Ashleigh Clare-Kearney Thigpen Season 2023
A two-time national champion and former gymnast for LSU, Ashleigh Clare-Kearney enters her 10th season as a volunteer assistant coach for the Tigers.
Clare-Kearney received her bachelor’s degree from LSU in 2008, earned her master’s at LSU in 2010 and earned her law degree from Southern University in 2013.??A five-time First-Team All-American during her career at LSU, Clare-Kearney handles all choreography for floor and beam routines, and she assists in coaching all four events.
Clare-Kearney is considered one of the top choreographers in the nation and her influence in Baton Rouge cannot be underscored. LSU’s floor performers consistently produce big floor scores each season from start to finish.
Overall, Clare-Kearney has mentored 38 All-American, including 14 during the regular season. In Clare-Kearney’s nine seasons as volunteer coach, LSU gymnasts have earned 16 perfect scores and 11 All-SEC honors and also won nine SEC championships. In 2017, LSU set the school record at NCAA Championships with a 49.7125 on floor during Semifinal II and Ashleigh Gnat won the NCAA Floor Exercise.
Under Clare-Kearney, the LSU floor routines have improved leap and bounds, including top-5 rankings on the event in seven of nine seasons. Her floor lineup finished first in 2015 and second from 2016-18.
The 2019 squad was anchored by seniors Sarah Finnegan and McKenna Kelley. The duo along with junior Kenendi Edney all earned perfect scores in 2019. Finnegan clinched the 2019 SEC Championship in New Orleans with a 10 on floor, her second career perfect score on the event. Finnegan totaled 49 individual titles in her senior season, including 11 on floor, which were the second most in a season in school history.
LSU finished second in the nation with an RQS of 49.450 and average of 49.427 on floor in 2018. Myia Hambrick finished the season as the top performer in the country on floor and Finnegan finished seventh nationally. The duo anchored the Tigers’ clinch of the SEC Regular Season Championship against Auburn with perfect scores on floor.
The 2017 squad finished with an average of 49.506 on floor. Ashleigh Gnat closed her illustrious career as the NCAA Floor Exercise champion and SEC Floor Exercise champion. Gnat totaled 12 floor titles in 2017 to set the school record for the most in a single season. She also ended her career with 23 floor tiles for the third-most in school history.
Gnat and Kelley took home the SEC Floor Exercise titles during the league meet. A month later at the NCAA Championships, an unprecedented five of six gymnasts in LSU’s lineup earned All-America honors to set the school record after combining to post a school-record score of 49.7125 on the event.
The squad that finished as the NCAA Runner-Up, tied the school record with four All-Americans on floor, and finished second in the nation in the final floor rankings with a 49.575 regional qualifying score. Gnat compiled an LSU single season record four perfect 10.0 scores, was the SEC Floor Exercise Champion, and won 10 titles on floor to tie Lloimincia Hall, Clare-Kearney and Sandra Smith for the most in school history.
LSU ranked No. 1 in the final floor national rankings with a 49.560 regional qualifying score and a season average of 49.448 in 2015. Three LSU gymnasts ranked in the national Top 25 on floor with Hall at No. 1, Gnat at No. 10 and Jessie Jordan at No. 17.
Clare-Kearney played a big role in LSU’s continued improvement across the board on all events in the 2014 season. The Tigers ended the year ranked No. 4 nationally on floor, and the team established a new school record in the event with a 49.700 versus Missouri.
In addition, Clare-Kearney coached Hall to three perfect 10.0s on floor in 2014, including Hall’s performance against Alabama that became a viral sensation and attracted national media attention during the season.
In 2013, Clare-Kearney’s efforts were widely recognized as LSU was credited with having one of the most exciting floor lineups in the country with dazzling choreography and fantastic performances. The Tigers finished the season ranked No. 5 nationally in the event.
Clare-Kearney brings a wealth of experience to LSU gymnastics as she captured the 2009 NCAA Vault and Floor national titles as well as the 2009 Southeastern Conference Floor title during her senior season. As a junior in 2008, Clare-Kearney became the second LSU gymnast to be crowned the SEC All-Around Champion, and she also took home 2008 SEC Gymnast of the Year honors after winning the all-around and floor titles.??Clare-Kearney holds the school record for the most individual titles – winning 114 titles in her career, including 37 on vault, 27 on floor and 22 in the all-around.
“She has so much to give,” head coach D-D Breaux said. “Her choreography skills and her ability to interpret music and give her interpretation to someone else is why I wanted her back. We are only getting a little piece of her because she is 100 percent committed to her professional endeavors, but she is invaluable as a coach and mentor to our ladies.”
Clare-Kearney demonstrated excellence and leadership in academics as well as competition as she was recognized as a Scholastic All-American in both 2008 and 2009, and the Manchester, Connecticut, native was also a two-time SEC Academic Honor Roll member.??An active member in the local community, Clare-Kearney was twice recognized as a member of the SEC Community Service Team, and she also received the 2008 Huel D. Perkins Leadership Award at LSU.??Because of her prowess in the gym, in the classroom and in the community Clare-Kearney became the first LSU student-athlete to earn the distinction as an NCAA Woman of the Year Finalist in 2009.
The daughter of Craig Kearney and Diane Clare-Kearney, Ashleigh married DaJuan Thigpen on July 30, 2016 in downtown Baton Rouge.