Dr. Leah Brown
Nov. 11, 2013
By Matthew Pearce, UGA Sports Communications
ATHENS, Ga.----Leah Brown’s contributions to the Georgia gymnastics program didn’t stop after winning two national titles in two years. In fact, Brown’s accomplishments after leaving Athens could overshadow he achievements as a Bulldog.
Brown has served two tours of duty with the U.S. Navy in Afghanistan as an orthopedic doctor. She was the Georgia Gymnastics Distinguished Alumni of the Year in 2012 and recently the Atlanta, Ga., native gave back to the Gym Dogs in a very unique way; she donated a United States flag that was flown over Special Operations Task Force – Southeast Headquarters in Afghanistan, a task unit of warriors directly supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Danna (Durante) and the team sent me a lot of care packages as kind of a pick-me-up. To know that there are people thinking about you in that way, that was tremendous. I would share many of the things they sent to me to members of my team while I was deployed.,” Brown said. “This was a way for me to pay them back and let them know what Georgia gymnastics means to me. I wanted to let them team know that their time at Georgia isn’t just a four-year stint, but it’s a lifetime endeavor.”
Gym Dogs head coach Danna Durante said that Brown, who won the 1996 NCAA vault and 1997 NCAA floor titles and was a 14-time All-American from 1994-1997, represented everything good about the Georgia program.
“She has been successful in so many different phases of her life. It is an honor for this program to have an alum like Leah represent us and our country in a selfless manner,” Durante said. “We are proud of her and the way she represents UGA and Georgia Gymnastics with such class.”
Brown was awarded the Army Bronze Star for her humanitarian efforts when she was assigned to a hospital in Tarin Kowt Forward Operating Base, located in southeast Uruzgan province from October 2012 to May 2013.
The donation of the U.S. Flag reflects the affinity Brown still has for the Gym Dog program and what it means to her. She said she hoped the flag was a way to share her feelings and experiences with the current Gym Dog team.
“My time as a member of the Georgia gymnastics program was some of the most influential time of my life. It has touched me in a way that is hard to put in words. I have made friends that will be my friends for a lifetime. Even the people I didn’t train with and the people who came before and after me, I have a special bond with them and can talk to them like we grew up together,” she said. “It’s the bond we share as Gym Dogs. I wanted to share that with the team.”