Courtney and Suzanne: Return of the Jedi

Breaking news. We learned today that the new head coach of the Georgia gymnastics team will be……..Suzantney Kupoculan!

The press conference began with Southern McGlasses going, “blah blah blah tradition of excellence blah blah,” with Kupets lurking in the corner like

Captain McGlasses then announced that the new head coach of Georgia’s gymnastics team will be none other than the portion of face sitting next to him, the gymternet’s sun and stars, Courtney Kupets-Carter. He then added, “there’s definitely not anything more to the story than this. Wink wink. The owl flies at midnight.”

Kupets then got up and told us that

which was really all we needed to know.

She’s going to mold the team as people, and they’re going to learn a lot of life lessons about how to be determined winners, and she’s going to have an “open relationship” with them (not really what that means), and they’re going to stop sucking and return to the top, and “it’s not even really about the academics.”

Anyway, it was around the moment that Kupets’ script said, “[look to camera] [pause] [determined eyes] Georgia gymnastics WILL. WIN. AGAIN” that you may have been forgiven for thinking…wait, did Suzanne write this?

I mean, she did everything but say, “ALSO WE’VE NEVER HAD ANYONE TRANSFER, DID YOU KNOW THAT?”

There’s a reason for this. In epic burying-the-lede action, Our Lady of Kupets finished her benediction by throwing in the minor extra tidbit no one will care about that she has already decided on a volunteer assistant coach to join her team, a scrappy little nobody named Suzanne Yoculan.

Mmmhmm. Volunteer assistant coach. Suzanne Yoculan. She’s just going to move some mats, you guys. And get water.

It’s definitely Kupets’ team. This isn’t the Suzanne Show. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

Of course, there is the detail in all this that Kupets has basically no college coaching experience, which will be the explanation as to why Suzanne is coming on as an “assistant.” She’ll be there on a “temporary basis” to mold Kupets into Suzanne 2.0 and show her the stiletto-brick-road to Championship Town so that Kupets can fly out of the nest on her own in due course.

Perhaps it’s a bit unfair to Kupets that this will be considered Suzanne’s team again, but come on. Any room that Suzanne walks into will be considered Suzanne’s team. The dynamic and distribution of duties will be fascinating. In my mind, I see Kupets giving a speech to the team, and Suzanne standing in the back mouthing the words along with her, which would be dire and hilarious. That won’t actually happen. But what if it did.

But in Kupets, they have a coach who is happy to work with Suzanne (i.e., let Suzanne have the spotlight) rather than trying to get out from under the reputation of Suzanne and make her own name in the program, basically an impossible task.

The Shadow Government is finally emerging from its exile. Something had to be done, especially after Georgia got back from nationals being all, “WE GOT 12th, because…”

And Suzanne went,

That kind of behavior could not stand. She had to get to work, lest her legacy turn to ash, so she immediately called up Kupets to say, “I will remake you in my image, dear child, like a ball of clay, so that I might live forever.”

And Kupets went,

Yada, yada, yada…here we are today.

What this means for the results of the team…we’ll see. There’s the immediate association of Suzanne and Winning Championship Every Year—which she very intentionally cultivated by retiring on a five-year winning streak—but it’s not as though the presence of Suzanne automatically makes the team a favorite. They still need the gymnasts, it’s still going to be a process, and Kupets as a coach is an entirely unknown entity. Is there hope for the future? Sure. Always. More with Suzanne than with anyone else because of her pedigree. It wasn’t just luck that Georgia won all those championships. Are the gymnasts going to start being boiled alive if they miss beam? We can only hope. Is it much more important that we just get to see Suzanne traipsing around the competition floor like she owns it in those stilettos again, regardless of what happens? Absolutely.

So that’s what we know right now. We’ll find out about the other assistant coaches soon enough, I’m sure. On a personal note, I’m in hog heaven. My favorite gymnast and my favorite if-a-GIF-of-a-drag-queen-were-a-person both returning to coach Georgia? Gimme gimme gimme. It’s going to be a show no matter what.

It also feels like this is very last-gasp from Georgia in an effort to return to championship ways. What if the results don’t change, even now? You’ve used up your backup plan. At the very least, I’d imagine the Kupoculan administration will be given plenty of time. The presence of Suzanne gives Kupets a longer leash and more time,  since you don’t exactly get rid of Suzanne Yoculan.

