of the CGA All-America Awards Committee. He is also chairman of the NCAA Gymnastics Committee, where he previously served for eight years as a member and three years as chairman. Burkel is a member of the USA Gymnastics Board of Directors and is also a member of the USAG Grievance Committee.
After being commissioned a second lieutenant in the Air Force, Burkel attended undergraduate navigator training and navigator-bombardier training at Mather AFB, Calif. He then served as a B-52 navigator, radar navigator, instructor and evaluator in Strategic Air Command at March AFB, Calif., and Carswell AFB, Texas. Between March 1971 and October 1973, he flew 197 B-52 combat missions in Southeast Asia from Anderson AFB, Guam, and U Tapao Field, Thailand. He holds a master navigator rating with over 3300 hours flying time. Burkel's numerous decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross, with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Serves Medal, with two oak leaf clusters and the Air Medal, with twelve oak leaf clusters.
Burkel holds a bachelor of science degree in physical education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and a master of arts degree in education from the University of Northern Colorado. At Nebraska, Burkel earned four letters as an all-around competitor and was a member of the Huskers' undefeated and Big Eight Championship teams. He taught physical education and coached boy's gymnastics at Omaha South High School from 1964-1967, before beginning his career in the United States Air Force.