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Lily Dean named first recipient of scholarship honoring former UNC Gymnastics coach

UNC Gymnastics Head Coach Derek Galvin speaks with the team after a meet against University of Pittsburgh on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020 in Carmichael Arena.

To honor the impact and legacy former UNC Gymnastics coach Derek Galvin and his wife Debra had, a scholarship has been endowed to the program in their name.

The scholarship is part of the FORevHER Tar Heels initiative that provides resources for female UNC athletes, including a mentorship program and various other scholarships.

Lily Dean, a senior gymnast, was the first recipient of the Derek and Debra Galvin Scholarship, which is funded by team members' families and alumni. Interim gymnastics head coach Marie Denick called Dean to inform her she was a recipient.

“That was such an honor because Derek has been such a huge part of my life," Dean said. "When I found out it’s awarded to someone that encaptures the values of Derek, I was even more thrilled because he is such an amazing man and has done so much for Carolina Gymnastics. To be part of something that honors Derek has been such an unreal opportunity.” 

Dean said Galvin pushed her not only to be a better person, but also a better gymnast. She said he taught her values she can take with her in her life and career, including gratitude and the importance of being present in the moment.

“I think he’s done a really good job of educating through triumphs, through hard times in gymnastics and showing how they correlate in your real life," Dean said. "It gives you a sense of confidence because you know you’ll be able to handle that stuff when you do graduate from Carolina."

Galvin spent 39 years as the gymnastics head coach at North Carolina before retiring last year. He started gymnastics at the age of 10 and eventually competed as a gymnast for UNC in the men’s program in the 1970s. 

“Carolina was just a very special place for me and my family, and I think the enthusiasm and energy that I had not only for coaching gymnastics, but also for doing that at Carolina hopefully created more excitement for the student-athletes,” Galvin said.

The former coach became aware of the scholarship on a surprise Zoom call with alumni, who wanted to do something for him and his wife that would connect them to UNC for the rest of their lives. The annual dinner, held by the Rams Club to honor scholarship donors and allow recipients to meet the donors, will be one way they stay connected. 

The former UNC coach's wife has also been involved in UNC Gymnastics alongside her husband, and has formed relationships with the team.

“What I really feel in my heart and what I appreciate so much about the scholarship is the fact that both my wife and I’s names are attached to it. The alums were gracious in including both of us, and I think that represents a true sense of family,” Galvin said.

Denick coached with Galvin for three years and was able to see his influence up close.

“It’s almost hard not to see him impacting gymnasts in some sort of way or impacting the Carolina community," Denick said. "He’s been here forever. You can’t really think of Carolina Gymnastics without thinking of Derek Galvin. He’s been the backbone of Carolina Gymnastics for so long that he has individually impacted every single woman that has come through Carolina Gymnastics."

Denick said she is grateful for the extensive support from alumni, family of alumni and the whole UNC community that made the scholarship possible.

“They were able to do this so quickly and endow this scholarship so fast. We appreciate all the donors and our alumni and we can’t wait to see everyone fill Carmichael arena once we can get to that point,” Denick said.


@DTHSports |

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