“I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to join Auburn’s amazing coaching staff,” Priess-Johnston said. “I immediately clicked with the vision and philosophy that Jeff (Graba) and Kurt (Hettinger) have instilled in the program. I appreciate and respect Auburn’s focus on developing leaders, helping student-athletes transition into and out of college, and equipping them with the tools to be successful in the real world. Auburn Athletics offers the facilities, resources and support staff that are essential in consistently reaching the top tier of excellence in the classroom, gym and community.
“I understand as a former student-athlete how quickly those four years pass and how important it is to maximize the opportunities that present themselves along the journey,” Priess-Johnston added. “I am excited and focused to assist the coaching staff and team in securing SEC and National Championships for the Auburn program.”
Priess-Johnston comes to the Plains after spending last season at Illinois. While with the Fighting Illini, her primary role was coaching and choreographing beam and assisting with recruiting. In addition, she handled all apparel and travel for Illinois.
“I’ve known Ashley for a few years now, having followed her career from an athlete to an elite coach to a coach in the NCAA,” Graba said. “I have nothing but respect for the way she has handled herself in every situation. She is a talented coach, a proven team leader and a wonderful person. I am very excited to have Ashley and Jason join the Auburn gymnastics family and I know they will be a great fit!”
Prior to her season spent at Illinois, Priess-Johnston was a coach at the Cincinnati Gymnastics Academy. She assisted CGA head coach Mary Lee Tracy at the elite level and developmental level, while coaching the floor and beam optional program.
Before entering the coaching side of the sport, Priess-Johnston was an elite gymnast on both the collegiate and international stage.
Priess-Johnston helped Team USA win a silver medal at the 2006 World Championships, while also winning a gold and silver medal at the 2006 World Cup in France. She competed at the international level from 2003-07 before going the college route at Alabama.
A native of Wheaton, Ill., Priess-Johnston was a 10-time All-American and helped Alabama win back-to-back NCAA Championships in 2011 and 2012. The Tide also earned two SEC Championships in 2009 and 2011 with Priess-Johnston on the team. Individually, she earned five NCAA Regional titles and two SEC titles.
Away from competition, Priess-Johnston earned the NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship, was president of Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and winner of the Paul Bryant Award.
Priess-Johnston earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2011 and went on to get a master’s degree in Marketing in 2013.