Former North Stars gymnast, Noel Couch, had a positive impact on the University of Georgia as a student-athlete, and received many athletic and academic awards. Now, Couch faces new life challenges as she continues her education through UGA law school, and interns in Washington D.C.
Couch was enrolled in her first gymnastics class when she was two years old. With a love for gymnastics, she grew up through the North Stars program and developed into a high-level athlete. In 2008, Couch qualified as a Junior International Elite gymnast, was J.O. level 10 state beam and floor champion and record holder, J.O. level 10 regional vault champion, and J.O. national beam champion. In 2009, Couch was J.O. level 10 state all-around champion, J.O. level 10 regional vault and bars champion, J.O. national floor champion, and J.O. national all-around champion.
“One moment that always stands out for me is winning the all-around at J.O. Nationals my senior year of high school. It was my final season training and competing at North Stars before I would be joining the Georgia Gymnastics team,” Couch explained. After falling twice on the balance beam at the J.O. Regional Championship that year, Couch still qualified for the J.O. National Championship where she nailed her skills on every event. Couch felt “surprised, proud, and humbled” when they announced her name as J.O. National Champion. “I had captured first place by a mere .025. Smiling at Tony from atop the podium was one of the proudest moments of my life,” she said.
In 2009, Couch continued her gymnastics career on a full-ride scholarship at the University of Georgia. She excelled both athletically and academically at UGA. As a result, she received a total of 16 awards, with six being scholarships. Couch also represented UGA Athletic Board of Directors, L.E.A.D., Student-Athlete Leadership Academy, the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, and the Deans of Students Advisory Board.
Couch’s awards include Academic All-American (2009-13), the Frank Ramsey Memorial Scholarship (2015), Athletic Scholarship (2009-13), NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship (2013), Southeastern Conference Brad Davis Postgraduate Scholarship (2013), Ramsey Scholarship (2012-13), Southeastern Conference Gymnastics Community Service Team (2013), Tucker Dorsey Memorial Scholarship Award (2012), Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll (2010-13), Athletic Director's Honor Roll (2009-13), Dean's List (2009, 2011 spring and fall semester), Who's Who Among Students in American Universities & Colleges (2011-13), Coca-Cola All-American Athlete for Community Service (2012, 2012), UGA Athletic Association Team Award for Academic Excellence (2011-12), Hornsby Howell Community Service Award (2012, 2013), and the Bulldog Cup (2012).
Throughout her time at North Stars and at the University of Georgia, Couch learned lessons from her gymnastics coaches and developed values that she applies to her everyday life. She explained how Owner and Head Coach at North Stars, Tony Gehman, had a positive effect on her as a person. “Tony instilled in me the values of hard work, passion, and consistency. He taught me how to be a champion, not just in the gym, but also in life,” she said. “I carried those lessons with me as I began my career at Georgia where they were further developed and enhanced.”
Aside from her coaches, the sport of gymnastics taught her many lessons as well. “Gymnastics requires the utmost dedication to the sport, including focus and enthusiasm each and every day. The day to day training, which includes time management, concentration in each moment, and excitement to learn something new has helped me prepare for my future as I make decisions about my career path and gain experience to follow that path,” she added.
Couch received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia in International Relations and Affairs, as well as, Digital and Broadcast Journalism in 2014. Now, she studies law at UGA and is completing a semester in Washington D.C. as a student intern for the University of Georgia Office of Government Relations. Her goals are to network with people on Capitol Hill and to obtain an internship in Washington D.C. for this summer.
Couch advises younger gymnasts to “work hard and exhibit enthusiasm in their training each and every day.” She compared the application of these two qualities to putting money in the bank. “The more successful training days, the more money they (younger gymnasts) put in the bank,” she explained. “Then later, whether at Nationals or at an interview for a dream job, they can cash in on that hard work.”
Couch’s secret to success is “if you’re going to show up, be your best, and have some fun! It’s as simple as that.”