April 17, 2009

Georgia Head Coach Suzanne Yoculan
Opening Statement
"I don't know how to put it into words. Just an incredible fight from the mistake on the first event and the kind of pressure we felt to rally back on the uneven bars for a good start in that event to balance beam it was shaky, shaky, shaky and even more shaky. I know a lot of people might of lost some confidence in us right there, but this team never doubted itself. The coaches never doubted them. We came into this competition saying zero regrets and leave it all out on the floor. Halfway through in the locker room, we were like, 'what was that?' That didn't look like we were laying it all out there, so we came back. This is a magical team. We have talked about this so many times. The unity, the cohesiveness. It really is a magical team. They have so much fortitude and love and passion for the sport. They never quit. Just like all GymDog teams, they never quit. I am so proud of them. I am so proud of the seniors. Paige [Burns], Abby [Stack] Tiffany [Tolnay] and Courtney [Kupets], I feel totally blessed I had an opportunity to work with these girls in my last year. It has been incredible in terms of their leadership and their support. They have always been behind everything we asked. I just want to applaud them. There is absolutely no way we could have done this without the leadership of our seniors. They were incredible. They taught the freshmen and got them on board right away. Those freshmen came through on the uneven bars right after the miss. That is the future of Georgia gymnastics right there. I could go on and on. I just want the girls to speak. It is definitely their meet. They were the athletes out there tonight. There was something special in the air when Abby started us out with a 9.90, I really felt this was going to be our meet at that point."

Abby Stack on if going for Suzanne's 10th championship put extra pressure on the team...
"I don't think we tried extra hard. We really just tried to go out there and be ourselves. Like she said, we wouldn't have won this championship with our four seniors. We wouldn't have won it without our fifth senior. She provided the leadership for us to win.

Grace Taylor on same question...
"We are all really, really excited because it was something special that we all really wanted to do to send Suzanne back to remember with. It wasn't just a championship, it was an amazing championship. It couldn't get better than this. God bless Suzanne. It was beautiful. We are so honored that we got to be part of this last year for her."

Suzanne on if this is a storybook ending...
"I can't even put it into words. They have taught me so much. It is just an unbelievable group of young ladies all 15 of them. I can't even begin to tell you how much they have taught me. Faith is their rock and they taught me that faith is my rock. They taught me that over the last four years. My faith in God has never been stronger than it is right now. I truly believe you are only handed what you can handle. The challenges and the tests along the way just make you that much stronger. I talked to them about that this weekend. I talked to them about we need to have zero regrets and not go out there focusing on winning a national championship because it would be like an elusive butterfly. It just wouldn't happen. They needed to be reminded at halftime. Thank goodness for byes. It came at just the right time for us tonight. The rotation was absolutely perfect for us tonight. It couldn't have been better. It couldn't have been more fun or more exciting. They have taught me so much. I live the blessing every day. I feel blessed but I actually get to live it every day being around them. That is the part of coaching that I am truly going to miss the most is going to be the girls and the relationship with them. It has just been unbelievable.

Courtney on what her performance tonight means for her personally...
"It was amazing. This team has such fight in them. That is why I brought out these boxing gloves. They have to be placed right here because this was our team all year. We went through so many ups and downs and so many meets that were not Georgia gymnastics and then we pulled it back and did it again. This year has been hard. We have fought out way here. That's what makes it the sweetest. It wasn't easy. Every single one of us got on board and fought our way through it. It got us to the national championships and a win. It couldn't mean more to me. I can't believe it is over, but I am so glad it is and this is the way it ended."

Tiffany on having to fight back during the night...
"Like Suzanne said, the meet is not over until the last person goes on vault. It was definitely a team effort from the start to the end. Abby started us out on the floor and that built momentum throughout the next two rotations. It was hit after hit after hit. It was amazing. It is a feeling you can't express. You couldn't do it without all of your girls."

Suzanne on same question...
"It felt great to take it away. I don't think they knew the scores really. I know some of the girls that weren't competing were looking up there. We always believe in laying out a plan for the team and executing the plan and talking to them about how the competition would unfold. Even though there is not offense and defense in gymnastics, I still think there is. In our own way we believe there is something called momentum that is really important in putting the pressure on someone else. We wanted to get first in the clubhouse. Tiger Woods first in the clubhouse. We wanted to set that mark so high that everyone else feels the pressure. After the first two rotations, it didn't feel like that was going to happen. I know what it is like to lose championships and to taste it and feel like it is close and then lose it. I think there were other teams there that might have felt those moments and thought it might be theirs. It is just a good lesson for everyone that it is not over until the last person competes and tonight it was Tiffany for Georgia. It wasn't over until then.

Courtney on her scores of 10 tonight...
"I just want to say I thank God for that because I think I was praying the whole time when I was on those events. It was just amazing. I was set up so great by my teammates. The way they handled the pressure, you could feel that. You could feel the pressure even if you didn't know the scores. You could feel the pressure and you had to go out and control yourself. That's what I did and it paid off."

Paige on how this championship is different from past years...
"I think this championship is different from years past because it t really was a fight from the beginning to the end, from the first person to the last. It really made a difference. When we came out of the bye, we said we are going to do floor like we did at SECs. We had fun. That is what we came out to do again and we accomplished that. We did have to take it away from two other teams so it just makes the victory that much sweeter. Not to mention for the seniors it is our fourth in a row so we don't know what it's like to lose. For Suzanne, we are sending her out with her 10th championship, so we couldn't ask for a better way for it to done."

Courtney on four championships in a row for the seniors...
"I think that is just amazing. The seniors did it last year. You look at them at you are like, 'wow, that is really cool and I hope I can do that.' It is a big pressure and that is a big thing to focus on. If we didn't do it, that was going to be okay, but to do it felt great."

Suzanne on same question...
"There were a lot of things that were different. Not to point a finger at Marcia (Newby). She came back strong on the vault and she has been a rock for us all year. She was so funny because when she fell off the bars she said sorry, sorry, sorry and she came running back screaming for everyone else to hit. When we finished the bar rotation she was like thank you, thank you, thank you. I think she is OK with us talking about it, but I can't remember another championship we won where the first person fell. That was a lot different. There were a lot of moments in the first half of the meet where we were digging deep. It was a huge fight on the beam. Hilary (Mauro) almost came off the beam. She fought and she stayed on. (Courtney) McCool had to fight to stay on. Grace (Taylor) sprained her ankle yesterday. I don't even think you know that because we don't talk about injuries a whole lot. Every team has injuries and we don't really talk about them a whole lot. She sprained her ankle yesterday pretty bad and had three or four treatments today. Balance beam was hard for her. It was difficult for her to take those hard landings. Before she went I said, 'you just have to suck it up and take the landings.' You could see her wincing three or four times during her beam routine. There was just fight everywhere throughout the lineup. The two freshmen coming back on bars right after a mistake was huge. That was huge just to get that momentum going. Everyone just stepped up huge. The people that weren't competing were right there doing every single routine. It was definitely 15 athletes in that corral competing today with one heart the whole way."

Courtney on same question...
"I have one more thing to add. I think the difference for me was I think we all felt connected to each other. I don't think I felt this connected to my team in a championship event before. It was just amazing. That is what makes it that much better. To be invested in every single girl out there whether they are competing in that event or not. You could feel them."

Tiffany on same question...
"To add to what Courtney said, we all did 24 routines tonight together. It is a team effort and exhausting."