In other news, who’s ready for Georgia @ Alabama next year?

37 thoughts on “Courtney and Suzanne: Return of the Jedi”

  1. Why doesn’t Suzanne just un-retire already? You know she wants to. I think this has the potential for a glorious train wreck of a power struggle and as someone with no vested interest in Georgia, I’m looking forward to it. Bring on the drama, cocktail dresses, and the popsicle beams. I’ve missed them.

    Best of luck to Courtney, I think she’s going to need it. Surely she knows what she’s getting into, right?

    1. “Glorious train wreck of a power struggle” — YES and I am here for it.

  2. Well I would imagine this will assure that all the future recruits will not change their minds now….

  3. Natalie Vaculik’s twitter account has returned UGA Class of 2018 to the profile.

    But, Jasmine Arnold and Carolyn Bradford have not indicated they’ll return to Georgia and Samantha Durante has removed all references that she’ll be walking onto the UGA team in 2018 for her social media.

    No word on whether Lauren Johnson will still want to walk on if she’s granted a fifth year…

    1. Well Johnson’s vault and Vaculik’s bars would be nice to have next season, so I would assume they will have a conversation with them about coming back. Bradford and Arnold coming back doesn’t matter too too much seeing as they weren’t really making lineups anyway, but perhaps having them rejoin the team will improve morale. Of course Samantha Durante is no longer coming. Why would she join a team that just ousted her mother. I honestly feel the worst for her and I hope she is able to find a spot on another team, but it may be too late.

      1. Agreed. She is in a rough spot. Wishing the best for Samantha Durante.

      2. Wonder if Dana Duckworth would consider offering Sam Durante a walk-on spot at Alabama… How’s her grades can she get an academic scholarship ala Keely McNeer?

        But things get even juicier if Sam walks on at Alabama.

      3. I think Durante will get another job somewhere — Ohio State/Illinois maybe? Sami will likely follow her mom.

        In regards to an academic scholarship, I suspect those are also accounted for by now. It’s already May, it’s not like universities have a bunch of unaccounted scholarships sitting around.

  4. As someone who has only started watching NCAA gym in the last couple of seasons, I don’t know much about Suzanne other than winning and a few colorful descriptions from Spencer. Anyone care to to catch us newbies up to speed? (Preferably in the snarkiest, most BBS-ish tone possible, obvi.)

      1. That’s right! I think I just read the recap, will have to go back and watch in full. I’ve got my research cut out for me.

  5. There was an ESPN documentary called “Sarah and Suzanne” from a few years ago about the rivalry between her and Sarah Patterson from Alabama which is great and worth a watch. I thought there was a BBS recap but I can’t find it.

    1. Spanny did one, I think Gymcastic tweeted or Facebooked the link today

  6. she also posts ALOT in the facebook page “College Gymnastics fans are HERE!” It’s interesting to see the interaction between coach and fans..

    1. Oh yes, she’s heavily into a snarkfest with some of the posters there right now….it’s like watching a car wreck, you can’t turn away..

    1. Hang on, wasn’t that Suzanne that called Ashley Kupet’s ‘huge’ during the competition broadcast?

      1. I don’t think that is what she says. Sounds more like ..”and a double wave”. I can see her saying it, but it would make no sense to say at the end of that routine as she is walking off. And Suzanne doesn’t do stupid commentary.

      2. Oh she definitely said it. She even admitted to saying it. Check out the post on College Gymnastics Fans are Here on Facebook.

  7. Googling to find the popsicle stick story… because it sounded like a need to know story.. and found this
    Was disappointed in the popsicle story, but was rewarded by “writing reminder notes on your hands” story! How has this never made it into the SY hall of fame like the “who can feel if the team believes in them?”. Since she had them write different things based on the event, I want to know the change protocol. What happens if your hand still says “chin up” when you get to vault? And are they reading them during the routine? Palm, back of the hand, where exactly were they written? Does that violate the dress code? How are the technical cues decided? So many questions…

  8. One thing that does concern me about Yoculan returning, even as a “volunteer” is her history of defending the Thompsons and their behavior….I’m not sure how it was with Durante but I’d hate to see the resurrection of fat shaming or other lousy coach behaviors in Athens…

  9. This post just made me think of “the people and the girls” from the Under the Lights special, and now I’m laughing out loud. I hope the people and the girls at Georgia have a great season next year.

