Georgia College for the first time offered varsity Sports in 1968 when Floyd Anderson became the first Athletic Director. The following sports were initiated: Women’s Gymnastics, Men’s Baseball, Men’s & Women’s Tennis and Men’s Soccer.
The first Women’s Gymnastics Coach was Delene J. Darts and she started the first varsity women’s gymnastics program in 1968. Mrs. Darts was a pioneer in women’s gymnastics in the South as she also had to train her own rated judges. Her program became very successful in competing in the Southeast against other University Teams. In 1969, they recorded the first collegiate victory for a Georgia College sports program. They finished with a 2-3 record after meets with teams including the University of Florida and the University of South Carolina.
The second coach was Judy Fath until Spring of 1973. Geza Martiny took over the women’s varsity gymnastics program Fall of 1973. Women’s Intercollegiate Sports were first offered by the G.A.I.A.W. (Georgia Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.) with State Championships. The first Regional Championships for women in gymnastics took place at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida organized by the new women’s organization, A.I.A.W. (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women) in the Spring of 1972.
The first A.I.A.W. Regional Championship was hosted by the University of Georgia in the Spring of 1974 which officially qualified individuals for the first A.I.A.W. National Championship. Ms. Susan Jones of GC was the first and only qualifier from the A.I.A.W. Regional to the first A.I.A.W. National Championships. There were several organizational changes in women’s intercollegiate sports over the years. The A.I.A.W. created two divisions: Small College (by enrollment) and Large College.
The highlight of the program at Georgia College was the two national championships in back-to-back years, 1981 and 1982. These are the only two national championships in any sport in Georgia College history. They had one third place finish in the National Championships (1988) and three fourth place finishes (1984-1986). Georgia College women won three individual national championships as well. Missy (Thomas) Swicord won the uneven bars in 1988 and Janielle Tucker won the balance beam and floor exercise in 1982.
GC hosted the first A.I.A.W. Small College National Championships here in Milledgeville at the newly built Baldwin County Recreation Center. GC also hosted the first N.A.I.A. National Women’s gymnastics Championships here in Milledgeville.
The women’s gymnastics team had a total had a total of 10 All-Americans in their history: Fredrina Bean, Christine Morris, Missy (Thomas) Swicord, Janice Wolfe, Marcia Maioli, Nancy Gilstrap, Yeini Gutierrez, Kevonne Stouder and Janielle Tucker. Two members of the women’s gymnastics program are inducted into the Georgia College Athletics Hall of Fame, Missy (Thomas) Swicord and Yeini (Gutierrez) Thompson. When GC joined the NCAA Division II the women’s varsity program continued its success on the national level in this new organization. The women’s gymnastics program at Georgia College was dissolved in 1991.
[big thank you to Geza Martiny for his assistance with this information]