Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tribute to a High Heel'd Dawg

During her reign as gymnastics coach at Georgia, Suzanne Yoculan has been recognized as much for her boldness and style as the nine NCAA titles and 16 SEC titles she has contributed to the trophy case. 

No, that wasn't a typo. Yoculan's ladies are in Lincoln, Nebraska this week going for their 10th National Championship. Regardless of how you feel about women's athletics, Title IX or Yoculan herself...she gets it. 

She knows how to prepare her team and put them in position to succeed, on the floor and off of it. What's more, she has consistently brought out the best in her ladies when it mattered the most.

GymDog fans have reaped the benefits of her hard work and dedication since 1983.

There's a great piece by Jennifer Iannone of the Banner-Herald on the GymDogs' perspective heading into Thursday's NCAAs. Reading it can give any collegiate sports fan pause, an opportunity to reflect on the legacy Yoculan has built on campus in Athens.

And in case you weren't aware, Yoculan is a Penn State graduate where another collegiate coach is ending a dynasty...eventually. 

Are they a dying breed of coach? Has today's mantra of gimmegimmegimmeNOW left coaches like Bowden, JoePa, Dean Smith, Yoculan, others behind?

It brings (back) to mind Low's write-up on CMR last week where he outlined the lengths Georgia's coach has gone to to put down roots in Athens; roots remarkably similar to ones Yoculan put down some two and a half decades ago. The message is clear: as long as the rabid fanbase is happy with Richt's feathery hair, he's happy to grace Sanford's sideline with it.

For these 26 years GymDog fans have certainly been happy with the energy, enthusiasm and high heels Yoculan has graced the matted floor of Stegeman with.

Most Dawg fans hope the time Richt leaves comes later rather than sooner. And sure, college football coaching is a bit more of a pressure cooker than college gymnastics. But Yoculan's resume is as impressive for its stability as it is its championships. Or at least almost as impressive.

Regardless of the outcome this week in Lincoln, Yoculan's 26 years at UGA will be remembered as glory years in college gymnastics. Sadly, it is the end of an era. 

Happily, it is an era filled with hardware, hard work and a LOT of years.

Coach Yoculan = DamnGoodDawg

(If you didn't CLICK above, check out Yoculan's newly launched website for more on her accomplishments as a coach, teacher, steward and citizen of Athens, GA)


MikeInValdosta said...

Her Hall of Fame snub is ridiculous. If she has not EARNED the right to be there, they should not have one.

Can you say "John Wooden, Bear Bryant, Pat Summit"? Her accomplishments blow them all away.

Please hold all judgment for the GymDawgs performance.

Thanks, Bernie

Bernie said...

Her name will find residence there someday...hopefully sooner rather than later. Some still have an Ozzie and Harriet mindset in a Ross and Rachel era - if you'll excuse the loose analogy.

Speaking of which...good names you have there keeping Yoculan's company. And you're right - remarkably, hers is greater.

Cheri Leavy said...

I loved your post, Yoculan is a super star for sure! We are doing a special section to pay tribute to her in June in our print issue of Bulldawg Illustrated. I am only sorry that I didn't realize how electric and fun the meets were until the last few years. So fun! Great post!

Bernie said...

Glad you enjoyed it Cheri. I'm really only responsible for turning the laptop on. The keyboard does the rest. : )