Heather Stepp McCormick
Feb. 23, 2013
ATHENS-----Former UGA national champion gymnast Heather Stepp McCormick will be inducted into the State of Georgia Sports Hall of Fame Saturday evening during annual ceremonies held in the Macon (Ga.) City Auditorium.
Stepp, who led the Gym Dogs to the 1993 NCAA title, was one of Georgia’s most decorated gymnasts, winning three individual national titles and two individual SEC titles. At the time of her graduation, she held the school record on every event including the all-around. She was named an All-American a total of nine times.
Stepp’s gymnastics career couldn’t have ended any sweeter. In 1993 the native of Mt. Clements, Mich., led the Gym Dogs to their third NCAA national team title and the next day she added two more individual NCAA championships to her already impressive resume.
But it wasn’t the titles that defined Stepp’s career at Georgia. In 1991 she suffered a season-ending elbow injury while warming up on the vault at a meet in Utah. Suzanne Yoculan called it the most serious injury in her first eight years as head coach.
Doctors said Stepp had just a 10 percent chance of regaining normal use in her arm - much less attempting any more gymnastics. It seemed as though her Georgia career was over.
But Stepp proved the doubters wrong. She immediately began the rehabilitation process that lasted all day, every day, for the entire summer of 1991. What started as mobilization and range-of-motion exercises
eventually turned into strength and flexibility drills. Somehow it looked as though she would compete again.
As a junior she had arguably her best season. Stepp won the all-around competition in Georgia’s first meet of the year, but that was just the beginning. She was the national vault champion and the national runner-up in the all-around. She was a first-team All-American on three events, won two SEC titles and two NCAA regional titles and was the team MVP. The Honda Sports Awards Program honored Stepp with a unanimous selection for the Inspiration Award, which is presented to a female athlete who shows courage, perseverance and determination in overcoming obstacles to compete athletically.