Rachelle Thompson begins her 11th season as part of the Auburn coaching staff and her fifth as the Tigers' associate head coach. She was previously a full-time assistant for three years and a volunteer assistant coach for three years. Thompson's primary responsibilities include coaching the balance beam and floor, and handling the choreography for both events. Thompson was honored as the NCAA Central Regional Assistant Coach of the Year two seasons ago.
With Thompson leading the way on beam, numerous records have been set individually and as a team. Every year, higher challenges are established from the season prior, only to be defeated during the season at hand. Thompson has coached Auburn gymnasts to all of the current top-team scores on beam and floor, including the majority of the individual high scores on her respective events. She has also coached two Tigers to perfection with a pair of 10.00's on beam.
The beam and floor scores during the 2009 campaign reflected what Thompson has accomplished in the past. The Tigers were ranked as high as No. 2 in the country on floor exercise during the 2009 season, and were ranked as high as No. 4 on the beam. Thompson was also instrumental in senior's Lindsay Puckett being ranked No. 6 in the nation on the floor exercise and Puckett being named to the Second-Team All-SEC squad. Fellow senior A.J. Mills was ranked consistently in the top 25 on beam throughout the season. Thompson also led sophomore Rachel Inniss to her first-career floor exercise meet title against Illinois-Chicago with a personal best of 9.900.
In 2008, three of the highest performances on beam came during the season, including a 49.425 at Denver. It was that same meet that Auburn legend Julie Dwyer earned the school's second-best beam score with a 9.950. Juniors Lindsey Puckett and A.J. Mills each notched a 9.925 in 2008 to put their names among the distinguished at Auburn.
All three were scattered throughout the national rankings. Dwyer was ranked second on beam for three straight weeks, while Puckett bounced around the top-10 for four weeks and Mills was listed among the top-20 nationally. As a team, Auburn closed out the season ranked fourth nationally on beam and 12th on floor.
Thompson coached Dwyer to a 9.950 on floor in 2007. Her efforts landed her name in the record books with the second-best score in Tiger history. Puckett also earned her spot among the best on floor in 2007 with a 9.925. The Tigers' maintained national prominence on beam throughout 2007, consistently being ranked among the top-10 nationally. The trio of Dwyer, Puckett and Mills found great success under Thompson's guidance. Combined, their names appear six times for best beam scores and three times on the floor. Dwyer earned All-American accolades in 2006 on beam, only the second gymnast in Auburn history to accomplish such a feat.
As a team in 2006, the Tigers were consistently ranked as one of the top-12 beam teams in the country, coming in as high as fifth. On floor, Auburn was rated as high as 10th and finished the season with a No. 11 national ranking.
Thompson helped the Tigers qualify a school-record four individuals: Dwyer, Courtney Puckett, Rachael Tarantino and Aimee Goheen, for the NCAA Championships in 2005. Auburn produced the beam champion and runner-up of the NCAA Central Regional, in Tarantino and Julie Dwyer, respectively. Dwyer went on to earn All-American status on vault. For the second year in a row, Tarantino tied her career high on the floor with a score of 9.950 against Texas Women's University. Her scores of 9.950 rank second for the highest score in Auburn history.
During Thompson's tenure, the Tigers have set new school records on the beam and the floor. Both marks occurred during the 2004 season when the Tigers scored a 49.600 on the beam at Centenary and a 49.600 on the floor against Florida.
Thompson has coached two Auburn gymnasts to a perfect 10.0. Sally Cantrell recorded a flawless score on beam against Centenary. Two years later against Centenary, Tarantino mirrored the feat with a 10.0 on beam.
The seasoned coach and former competitor brings a wealth of competitive and coaching experience to the Tigers' staff. Thompson's knowledge of the sport and reputation as a choreographer have been visible with the scores posted by Auburn gymnasts.
Her vast experience in meet management has helped enhance the image of Auburn gymnastics' home events. In 2003, 2004 and 2006, the Tigers ranked fifth nationally for highest home meet attendance.
Thompson was a three-year letterwinner and All-American for LSU from 1988-91. She won the Southeastern Conference All-Around Championship in 1991, the vault and floor titles at the 1991 NCAA Regional vault, finished fourth in the all-around at the 1990 NCAA Championships and was a finalist for the Honda-Broderick Award. Thompson was the first gymnast in LSU history to score a perfect 10.00, doing so on floor against Florida in 1991.
A native of Baton Rouge, La., Thompson completed her college degree at Auburn University, graduating suma cum laude with a bachelor's degree in education. She is married to head coach Jeff Thompson. The couple resides in Auburn with their two boys, Parker (14) and Griffin (12).