After four seasons as Warrior gymnastics head coach, Tessa Poorker has resigned.

Poorker, a 2006 graduate of Brainerd High School, took over the head coach position in the 2017-18 season after spending years as an assistant coach.

In fact, Poorker started coaching gymnastics in Brainerd in 2004 when she was 15-years-old.

“I have been honored and blessed to be a part of Brainerd gymnastics for 22 years,” she said. “It’s been a lot of my life. I competed as a Warrior gymnast and just looking over the years and the time it takes to coach these kids I’m just looking at family stuff moving forward. Just wanted to do things more with my husband and have my nights and weekends open while looking for a full-time career.”

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It was tough for Poorker to resign as she feels a close connection with the incoming senior class of 2022.

“It was definitely a hard decision,” she said. “I’ve been a part of this program for so long and being an alumni of course. Every chapter has to end at some point. I told the team last Thursday and it was very emotional. The most emotional part is that we feel like a family. I look at these kids like my sisters or my daughters. They’ve been super supportive and I’ve gotten a lot of great messages from them and their families.”

Poorker compiled a 17-13 record with Brainerd in her four seasons. A big highlight in Poorker’s tenure was in the 2018-19 season when Brainerd knocked off St. Cloud Tech for the first time in 14 years.

Tessa Poorker gives Izzy Olson pointers Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Tessa Poorker gives Izzy Olson pointers Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“I think it’s important to understand that gymnastics is a really challenging hire for a lot of schools in greater Minnesota,” Brainerd activities director Charlie Campbell said. “It’s just such a specialized activity that a limited number of people have exposure too. Tessa came into that role having been assistant a couple of years on staff and having been coached by legendary coach and longtime Warrior coach Dave Maras. One of the things that I appreciated about Tessa was she continued to work to get better the longer that she stayed in that role and it was fun to watch her grow. She’s going to be missed.”

Five different Warrior gymnasts competed in the state tournament under Poorker. Those gymnasts were Izzy Olson, Brenna Deason, Josie Harguth, Kenna Smith and Ellie Selisker.

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“I have been blessed with so many kids,” Poorker said. “I have coached almost every kid that has come from this program from age 4 to age 18. It’s hard to pick up certain names, but to see how they’ve grown up through the program over the years, a lot of them that are seniors this year I’ve coached since they were 8 years old. It’s a bittersweet thing of course but if you don’t leave when you’re ready then you never know when the time is right.”

Poorker said she still plans on supporting and attending gymnastics events this coming winter.

“I told them to save me a spot in the bleachers,” she said. “I’ll be their biggest fan.”



CONRAD ENGSTROM may be reached at 218-855-5861 or conrad.engstrom@brainerddispatch.com. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/the_rad34.