Courtesy University of Georgia Communications
ATHENS, Ga. April 29, 2009 — Georgia’s Courtney Kupets, the winningest gymnast in NCAA history, has been named the recipient of the 2009 Honda Sports Award as the nation’s top collegiate gymnast.
Kupets, a senior from Athens, also won the Honda Award in 2007 and was a finalist in 2006. In national balloting among 1,000 NCAA member schools, Kupets was voted ahead of three other finalists – University of Utah’s Kristina Baskett, Louisiana State University’s Ashleigh Clare-Kearney and University of Denver’s Jessica Lopez.
"Winning this award again means a great deal to me," said Kupets, who was a member of the 2004 Olympic silver-medal team and is a former U.S. all-around champion. " I am humbled and honored to win the Honda Award for the second time, especially since the other finalists are such amazing gymnasts. I am so happy that I get to share the award with my teammates, my coaches and our fans. Individual awards would not be possible without their support and love, so I proudly accept the award on behalf of all of them and the University of Georgia. Gymnastics has been an important part of my life for years, and it’s given me so many opportunities – athletically, academically and socially – that I might not have had otherwise. This was definitely a memorable year for all of us, and I am thrilled that it ended with our fifth straight national championship."
Kupets now is automatically nominated for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year Award. The Honda-Broderick Cup will be presented to the winner at a ceremony in New York in June.
After missing the second half of the 2008 season with an Achilles injury, Kupets was the nation’s most dynamic gymnast in 2009. She won the all-around, bars, beam and floor competitions at the NCAA Championship, giving her a record nine individual national titles in just three seasons. She also became the first gymnast in NCAA history to win a national title in each event. Moreover, Kupets paced the Gym Dogs to their fifth straight and 10th overall national championship.
Kupets earned five All-America honors in 2009, giving her the maximum of 15 for the three years in which she participated in the NCAAs. She was named the AAI National Senior, SEC and Southeast Regional Gymnast of the Year. Kupets recorded seven perfect 10.0s, including at least one in each event to become just the third Gym Dog to accomplish that feat.
Kupets also is an academic standout for Georgia. She was named to the Fall Semester Athletic Director’s Honor Roll, was chosen as Georgia’s recipient of the Boyd McWhorter Scholarship and won UGA’s Marilyn Vincent Award as the senior female student-athlete with the highest grade point average. She has a 3.8 GPA in Housing.
" Courtney was absolutely incredible this season," Georgia coach Suzanne Yoculan said. " I have called her ‘a mental giant’ many times because of her ability to set a goal and ultimately reach it. This year, she was so focused and so driven to lead her team to another NCAA title. She deserves all of the individual awards she has gotten, but she went about her business with humility and she always put the team first. She has been a great ambassador for the University of Georgia and for collegiate gymnastics."
The Gym Dogs have boasted the winner of the Honda Award three straight years as Kupets won in 2007 and 2009 and Katie Heenan won in 2008. Additional past winners from Georgia include Lucy Wener in 1989, Hope Spivey in 1991, Kim Arnold in 1997 and 1998, and Karin Lichey in 1999.
Previously announced Honda Award recipients are Texas Tech’s Sally Kipyego for cross country, Susie Rowe from Maryland for field hockey, Casey Nogueira from North Carolina for soccer, Nicole Fawcett from Penn State for volleyball, Dana Vollmer from Cal-Berkeley for swimming and diving, and Renee Montgomery from Connecticut for basketball. Honda Award winners in golf, lacrosse, softball, tennis, and track and field will be announced in the coming weeks. The Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year will be determined by separate balloting involving all NCAA-member institutions, and the winner will receive the Honda-Broderick Cup.
American Honda Motor Co., Inc. sponsors the Collegiate Women Sports Awards Program. See awards.honda.com for more information.