Women's Gymnastics

Presented By Athens Regional
Noel Couch Blog: 17 Strong
Noel Couch Blog: 17 Strong

Noel Couch Blog: 17 Strong
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Jan. 16, 2012

Seventeen girls. Four and a half months of training. Ten thousand fans. One heart, one mind, one spirit… the Georgia Gym Dogs. One of our favorite moments as a Gym Dog is running out into the Coliseum with fireworks going off and the crowd roaring with excitement. Our freshies were able to experience this amazing moment for the first time on Jan. 6 as we opened our season at home against the University of Denver. There is no better feeling than going out on that competition floor and competing with my team. It’s a thrill to compete at such a high level and see the intensity on each person’s face. We take pride in having the opportunity to represent the Georgia “G.”

We stayed focused and we stayed together throughout the meet. I was very proud of freshmen Chelsea Davis and Sarah Persinger for their strong performances in their first Gym Dog meet. Chels started us off on the right track being first up on vault and bars, and also performed a beautiful beam exhibition. Congrats to Chelsea as she was named the SEC Freshman of the Week for her performance. Sarah showed her power on vault and then her beauty and grace on beam and floor. It was also inspiring to see Kaylan compete on three events. This girl has worked all summer and fall to get her routines to be consistent and powerful. Keep you eye on these lovely ladies throughout the season.

A big thank you to all of our fans who were in attendance at the coliseum or following as we competed. The support you show us is what makes our program so special. We also had a lot of support from our families and friends in attendance. Mama and Papa Couch, Mikayla, Aunti Jo, and Sarah were all able to make the trip to Athens. They were all in their red and black attire and I was delighted to see their faces in the stands cheering with the other fans. A special shout out to Cassidy McComb who also traveled to Athens for our first meet. Cass has played the role of big sister, teammate, and hair- stylist for me the past few years, and while she no longer lives in Athens, she’s still a huge part of my life. Even though she had to hold in her cheers and excitement a bit, she did an impressive job of commentating live on the meet.

From the start of the meet with Chelsea’s vault to the finish with my floor routine, the Gym Dogs put together a solid meet. We were happy with how we kicked off the season, but not satisfied. We knew there were still improvements to be made and more meets on the horizon. Before getting back to work on Monday we all enjoyed the weekend with our families. We went hung out downtown Saturday afternoon and went to the men’s basketball game at night. I loved spending time with them here visiting, especially with excitement of our first win. It’s always a little sad to say goodbye, but luckily it wouldn’t be for too long because my parents flew down to Alabama for our meet the next weekend.

A new week and a new semester began on Monday. While that meant that we would be packed like sardines on the buses as we tried to get to class and that I could no longer get the ideal first floor parking spot in the deck, it was certainly great to have familiar faces back in Athens. Also, I have an awesome class schedule that our team academic counselor, Rachel Jones put together for me. We helped our newest freshies, Whitney Kirby and Demetria Hunte, with their schedules as they embarked on their journey of being a student at The University of Georgia. By the time we got to practice we all had stories of our crazy experiences during the start of a new semester.

When Thursday rolled around, we rolled out to Alabama. We hopped on a monstrous sleeper bus in our matching attire and luggage…we travel in style. We competed in front of thousands of fans Friday night, but this time these fans were not cheering for us. We put together another good meet, but unfortunately fell just short of beating Alabama. It was still a competition to be proud of and to build on. We’ll grow from the experience. There were several high points, including one from Cat Hires who catapulted herself to receive a career-high 9.9 on vault. Christa Tanella was a huge contributor with career-highs of 9.875 on bars and 9.85 on floor, ending with a 9.8 on beam. Shayla Worley wrapped up our competition with a stunning 9.95 beam routine. We have our heads held high and our intentions set.

We spent the rest of our weekend rejuvenating our minds and bodies. A special shout out to my New York Giants who beat the Green Bay Packers Sunday. How YOU doin‘ Big Blue?!

This coming week we get an extra day of school off as we honor Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” No one said our “No Dream Too Big” journey was going to be easy, but then again, nothing worthwhile of achieving is ever easy. We continue to be determined and persistent and 17 strong as we chase our dream together.

Noel Couch, a native of Towaco, N.J., is a junior on the Georgia gymnastics team.

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