Updated: New UGA gymnastics coach Danna Durante ‘not intimidated’ by size of job

UPDATED WITH QUOTES FROM DURANTE, YOCULAN . . .

ATHENS – Georgia didn’t waste any time choosing a new direction for its championship-rich gymnastics program.

Durante

Durante

The Bulldogs on Wednesday announced they had tabbed Danna Durante (pronounced DAN-uh Doo-RAN-tay) as the new gymnastics coach. Her official hire comes 19 days after athletic director Greg McGarity asked for coach Jay Clark’s resignation and word of her appointment was circulated among Georgia’s gymnasts and administrators as early this past weekend.

Durante, 39, comes to Georgia from the University of California-Berkeley– aka Cal — where she was head coach for just one season. She was a longtime assistant at Nebraska and Washington before that — she was the 2007 National Assistant Coach of the Year — and was a gymnast herself at Arizona. She is considered a expert coach on balance beam, an area where the Gym Dogs have struggled in recent years.

Though she has only one year of head coaching experience, Durante insisted she is not overwhelmed by the challenge of taking over a program that has won 10 national championships, including five in a row just three years ago.

“I’m not intimidated,” Durante said during a teleconference call with reporters Wednesday evening. “There are very few gymnastics programs in the country that have the success and get the amount of coverage that Georgia does. But it’s not something that intimidates me. . . . It’s something I’ve been prepared for along the way and it’s exciting. I’m excited about being the face of that program and being able to promote women’s gymnastics.”

At Cal this past season, the Bears finished eighth out of eight teams in the Pac-12 Championships and did not qualify as a team for NCAA regionals. At Nebraska, where she spent the previous five seasons, her gymnasts earned a total of 23 All-America honors and she helped guide the Cornhuskers to a fourth place finish at the 2011 NCAA Championships.

“Danna is ready for this challenge,” McGarity said in UGA’s news release.”She embraces the remarkable accomplishments of our gymnastics program, and we’re very confident she will provide the leadership, passion and experience to be successful at UGA. Danna has excelled at every stop along her journey, as a student-athlete, a club coach, an assistant, associate and head coach at outstanding institutions, and we are confident this pattern will continue at UGA.”

Clark was forced out after the Gym Dogs failed to advance to the Super Six round of the NCAA championships for three straight years. They won five consecutive national titles before that under legendary coach Suzanne Yoculan.

Durante believes she can have Georgia back in the hunt in short order.

“If you look at the last few years of Suzanne’s era, it’s kind of a super-human, fairy tale,” she said. “So obviously that’s a difficult standard to live up to and I know that. But obviously there’s talent on the team and they’re very capable getting back to the Super Six in the next year or the year after.”

Durante gets the wholehearted endorsement of Yoculan, who said she has know Durante for many years and praises her in particular for her beam work.

“I think a lot of her as a person,” said Yoculan, who spoke to Durante before she was hired. “She has a lot of vision and is always reaching out to others for information. She talked to a lot of people before she settled on a staff and really focused on surrounding herself with motivated people who are highly regarded in collegiate gymnastics. . . . Danna is energetic and driven and not afraid of challenges or expectations. She is a go-getter and a perfect fit for the Gym Dog program.”

A native of Tulsa, Okla., Durante was a two-time member of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation National team in 1988 and 1990. She qualified for the 1988 Olympic Trials and won top honors in the all-around in 1986 and 1987 at the South African Cup. She competed internationally in Germany, France, Bulgaria and South Africa, and was also a two-time member of the U.S. Gymnastics Federation National Team. In addition, Durante served as a USAG Elite Level Judge from 1996 to 2000.

“Danna has an outstanding background and is highly regarded throughout collegiate gymnastics,” said Carla Williams, UGA executive associate athletic director, who oversaw the search. “We’re looking forward to her energy and expertise in leading our program.”

47 comments Add your comment

Champion Dawg

May 23rd, 2012
6:08 pm

Welcome Danna “Dawg” Durante. Go Dawgs Sic’em. GymDawgs are our premier program playing for National Championships. Bring home Our Trophy.

The Masked Superstar

May 23rd, 2012
6:13 pm

Danna I would suggest bringing in a lady named Courtney Kupets as an assistant coach…. She knows a little bit about winning and gymnastics…

Don

May 23rd, 2012
6:16 pm

Yes absolutely. Finishing 8th in a conference of 8 is a great legacy. Well she has no where to go but up, but I hated to see the Clark’s go. Classy family and a GREAT coach with teriffic recruting skills that will NOT be matched anytime soon.

Champion Dawg

May 23rd, 2012
6:34 pm

AD McGarity, Perno needs replacing. l have no suggestions for Head Baseball Dawg. Andy Landers is not keeping our Georgia High School Girls Basketball Talent home at UGA. Hire Gail Goestencouers or if someone is better get them. Goestencouers is pretty darn good. Coach Richt has my full support. Make sure he has the best assistant coaches possible. Mark Fox has proven he can definitely coach our basketball program. He needs to keep our Georgia High Schoolers home at UGA. If he does our program will climb to top ten status. If he doesn’t recruit, get assistants to help recruit.

bart

May 23rd, 2012
7:09 pm

I agree. Perno needs to go. I’d give Landers another year, but he needs to show definite improvement next year.

john C.C.

