It’s the end of an era for a father and his son.
Evan Eigner, a Temple men’s gymnast for two years and son of coach Fred Turoff, will be transferring to Ohio State University in the fall. On July 1, Temple followed through with the elimination of its men’s gymnastics team – a decision that was approved by the Board of Trustees last December.
“It was probably the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life,” Eigner said.
Eigner noted several factors played into his decision to transfer, which occurred in early June. But some reasons were more influential than others.
“The way Freddy [Turoff] has been treated after spending his whole life at Temple,” Eigner said. “That was a big part of it for me.”
Even with all the events that resulted in the axing of the men’s gymnastics program from its Division I status, Eigner said that he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to compete at one of the premiere schools for men’s gymnastics.
On top of that, Eigner was offered what he called a “nice scholarship.” He declined stating how much the scholarship was worth, but did say that it was another reason he ended up picking Ohio State.
Academics were also key in Eigner making his final decision. He feels that his major in sports industry is compatible with a school that has a significant athletic department.
“Ohio State’s athletic program is top-notch,” Eigner said. “So to experience that and hopefully be able to work with the department at some point…to be exposed to that, it really intrigued me academically and for my future.”
Turoff acknowledged his future will feel different now that his son has chosen to transfer out of a school where both of them have spent most of their respective lives. But it’s a decision he fully supports.
“Certainty I would like to have him on my team,” Turoff said. “But in the situation we’re in, and the fact that he was sought by Ohio State and given partial financial aid, I think it’s a great decision. It’s also going to get him into a new environment where he’s going to learn new things.”
Upon hearing his son’s decision to transfer, Turoff said that his emotions were mixed. On the one hand, it’s tough to let a son go, but on the other, it’s important for Eigner to move to a respectable program and garner new experiences.
One area that is still up in the air is whether Eigner will make the Buckeyes’ squad. But Turoff explained that since Ohio State offered his son a partial scholarship, Eigner has a strong chance of securing a roster spot once spring rolls around.
In terms of what Eigner needs to do specifically in order to improve his chances at making the team, Turoff pointed to one particular skill that the still rings require.
“The weakest area of his rings [routine] is his swinging,” Turoff said. “So swinging for handstands and swinging into a dismount, those are the areas that he’s got to work on. And he knows that, he’s been working on it all summer.”
After this summer, it will be the first time in Turoff’s life that Eigner will be training in the sport under someone other than himself. Yet, Turoff doesn’t see much difference between his son and every other gymnast he has coached in his 38 years at Temple.
“It’s very similar to when a guy graduates,” Turoff said. “I coach him through his collegiate career, and then he moves on. It’s something I’ve experienced every year for the past 38 years.”
While Eigner will be missed by his teammates, Turoff added the bigger loss may be his production on the still rings. He averaged nearly a point higher than his teammates on the event, and although Turoff said it’s his team’s job to fill in that difference, it’s also a “long climb.”
Above all, Eigner wants to stay true to his roots. He may be leaving to Columbus, Ohio to start a new chapter in his life, but he said Temple men’s gymnastics still holds a special place in his heart.
“I am moving on, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m leaving Temple gymnastics,” Eigner said. “I still feel like I’m a part of that, I’ll still stay in touch with guys on the team and alumni and the coached. One thing I’ll miss is the friendships and comraderies I’ve had with the guys, but I don’t think that will necessarily change. I’ll still be in contact with them, and do my best to visit when I can.”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SteveSportsGuy1.