  10. Just checked the UGA website roster info and Kupets and SY have officially been added and Jay and Phil are no longer listed.

    What’s interesting is Jay, Rogers and Box are still listed as graduate or undergraduate coaches, though since the roster of gymnasts hasn’t changed (seniors still listed, Vega still a freshman) this could just be a technicality.

    1. They don’t usually change over the rosters until summer.

      I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Jay stays involved in some capacity. She has said she wants to be a coach. I could also see them bringing back Doug McAvin(? not sure on spelling). He was a good vault coach.

      1. Did you see the Red & Black article on Jay (it came out in late April, a few days before the UGA gymnasts were “dismissed”)? She seemed very down on the idea of coaching and the politics of it, compared to just worrying about competing. Her main concern right now is her wedding this summer in Florida – she did seem excited that she finished creating her wedding shoes.

  11. I like this move by Georgia. They weren’t going to find any other good NCAA coach or NCAA asst. who would be willing to take that job after the AD fired Jay and Danna. It’s clear making Nationals isn’t good enough and making Super Six isn’t good enough either (look at Danna’s record). Thus, their only option was a UGA alum who has a good relationship with Yoculan and the Administration. Kupets clearly fits that mold. Plus, she has a masters in Sports Admin or something similar. I believe she worked for an athletic department at a school in North Carolina or somewhere and also did a short position at Georgia.

  12. Sometimes great gymnasts become great coaches. Often, though, they don’t. It seems like generally it’s mediocre-to-pretty-good gymnasts who make excellent coaches. I have no problem giving Courtney this shot though. She’s quite literally the greatest college gymnast of all-time (NO debate – and I’m a hardcore Utah fan). I think Georgia will do better under this administration than Durante, and they might swing some recruits their way, but I do not expect them to win a championship in the next 4+ years. It would take YEARS to reach the level that Oklahoma, LSU, and Florida are currently at.

    I think Sarah was a good foe for Suzanne. The Jenny Rowlands and Dana Duckworths of the world? No. Can you IMAGINE a SUPER bitchy Suzanne eating those two for lunch? HA! I can’t wait.

    1. Re: “It seems like generally it’s mediocre-to-pretty-good gymnasts who make excellent coaches.” Makes sense since they had to figure things out, whereas naturally gifted athletes rarely had to pause to think about which correction made sense or how to implement a correction or how to push themselves just a little more. If Kupets can do it well, more power to her, but there may be a learning curve in terms of figuring out how to coach people who are not as insanely talented as she was.

  13. There are so many aspects to coaching.
    I think where Courtney excelled as a gymnast (besides everywhere) was in her mental game. I have always loved the attitudes of gymnasts who were coached by Kelli Hill. Look how Elise Ray is succeeding at Washington.
    Kupets also knows a thing or two about coming back from injuries. And listening to her (recent) commentary, you can tell she has a good eye for technique. I hope Suzanne just shows her the ropes around the administrative side of things and doesn’t spend too much time in the gym

  14. Also, can we talk about who will bring good artistry and choreography to UGA?

    I love that Kupets admits that she is a horrible dancer. So, she will be looking to have someone else take care of that side of things. I don’t know about keeping Durante’s top-secret choreographer – they could seriously use an upgrade and some fresh ideas not poached from other school’s routines.

    1. I wouldn’t be surprised if the top-secret choreographer was Durante herself. Personally, I loved Cassidy McComb’s choreography and wouldnt complain if she was bought back.

  15. Elise Ray is doing an excellent job at the University of Washington, and obviously Rhonda Faehn had a “slight” amount of success at Florida. Both were excellent NCAA gymnasts, as well as elites, so I’m guessing at least part of their coaching success was/is derived from knowing how to compete successfully in the collegiate environment, and passing that knowledge along to their athletes. Plus, who in their right mind would disregard advice from the greatest collegiate athlete of all time?

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