In a gym filled with 10 national championship banners and 16 more Southeastern Conference Championship banners, pressure is an understatement, but the feat does not phase Courtney Kupets Carter. A gymnast for the University of Georgia GymDogs from 2006-2009, Kupets dominated the NCAA gymnastics world. In her time here as a gymnast, she led the GymDogs to four national championships and earned herself many more accolades. By the conclusion of her outstanding career, Kupets accumulated SEC Freshman of the Year honors in 2006, SEC Gymnast of the Year in 2009, and the Honda-Broderick Cup, as the nation’s top female college athlete.
She became the all-around champion for an NCAA record-tying three times and was the first gymnast to ever win the all-around and every individual event, claiming a perfect ten in every event eight times, seven of which came her senior year. Her legacy lives on as she is arguably the greatest collegiate gymnast to ever compete. Kupets was already a huge name in gymnastics prior to her arrival at Georgia, having won a Silver and Bronze Medal in the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens, Greece. An all-time great athlete, Kupets-Carter’s now heads into her third season as the head coach of her alma mater. So without further adieu, here is the one and only Courtney Kupets Carter, a Georgia legend.
“I love architecture. At Georgia, the buildings, new and old, have that southern charm. Just the feel of campus felt like home, so that was a huge piece in my decision. Gymnastics was a big piece too. I knew athletes on the team, but my sister, Ashley, was on the team also. She, along with my mom knew to not tell me where to go because I would do the opposite. My sister and I have had a really close relationship, but we have been in gymnastics together, and there are tensions that come along with having a sister in the same sport; however, when they let me make my own decision, and it was still UGA, I knew Georgia was the right place for me. On a funnier note, a single bathroom for twelve girls was not going to be for me. It is a great way to live in college, but I know it’s not for me. So, Georgia met my needs with great dorm accommodations as well. Overall, the team, the program, the campus, and also the dorm situation were huge factors in my decision.”
“It would probably be the uneven bars. I love to swing and to fly in the air, then catch the bar again. I’m not a fan anymore, but I used to love rollercoasters, and that feeling is what you get on bars. It is an interesting event, however. Gymnasts have a lot of muscles, but bars is an event where you have to swing more than muscle your way through it. It’s a more technique event, and if you can get that technique down, you can pretty much learn any skills on the bars.”
“The most impactful meets within my coaching career the past few years was Regionals. This was not necessarily a home meet. At the moment there were four teams competing, and it was different for Stegeman. The 10,000 seats were filled with fans from multiple schools, so at that moment when our fanbase showed out is when I realized and the team realized that we had one of the greatest fan-bases. You could feel the power and presence of the fans, so one of my major goals this year is to engage the fans even more.”
Characteristics a gymnast needs
“Confidence … confidence is more than just knowing you can do something; it is the belief in yourself. Naturally, as people, we have a lot of self-doubt, so to overcome it we need a mental toughness that comes along with confidence. However, a gymnast needs the confidence to know that when a mistake is made, finishing out the routine is what the team needs, and giving up is not an option.”
Coach Yoculan in one word
“I would like to use a word she once used to describe herself in a team-building exercise. She called herself demonstrative. At first, I thought it kind of sounded bad, but after she described it, I understood. It means loud and a huge personality, which is so fitting. Her personality takes over a room. She’s funny when everyone needs a laugh and forces those around her to take the next step towards excellence.”
Advice for your children or other young athletes
“No matter the activity or sport that it may be for my children one day, I want them to have something they are passionate about. Gymnastics for me gave me a lot of pride in what I did, and I gained so much from the sport. I want my children to have that thing that they care about, work hard for, and see progress in because I know that will help them in many areas of life. Whether it is gymnastics or not is not up to me, but I need to know that they love what they are doing.”
Goals for the 2020 GymDogs
“I want to sit down with the team and discuss our goals for the year before I really announce them, but I’ll give you this. Our expectations for the year are high, and it is to be better than we were last year. We want to finish in the top three and also have a higher team score at Nationals than our national qualifying score in 2019. The theme for the year is Vision 2020. It’s perfect vision, but we certainly are not looking for perfection, we’re looking for excellence in our student/athletes.”
Mark your calendars for 4 p.m., December 4 at Stegeman Coliseum to see Coach Kupets Carter’s GymDogs at their First Look event.