The Georgia Gym Dogs have hired a new head coach. Courtney Kupets Carter is returning to her alma mater to lead the gymnastics team in an announcement made on Tuesday in front of family, athletic department staff, other head coaches of various Georgia sports and booster club members.
Kupets Carter replaces Danna Durante who was not retained after the 2017 season. Durante was the head coach for five seasons and had a top finish of No. 5 in 2014. Her overall record was 83-79-1 at Georgia and finished fourth in the SEC Championship last season. Georgia has not won an SEC or NCAA gymnastics title since Kupets Carter last competed.
"Courtney was a remarkable gymnast and leader on a team that won four national championships... she knows the heritage of our program and what it takes to compete at the highest levels," said UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity.
Kupets Carter was a Gym Dog from 2006 to 2009 and was a 15-time All-American. Last month, she was named the greatest women's collegiate gymnast ever by the NCAA. She became the only women's gymnast ever to win the all-around and every individual event (vault, bars, beam and floor). Prior to coming to Georgia, she won a bronze medal in the 2004 Summer Olympics in the uneven bars event while also earning a silver medal for being part of the United States team.
"I am thankful and grateful for this chance to show the passion that I had while I was first a gymnast at the University of Georgia and now I get to have this passion as a head coach, and I can not wait to install that into the current and future Gym Dogs," Cupets Carter said. "... I think one of the things that is very important to realize is that I am going to bring back the tradition of Georgia gymnastics. I think there are so many alums (few in the audience) who know the passion and understanding that Georgia did not start on top, it was built and that started with Suzanne Yoculan Leebern."
Kupets Carter announced Yoculan Leebern would join her staff as a volunteer coach. The former Georgia gymnastics coach won 10 titles while at the helm. Kupets Carter ended her opening statement by saying, "Georgia Gymnastics will win championships again. Go Dawgs!"
One of the people in the audience was former long-time assistant coach Doug McAvinn.
"One of the amazing things about Courtney (as an athlete) is that she knew what she needed and every day she came into the gym, every aspect of every routine was in her mind to the point, and she knew what she had to do. She was practically coaching herself," McAvinn said.
Kupets Carter, 30 years old, has zero collegiate head coaching experience and has been an analyst for the SEC Network since 2015. She has been teaching at the Oconee Gymnastics Club this past year. She is married to Chris Carter and they have one daughter, Brooklyn, who is 17 months old and they are expecting a boy this July.
McGarity pointed out in Georgia's press conference that in 1983, Georgia hired a 30-year club coach with no coaching experience to lead Georgia's gymnastics team. That coach was Yoculan Leebern, who led the Gym Dogs to a record ten national championships, 16 SEC Championships, and had 58 Gym Dogs win 306 All-American honors, including Kupets Carter.