COLUMBIA — Jim Zepp and Heather Nowack are co-coaches for the Columbia Acro and Tumbling Team, which is participating in this week’s national competition in Palm Springs, Calif. Despite being extremely busy getting their team and themselves prepared for the upcoming competition, Zepp and Nowack were able to take a little time from their busy schedule for their wedding. They also took a week-long honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii.
The two were married on June 30, but Nowack won’t take Zepp’s last name until after nationals because boarding the plane to Palm Springs under her new name would be too much of a hassle.
The couple met when Zepp was a cheerleader for MU. At the time, Nowack’s sister, who was also a cheerleader for MU, introduced the two. From there, their relationship kept growing and eventually Nowack introduced Zepp to sport acrobatics.
“It was easy to get him into,” Nowack said “He’s a natural.”
The two started competing as partners, but they decided that competing together put an unnecessary strain on their relationship. Even though competing would be stressful, they enjoyed practicing together.
“We used to do moves in the living room for fun,” Zepp said. “If I was sitting on the couch, she’d call me over and say ‘Let’s do a move.’”
Even though they don’t compete together anymore, sometimes coaching together can be difficult for the couple as well. The couple tries to keep their personal life separate from their coaching.
“We don’t want to step on each other’s toes,” Zepp said. “We’re pretty good about separating work from our personal life.”
Zepp says he knew right away that he liked Nowack and after a few years, he said he finally got comfortable enough to ask Nowack to marry him. From there everything just fell into place. He proposed in front of about 300 people at a meet in Owensville in March of 2006, even though Nowack didn’t want a public proposal. The couple had been dating for three and a half years.
“I had just competed and ran upstairs to get the ring,” Zepp recalled. “Then I came back downstairs and did a standing back tuck to one knee and proposed.”
Despite being embarrassed and threatening not to accept the proposal if he did it in a public place, Nowack said she was excited when Zepp finally asked.
“I was in shock when he asked,” Nowack said. “It was a complete surprise.”
Even though she was surprised by the proposal, she knew that eventually the time would come when he would ask.
“We have fun together,” Nowack said “(CATT) is something we can do together. It’s not just me going to practice and competitions, it’s us together.”
Zepp echoed Nowack’s sentiments saying, “It helps that we understand each other.”
According to Zepp, that understanding is one of the key elements in helping their relationship grow — as co-coaches and as husband and wife.