Gymnastics Coach Jay Clark Resigns Position At UGA
Georgia's Kat Ding Wins NCAA Bars, Floor Titles
Gym Dogs Place Fifth In NCAA Gymnastics Semifinal
Gym Dogs Win Auburn Regional, Advance To NCAA Championships
Georgia Gymnastics Headed To Auburn For NCAA Regional
Jay Clark enters his third season as Georgia's head coach and his 20th year overall in the gymnastics program. After spending 17 years as an assistant on the Gym Dogs' staff including five as associate head coach, Clark made his head coaching debut in 2010.
The sixth head coach in the Gym Dogs' 39-year history, Clark has helped build one of the most dominant programs in all of college sports. Since 1986, Georgia has won 10 national championships, 16 Southeastern Conference titles and 21 NCAA Regional crowns.
In 2011, Clark was named by ESPNU and ESPN The Magazine as the ninth best recruiter in all of college sports.
Clark succeeded Suzanne Yoculan, under whom he served as an assistant while overseeing the Gym Dogs' success on the uneven bars. He was a Georgia assistant from 1990-1996 and from 1998-2004 before serving as associate head coach from 2005-2009. As head coach, Clark has continued to lead Georgia's bar performers in addition to coordinating the recruiting efforts.
Under Clark's direction in 2011, Georgia gymnast Kat Ding won the program's nation-leading 38th NCAA individual title and 10th on the uneven bars. He also led the Gym Dogs back to the NCAA Championships for the 27th time. UGA tied for the most representatives on the All-SEC First Team with five, and Georgia finished the season ranked in the top 10 nationally on vault, bars and beam.
With Clark at the helm in 2010, Georgia was statistically among the top teams in the country throughout the season. At the end of the regular season, the Gym Dogs ranked in the top 10 in each of the four events including second on balance beam, fourth on bars, sixth on floor and 10th on vault. Three Gym Dogs claimed SEC individual titles and two more were runners-up. Also in 2010, the Gym Dogs' Academic Progress Rate was best in the SEC.
In 2009, Clark's efforts helped Courtney Kupets, Grace Taylor and Ding earn All-America honors on bars. Kupets was also the SEC champion on bars and claimed the title at the NCAA Southeast Regional. Earlier in the season, she recorded the program's 26th perfect 10.0 on the unenven bars.
In 2008, Clark coached Katie Heenan, Tiffany Tolany and Taylor to All-America honors on bars. Tolnay and Taylor were SEC champions on bars, matching the league record of 9.95, while Heenan claimed the bars title at the NCAA Regional.
In 2006, Kupets became the fourth Georgia gymnast to win an NCAA uneven bars title, joining Kelly Macy in 1991, Agina Simpkins in 1993 and Lori Strong in 1994. Kupets was also one of five Gym Dogs in 2006 to be named an All-American on the bars. Georgia gymnasts have earned 21 All-America awards on the event in the last seven years.
Without question, one of the most important elements in the success of the Georgia gymnastics program is the top-level talent it is able to attract to Athens year after year. Clark oversees the process of maintaining the Gym Dogs' status among the elite and his recruiting success earned him the title of associate head coach prior to the 2005 season. He annually recruits classes that rank among the top in the nation.
Clark, a Roswell, Ga., native, returned to the Georgia program in June of 1998 after spending two years as head team coach and competitive director with the Athens-Clarke Gymnastics Academy. From 1990 to 1996, Clark was an assistant coach with the Gym Dogs before joining the staff at ACGA. When the opportunity arose, he welcomed the chance to return to Georgia.
Coordinating the gymnastics program's recruiting efforts includes corresponding with coaches and potential student-athletes, scouting at major competitions, visiting with gymnasts and their families, and arranging official university visits. Among the classes Clark is credited with recruiting are the ones of 1998 and 1999, which consisted of All-Americans Kim Arnold, Julie Ballard, Jenni Beathard, Karin Lichey, Sam Muhleman and Canadian National Team member Stacey Galloway. Those two recruiting classes are regarded as the "two best recruiting classes ever in the history of Georgia gymnastics and possibly in all of collegiate gymnastics" by Yoculan. The 2008 and 2009 classes of Heenan, Nikki Childs, Audrey Bowers and Megan Dowlen, and Paige Burns, Kupets, Abby Stack and Tolnay each finished with four straight NCAA championships.
Arnold, Beathard, Lichey and Muhleman were former U.S. National Team members. Also due in large part to Clark's efforts, Georgia signed the No. 1 recruits in 1993 (Leslie Angeles), 1994 (Arnold) and 1995 (Amanda Borden). The Gym Dogs' roster currently includes two former Olympic medalists in Kupets and Courtney McCool.
In the gym, Georgia finished with an unprecedented five First-Team All-America honors on the uneven bars in the 1993 campaign. A year ago, the Gym Dogs went wire-to-wire during the season as the top team on bars.
In 2006, Clark was honored by his peers as the National Assistant Coach of the Year.
Clark coached 13 years at the club level, where his gymnasts from Classic City Gymnastics Academy were regular qualifiers for and winners of regional and national championships at USA Gymnastics Levels 8, 9 and 10. He was named the 2001 USA Gymnastics Georgia Coach of the Year.
He is a member of the National Women's Collegiate Program Committee, which makes recommendations for the rules that govern college gymnastics.
Clark earned his bachelor's degree in exercise and sport science from the University of Georgia. He is married to the former Julie Ballard, who is an assistant coach for the Gym Dogs. They have a son, Walton Cole, born Aug. 15, 2002, and a daughter, Kinsey Grace, born Dec. 15, 2005.