Alumni of Distinction: Marie-Sophie Boggasch
by Matt Jardin |
Marie-Sophie Boggasch, B.S Aviation Technology '16, M.S. Interdisciplinary Studies '20, will receive the 2022 Alumni Emerging Leader award at the Alumni of Distinction Celebration Banquet on March 31 at Lucy Cuddy Hall.
When aviation technology and interdisciplinary studies alumna (and the world’s tied-for-No.1 female axe thrower in 2022) Marie-Sophie Boggasch accepted the head coach position for women’s gymnastics at her alma mater, she didn’t expect to be fighting to save the program from elimination just two months later.
In September 2020, the University of Alaska Board of Regents made the difficult decision to discontinue three UAA athletic programs due to reductions in the UA system’s state-funded budget for FY 2019-20 unless the teams could raise two years of funding to cover expenses.
Under Boggasch’s leadership, Seawolf gymnastics was the second of the at-risk programs to achieve reinstatement, raising more than $900,000 by June 2022.
Along with an exhaustive fundraising strategy, hours of cold calls and a fierce social media campaign, key to those advocacy efforts were the gymnastics team’s years of volunteering in Anchorage paying off. While volunteering has been a priority for UAA gymnastics long before Boggasch was on the team, it’s one she strives to maintain.
“Leaving our little Seawolf tracks throughout the community and giving back in any way, shape or form is really important to our team and truly what saved us,” said Boggasch. “If there ever comes a time again where the regents have to make hard choices, I want us to be the hardest choice and hopefully one they're not going to end up making.”
Since being fully reinstated, Boggasch has gotten back to coaching without having to worry about whether or not the program will be around next year. With no new fundraising targets to hit, she has been able to focus on rebuilding the gymnastics team and improving the audience experience.
Originally from Germany, Marie-Sophie Boggasch came to Anchorage in 2012 when she was recruited to UAA as a student-athlete. Now on the coaching side, she hopes to be as good of a coach as the ones she had growing up.
“My priority as coach is to make sure each student-athlete graduates, flourishes and remains an honorable citizen, and that's something I've always strived to replicate from the coaches I had,” said Boggasch. “Organization is something I valued from my coach in Germany. My coach when I was a gymnast at UAA always put us as people first. And the head coach when I started as a graduate assistant gave me a lot of autonomy which is how I found my style.”
Between flipping through the air, Boggach also enjoys soaring through the air. As an undergrad, she served as president of Alpha Eta Rho, the international aviation fraternity at UAA. As a graduate student, she worked as a flight instructor in the Aviation Technology Division.
After graduating and before returning to UAA as a coach, Boggasch achieved her childhood dream of being a pilot for Regal Air. She even developed a ground school curriculum that focused on making Alaska's skies safer for fellow and future flyers.
“When I was younger, I had always wanted to become an astronaut, but when I learned they actually don't fly as much, I decided I was going to become a pilot,” said Boggasch. “In Germany it's a different system. To become a pilot you have to go through an airline and I was about an inch too short. So it was something I always thought was out of reach until I came to UAA.”