Head Coach and Program Director Robert “Duke” Nelligan was invited back to the University of Maryland this past weekend to be honored for his contributions. Duke served as the Head Coach at Maryland for 31 years before moving to Bermuda to take on his current role. While at Maryland, he coached hundreds of national and elite level gymnasts, many of whom moved on to their own illustrious coaching careers. One of his athletes, Kelli Hill, went on to open Hill’s Gymnastics in Maryland and produce many elite gymnasts including three-time Olympian Dominique Dawes.

Duke’s was originally connected to Bermuda when he coached Bermudian Jenny Wright on the Maryland team in the 90s. Since moving to the island five years ago, Nelligan has transformed the St. David’s National Training Center into an elite facility, started a competitive boys program, and held an annual international competition on-island, amongst other achievements. He is now preparing Bermuda’s National Team for major international meets, including Junior Pan American Championships next week. Gymnasts Clara James and Danielle Wall will travel to Aracaju, Brazil for the event with Duke and assistant coach Mand Baughman.

Duke was succeeded at Maryland by his son, Brett Nelligan, who had served as Duke’s assistant for many years. Regarding Sunday’s ceremony, Brett remarked:

“This past weekend was our Alumnae and Senior night where our seniors compete for the final time here at home. During this meet we also welcome back alum who have competed here in years past. This year is extra special because it is the university of Maryland’s final year as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) of which we were a founding member 61 years ago. Next year we will transition into the B1G Ten conference. As part of our “Proud Past/ Fearless Future” campaign, we recognized over 20 Alum who were in attendance at the meet. We had alum from all decades spanning from the 1980s, 90s, and 2000s all of whom were coached by Duke.  After the alum were announced, Duke joined them on the floor and was honored for his 31 years as head coach of the University of Maryland gymnastics program”.