Couch & Crystal Lee

By Kevin Grogan – The National Training Center (NTC) is certainly the spot for Northern groups to come down for some warmer base training this time of year.  Boasting the States longest swimming pool that has recently been redone in August and a state of the art Track complex just beneath the pool, these are only two of the reasons why the facility is hopping with professional athletes and Olympians alike. This past year, Ohio native Kim Couch was promoted to the new Director of the NTC after more than a decade making the place what it is.  With this in mind, it’s clear to see why the charismatic Couch was promoted from within to the Director position.  The South Lake Tablet was able to chat with Couch on a brisk paced walk through the South Lake Hospital Campus.

Tablet:  You’ve spent close to 15 years at the National Training Center; always making it a better place be.  The past year you were named Director. Talk a little bit about how it has grown and also your vision for the future.

Couch: The NTC has grown exponentially since I first began working here, both in volume and in services and expertise.  Our membership volume has expanded rapidly, and we’ve gone from a handful of visiting teams each season to thousands of athletes walking through our doors every month.  Looking toward the future, we are excited to continue to focus on the prevention side of healthcare for our residents as we seek to add more programming to keep our community healthy.  On the training side, we are continuing to strengthen our relationships with governing bodies to further solidify our reputation as a trusted name in warm-weather training.  We are also focusing on recruitment for training during times of the year that are “off-season” such as summer and early fall to be able to create additional economic impact in south Lake County.

Tablet:  You have seen the National Training Center grow from your early days.  What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced since taking over the Center last year?

Couch: Probably the most significant challenge we face is trying to meet all the needs of our various audiences.  We would love to be able to service more residents through additional programming and welcome more teams and events through facility usage.  We keep our facilities busy and full but know that in our growing community, there will continue to be high demand for sports and fitness and welcome the challenge to try and meet them all.

Tablet:  Husband Jason Couch is a professional bowler.  You worked for the Professional Bowlers Association way back; is that how you met?

Couch: Yes, I was a publicist for the Professional Bowlers Association, which is where we first met.  And no, I do not bowl – not very well anyway – and no, we do not go to the bowling center for date night.

Tablet:  You have two daughters and balance a full load of mom responsibilities. We see you in carpool lines & dance recitals all around town. What is your typical day like or is there such a thing?

Couch:  I feel fortunate to have such a full plate, without a “typical” day, and love every minute of it.  After getting my two girls on the bus in the morning, it is a full day of work and then depending on the day either driving to acting class, soccer practice or volleyball.

Tablet:  You are a huge Ohio sports fan.  Talk a bit about growing up there and the influence it has had on what you do today.

Couch: I grew up in Akron, outside of Cleveland and, of course, home to Lebron.  But long before Lebron was even born, my dad, who played baseball throughout college, was taking me to nearly every Cavs home game, all the Force games (this was their soccer team) and Cleveland Indians games in the summer.  I joined the swim team at age 4 and swam throughout high school and played water polo at Ohio University.  I was also fortunate to intern at IMG at their headquarters in Cleveland in college and, this along with my love for sports helped propel my career in the industry.

Tablet:   You are very active in the community on top of all your Director responsibilities.  How important is it to surround yourself with a great team & support crew like you have at the Center and home?

Couch: I try to stay active in the community, at chamber events, my children’s school, Lake-Sumter State College’s Foundation, and at various community events. I am not always sitting in my office, and I’m able to do so much because I work with an amazing group of dedicated co-workers at the NTC and the hospital. They support each other to ensure we can all serve our community.  I also have a very understanding husband who knows how much I believe in my organization and community. His support, along with his family and my great friends when he is traveling, is critical to allowing me to be involved.

Tablet:  What are some things you enjoy doing when you aren’t at the NTC?

Couch: When away from work, I’m usually at the NTC.  I like to say I most definitely embrace the idea of living, working and playing in the community and I probably spend 80% of my time on the 180-acre hospital campus because when I’m not working, my kids are usually at practice or enjoying the facilities.  But, we also spend a lot of time at the local parks and on the trails. The more we’re outside, the happier we are.  We have great neighbors as well, so we can spend a whole weekend not leaving the house and love it! And, I’ll never turn down a trip to the beach.

Tablet: You always wear a bright smile around the South Lake Hospital Campus. You are so happy and so positive. With such a demanding position, does this get you through some difficult times?

Couch: Absolutely, it is always easier to get through the day if you’re smiling and positive.  I am very grateful to be a part of the NTC, the hospital, and this community.  Gratitude is something we focus on a lot at the hospital and NTC, and I can always find multiple things to be grateful for each and every day. I usually have no reason not to smile.

Tablet:  How long have you lived in Clermont and what is your favorite thing about living in South Lake?

Couch: I have lived in Clermont since 2003.  My favorite things about South Lake are the small community feel and community collaboration and, of course, the gorgeous resources we have including the lakes, trails, hills and palm trees! Being from Ohio, I still feel like I’m on vacation every time I see a palm tree.

Tablet:  Anything else you would like to add?

Couch: I do feel blessed to be a part of this community and hope that what I do helps make a difference. I work for an inspiring group of leaders that are laser-focused on doing what is right for our community. I wouldn’t trade that for anything.  I absolutely love raising my children here and hope always to be able to live, work, and play right where I am!