The Girl Scouts of South Carolina – Mountains to Midlands selected two Converse women, Converse athletic director Joy Ayers Couch and alumna Dr. Fern Powell, as the 2015 Women of Distinction from the Cherokee, Spartanburg, and Union areas. The honorees were recognized for their service to others and impact on their community, and for demonstrating qualities of courage, confidence, and character.
Joy Ayers Couch, athletic director at Converse College, has been an incredible force for growing momentum, visibility, programs and enrollments at the College. Since her arrival in 2007, the College earned full membership as a NCAA Division II program—the highest level of play for any women’s college in the nation. Couch also doubled Converse’s programs to include eleven sports, most recently softball. And, the number of student-athletes has grown from 37 in 2007 to 175 in 2015.
Leading up to Converse, she accumulated 28 years of experience serving as a physical education teacher, department chair, and girl’s basketball coach at Dorman High School from 1998 to 2007. There she led the Cavaliers to three AAAA state championship victories and won the regional championship every year. Her overall record at Dorman was 240-36. Prior to Dorman, Couch achieved impressive records as golf, volleyball and basketball coach at Chapman High School while teaching physical education at Inman Elementary. She also taught and coached at Broome High School and Byrnes High School and served as coordinator of women’s athletics and coach at Limestone College. Her overall high school basketball coaching record is 551-186.
Couch was selected to coach the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WCBA) – Nike High School All-American game in 2005 and was also named the Head Coach in 2002 for the NC – SC All Star game. She has received numerous Coach of the Year awards including multiple honors as the Spartanburg Herald-Journal Coach of the Year. She has been named Girl’s Basketball AAAA and AAA State Coach of the Year, and received S.C. North/South All-Star Coach awards in both volleyball and basketball. She was named the 2007 Russell Athletic/WBCA National Coach of the Year by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) and was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Coaches Association Hall of Fame in July, 2007.
Couch received a Masters of Education degree from the University of South Carolina in 1982 and a Bachelor of Science in Health and Physical Education from Winthrop University in 1977. She has one child, Dyar Jennings, and three grandchildren. She resides in Spartanburg, with her husband, Roger, and their dog, Gus.
Dr. Fern Powell, O.D. is a Spartanburg native and the daughter of beloved former Converse professor Dr. “Botany Bob” Powell. She graduated from Converse and the University of Alabama School of Optometry and completed a residency in hospital-based optometry at the Veteran’s Administration Medical Center in Huntington, WV. Dr. Powell returned to Spartanburg to join Dr. Shelley in practice at Carolina Vision Associates in 1992.
She is a member of the American Optometric Association, the South Carolina Optometric Association and is the past president of the Piedmont Chapter of the Optometric Association.
Powell is active with many organizations in our community. She is currently the chairman and board member for HALTER – an organization providing therapy through horse riding for those with disabilities. She is also an advisor for the Glaucoma Awareness Foundation, an advocate for “Friends of Croft” and has been an active lay leader at St. Paul United Methodist Church. Previously she was a member of Spartan West Rotary.
Dr. Powell enjoys spending time with her family, friends and patients. Her hobbies and special interests include hiking, running, kayaking, bird-watching and horseback riding.