Meet your Georgia Gymdogs’ 2017 recruiting class which includes gymnasts Samantha Durante, Ashley Foss, Madison McPherson, Marissa Oakley and Emily Schild.
Georgia gymnastics head coach Danna Durante announced the final member of the 2017-18 freshman class with the addition of Madison McPherson on Monday.
“The 2017 class is a very complete, well-rounded class,” said Durante. “they have a high skill level on all four events. Their work ethic is through the roof and their competitive nature as a group really stands out. We’re thrilled to have them join our Gymdog family and watch them continue their athletic careers here. Additionally, we’re excited to be a part of their journey of personal growth as we prepare them for the next chapter of their life.”
Samantha Durante comes to the Gymdogs having trained at Georgia Elite Gymnastics, where she is coached by Pete Arenas, Cassidy Bernstein, Amber Stiles and Doug McAvinn. She took home the 2015 Region 8 Level 10 all-around, bars and beam championships, and she was the 2015 Georgia State Level 10 all-around, vault and beam champion. A two-time Junior Olympic Level 10 National Championships qualifier, Durante also qualified for the 2015 National Elite Championships.
What she brings: “Sami has a fierce, intense, competitive nature about her. She’s just a tough kid. If she sets a goal for herself she’s going to figure out a way to accomplish it.”
Why Georgia: “I chose Georgia because it felt like family. I knew that coming here I would learn a lot of more than enough to prepare me in all walks of life for the future.”
Ashley Foss comes to the Gymdogs having trained at North Star Gymnastics, where she is coached by Tony Gehman and Ashley Umberger. She was the 2016 Junior Olympic Level 10 national beam champion. Foss has extensive experience at elite competitions, having competed in the 2012 and 2013 Secret U.S. Classics, the 2012 Visa Championships, and the 2011 and 2012 American Classics, where she finished sixth and fifth in all-around, respectively.
What she brings: “What sets Ashley apart is that unique style that she brings in the way she performs. She will absolutely captivate our home crowd in Stegeman Coliseum.”
Why Georgia: “I chose Georgia because it has everything that every kid could ever dream of having in a college – great academics, a great athletic program, a beautiful campus, amazing coaches, loving, supportive teammates, too many things to list! I knew from the moment I stepped on campus that Georgia was the school for me. I got a certain feeling when I was there that no other school gave me. It just felt right, like putting the last piece of a puzzle into place.”
Madison McPherson comes to the Gymdogs having trained at Georgia Elite Gymnastics where she is coached by Pete Arenas, Cassidy Bernstein, Amber Stiles, Doug McAvinn and John Young. McPherson won the vault championship at the 2017 USA Gymnastics Invitational while also taking third in the all-around. The 2015 Georgia state bar champion, she was a top 10 all-around finisher at the Georgia Level 10 State Championships in each of the past three years. A three-time Region 8 Level 10 Championships qualifier, McPherson also finished second in the all-around at the 2017 Elevate the Stage Gymnastics Invitational.
What she brings: “Madison is a terrific fit for our program; she is not only strong academically and athletically but is also a person of great character. We’re excited for her to join our family. She’s an Athens native who has always dreamed of being a part of the Gymdog program. She’ll bring strong vault and floor with potential to contribute in all areas within our program.”
Why Georgia: “Growing up in Athens, I’ve had the opportunity to experience many Gymdog meets. The atmosphere is something you can’t find anywhere else. Competing in Stegeman Coliseum has always been a dream of mine and I couldn’t be more excited!”
Marissa Oakley comes to the Gymdogs having trained at Everest Gymnastics, where she is coached by Qi Han and Yiwen Chen. Oakley has appeared at major elite championships including the 2014 P&G championships, 2014 Secret U.S. Classic and 2014 American Classic, where she finished second on beam, sixth on floor and eighth in the all-around. Oakley also was a 2014 National Elite qualifier, where she took the championship on bars and finished third in the all-around. A Junior Olympic Level 10 National Qualifier from 2011-2014, Oakley was the 2013 Level 10 Region 5 all-around and bar champion.
What she brings: “She just won’t quit. She has an unbelievable work ethic. Marissa is the type of person that gives her all every day in every area of her life.”
Why Georgia: “As soon as I stepped on campus, I developed an immediate sense of a supportive, welcoming and family-oriented environment. Home is not where you live but where they understand you!”
Emily Schild comes to the Gymdogs having trained at Everest Gymnastics, where she is coached by Qi Han and Yiwen Chen. Schild has represented the U.S. in international competitions for the 2015 and 2016 Jesolo Trophy and at the 2015 Pan-American Games in Toronto, Canada. Schild found tremendous success at all events, part of the gold-winning team in all three. Most recently in Jesolo in 2016, Schild finished third on vault, fifth on bars and seventh in the all-around. She also competed at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she finished ninth on vault. Schild also competed at the 2013, 2015 and 2016 P&G championships.
What she brings: “Emily will bring great gymnastics on every single event. She’s somebody who absolutely works to get better every single day. I’m excited for her to join us because she is exactly what we’re all about.”
Why Georgia: “I chose Georgia because they have a rich tradition of earning national championships. No one supports their gymnastics program better than the coaches, trainers, academic advisors, students, alumni and the town of Athens! It’s an honor to be a Georgia Gymdog!”