Former Temple gymnast, Jesse Kitzen-Abelson, is in his third year as the head coach for Temple. The Temple University Men's Gymnastics program has made a significant impact on Jesse's life, which is why he is dedicated to rebuilding the program. He wants to continue to provide opportunities for young men to work hard and flourish while continuing their gymnastics careers at a high level. As a team member, he was elected co-captain twice, was an NCAA semi-finalist on the pommel horse and earned First Team All-America Scholar-Athlete status from 2008-2011. From 2011-2016, Jesse helped develop gymnastics in South Africa, and represented the country on the world stage multiple times.
USA Gymnastics Hall of Famer, Fred Turoff has been at the helm of the program for over 40 years, and produced 18 conference title teams. After the team was cut from the athletic department in 2014, Fred acted admirably by continuing to coach the team, purely as a volunteer and created an endowment to help fund the men. This caring action is something very few in the history of the NCAA have undergone. Fred was a Temple gymnast from 1966-1969, where he became a conference champion on the high bar and all-around. He competed in multiple prestigious events such as the Maccabiah Games and World Championships. Fred is highly committed to growing gymnastics in Philadelphia and is still happily involved with the men's team.
Co-captain & Treasurer
Finance major, Jackson Heitland is in his final season with the owls; he is specializing on the pommel horse. Jackson is originally from St. Louis but trained in Virginia at Above the Bar Gymnastics Academy under Viorel Popescu.
Native to the Philadelphia area, co-captain Nicolino trained under former Temple Gymnast Walter Kenney at Upper Merion Gymnastics as well as Brad Davis at Liberty Bell Athletics. Nicolino is an all-arounder and is in his third year with the team. He is a kinesiology major.
Senior Evan Salters returns as our vice-president. He proudly represented Temple in the rings finals in the USAG collegiate nationals in 2018. He is studying risk management and insurance. Evan trained at Capital Gymnastics under Andrei and Vladimir Shamenko.
Toby competes with both the Temple co-ed club as well as the Temple Men's elite team. He is known for his brute strength on rings and floor as well as his quick tumbling. Toby is a senior studying biochemistry. He was a member of Champions United and was coached by Mikhaeil Krivocheia.
Junior Taden Thurber is based from Nashua, NH where he trained at Brestyan's Gymnastics under coach Debbie Naka. Taden is known for his explosive floor skills and his quality films. He is studying film and media arts and this is his second season with the owls.
Sophomore Forrest Kelly is a triplet to Orion and Alexis, both of whom are also gymnasts at Temple. Forrest is an architecture student and trained at Monmouth Gymnastics in NJ with Yuriy Aminov.
Jared is a freshman from Montoursville, PA and plans to study in the Health Professions. He has a beautiful swing on pommel horse and was a member of Centre Elite Gymnastics where he was coached by Tony Beck and Ryan Terrill.
Garrett is from Montgomery, Alabama and received his early training with Armory Athletics. Garrett is majoring in public health and is known for his powerful vault and having the most unique socks on the team.
Matthew is a freshman from Broadview Heights, Ohio and trained at Gym World with Greg Skupski. Matt plans to study engineering. Be sure to look out for his high flying releases on high bar.
Jacob, AKA Biller, is from St. Michael, Minnesota and plans to study pharmaceutical sciences. Biller was a member of Twin City Twisters and was coached by Drew Shields. Be sure to catch his high twisting capabilities on floor and his clean lines.
Josh is a freshman from Jenkintown, PA. He plans to study physics and he formerly trained at Liberty Bell Athletics under Brad Davis. Josh's forte is the rings and enjoys training unique skills that very few people do.
Dr. Taylor Brana
Being a part of this team gave me the necessary skills and support I needed to make it through the difficult marathon of medical study and now I am officially a physician. After balancing morning workouts, with classes, evening training, and social life, I learned all of the necessary skills needed to be an effective and balanced student. I learned how to work on a team, I learned how to work hard, study efficiently, relax in times of stress, how to be a leader, a follower, and a friend. I’m not saying this experience made me perfect, but I am saying that if it weren’t for TUMG I don’t think I would have been able to become a doctor. I have only love for Temple University Mens Gymnastics and whatever I can do to support this family, I will.
Who we be?! TUG.
Being part of the Temple gymnastics team was a remarkable period in my athletic career. In addition to the camaraderie I had with my teammates, Coach Fred was a key participant in a unique moment in my life because he was my coach at the 1992 Olympics Games. Happily, I have retained friendships with not only Fred but with my other team members. In fact, one of the team members introduced me to my wife.
The Temple program was fabulous and helped prepare me for life challenges both on a personal and career level. Please help keep the program going as it will continue to enhance the lives of so many
Transformational. A word that defines my experience as a Temple gymnast. Temple men’s gymnastics team gave me more than I could ever realize as an athlete and more than I could ever give back. To say gymnastics defined most of us is an understatement. Twenty plus hours a week for the majority of our developmental years afforded the unique opportunity to become an expert at something. Always a believer in a track able process and driven by observing hard work pay off.
Prior to my experience at Temple it was all about personal achievement. Temple gymnastics transformed me into striving for something more. It taught me that in order to be fulfilled one must make sure they have others by their side. True accomplishment is made by a team of individuals - believing in a common vision, willing to sacrifice for each other and willing to do the things that the common man doesn’t. The team became the paramount accomplishment.
Gymnastics is important; however, TUMG provides much more than just gymnastics. The relationships speak for themselves. Several weddings a year, calls from brothers all across the globe with discussion on life’s hardships and ultimate celebrations. The perspectives, lessons and relationships have become some of my most prized possessions and I am forever grateful. Temple Men’s Gymnastics Transforms.