“Oledawg” expressed the opinion here yesterday that Courtney Kupets should be a blog topic. Quoting “Oledawg”: “Kudos to Kupets!” Agreed.
Kupets’ Georgia gymnastics career — she helped the Gym Dogs to NCAA championships each year she competed and won an unprecedented nine NCAA individual titles along the way – was appropriately capped yesterday with the Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation’s Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Click here for the story.
She became the first UGA athlete to win the award in its 33-year history. And became just the second gymnast to win it. And joined a list of winners that forms a Who’s Who of women’s sports: track-and-field’s Jackie Joyner-Kersee, soccer’s Mia Hamm, softball’s Lisa Fernandez, basketball’s Candace Parker. . . .
That’s company in which Kupets belongs.
Her award was presented during a ceremony at Columbia University in New York, and Suzanne Yoculan, Georgia’s retiring gymnastics coach, said hearing the fantastic credentials of this year’s other finalists put Kupets’ victory in context.
“It’s huge,” Yoculan said by phone from New York.
“One of the things in my mind that separated [Kupets] was returning from the Achilles tear [that ended her junior season in March 2008]. Winning four NCAA titles the year after an Achilles tear, that is what separated her.”
It was Kupets’ second Achilles injury.
“Someone asked her today, ‘Was it easier to come back this time because she had torn the other one?’” Yoculan said. “In her words, ‘No, it was actually harder to do it again, because I knew what it would take, knew how hard it would be.’
“There were a lot of tough days,” Yoculan added. “It took a lot of inner strength to come back — to get her body to do what she wanted it to do. . . . It took her strong will and her tenacity to be able to return and win four national titles.”
Kupets completed her college eligibility this year, and Yoculan officially retires at the end of the month.
“Courtney is one athlete I never sat down with and talked about goals,” Yoculan said. “We would just talk about boys and school and clothing and stilettos. She never liked to talk about specific goals. . . . And we didn’t need to, because Courtney was always going to find a way to give you her best.
“I’m just so honored to be here with her, especially knowing all I had to do [as her coach] was turn on the light switch and make sure she had enough rest.”
A couple of other developments of note on Monday:
— Ryan Hybl, former star Georgia golfer (2001-04) and more recently a UGA assistant, was named the new head men’s golf coach at Oklahoma. He is the brother of Nate Hybl, former Oklahoma (by way of UGA) quarterback.
– Ashley Houts, point guard on Georgia’s women’s basketball team, was named to the U.S. team for the World University Games, which will be played next month in Belgrade, Serbia. She earlier was chosen among 14 finalists for the team, which now has been cut to 12 members.