May 23rd, 2012
7:46 pm

How can Landers still be around.. Perno needs to go and bring in Mark Kingston from Illinois State.. This guy is a great baseball coach. Was with Tulane when they were revelant

She's new....give her some slack

May 23rd, 2012
7:50 pm

Yep, eight out of eight…well, she’s new blood. Maybe she embraces the Yoculan legacy, and find a place for Yoc to help in any possible capacity.
Perno? Running Ga High School players off with his scholarship pulling policies.
Landers has had a run of bad injury luck for several years….it’s time to show that it’s been bad luck, not a lack of conditioning, coaching, etc..
Fox is the real deal..

1953dawg

May 23rd, 2012
8:04 pm

Perno, Fox, and Landers are all 3 average coaches in an above average conference. The result is middle of the pack teams every year. In Fox’s case it is way below middle of the pack. He will be lucky to finish out of last place again this season. Yet all of these UGA fans rave about what a great coach he is. The guy can’t coach on game day, and he sure as hell can’t recruit in state talent. After he has his 3rd losing season next year, i guess all of these ignorant UGA fans will continue to say how wonderful he is, and now the latest excuse, get him some assistants. OMG, the head coach is responsible for recruiting and hiring his own assistants. wakeup people, the guy can’t recruit players or coaches. As for Perno, i have watched this clown mishandle his bullpen at least 5 games this season, and he blew every game. This after he totally mishandled his bullpen in the College World Series 3 years ago. He gave that championship away to an inferior opponent. He should never get another year, and if he does, McGarity needs to be given his walking papers as well. After all, McGarity has done nothing with the athletic program since he has been at UGA. The athletic program has underachieved under his watch, and the total program is now viewed as mediocre by the nation. Maybe McGarity will grow a pair and actually fire a Men’s program’s coach that is mediocre. I guess if he did that though, there would be no coaches left in the program. Richt, Fox, and Perno would all be gone, because they are all mediocre coaches, with mediocre programs. As as far as Landers, this guy is the worst head coach of any of the coaches of UGA athletic programs.He hasn’t won an SEC title of GOD only knows when. Yet he continues to receive a huge salary to work on his farm and raise horses. Because he sure as hell isn’t getting paid to coach. That sums up UGA’s total athletic program, coaches that are paid great salaries to preach, raise horses, and for Fox and Perno, who knows what they are getting paid to do. I guess in Fox’s case, he is great on Tweeter.

(Unmighty) Georgia has struck out

May 23rd, 2012
8:39 pm

And a 3rd rate Auburn team just wiped the field with a 4th rate Georgia team. Don’t you just love baseball! :-)

goldwreck

May 23rd, 2012
8:40 pm

I thought 1952 dawg was going to tell us what he really thought for a minute.Don’t be bashful.

dawgit

May 23rd, 2012
9:28 pm

Great job! Now where is her picture?

Freehawk

May 23rd, 2012
10:04 pm

His first name is pronounced “Jimmy.”

“You Must remember this, a kiss is just a kiss ….”

Freehawk

May 23rd, 2012
10:05 pm

Tough time to fill Yoculan’s bed, er, I mean shoes

BobDawg

May 23rd, 2012
10:39 pm

It’s “1953Dawg” and he is all knowing…. Kinda like Tide Roll and how he runs the Bama program… Saban calls on him all the time also…

couriousmind

May 23rd, 2012
10:41 pm

Coach Fox need to hire that coach from Columbia HS to help him recruit and keep the Georgia kids home.

Flying Tigers

May 24th, 2012
12:25 am

Better win a national championship within two years or the cess pool will fire your butt too. Good luck with all the TT you are about to encounter. Toto were not in Kansas anymore, hahahahahahaha.

Danna's Dawgies!

May 24th, 2012
7:10 am

Welcome to Athens and UGA. Best of luck with the program Danna!

1953 Dawg is Right Mostly

May 24th, 2012
7:17 am

1953…you’re mostly right with your assessment. My take as a graduate and long follower of UGA Athletics is this…many of those coaches you mentioned are toooooooo comfortable. In my job, I have to produce or I don’t make any money and can’t feed my family. At UGA, they’re comfortable and there’s no incentive to win championships.

It’s sad with 5.9M people in Atlanta nearby and all of the talent that represents that the flagship U can’t win an MNC in football and at least compete highly in basketball (men and women).

Thank the good lord for tennis, gymnastics, equestrian, and golf. That is what UGA really is all about.

Bball fan

May 24th, 2012
8:19 am

Andy Landers has fell well behind the state of Georgia has 10 girls rated in the top 60 in the country for the class of 2013 and none are committed to Georgia. 3 of the top 7 in the country are from Georgia and 2 of them are going to UNC. If Landers can’t keep any of the top girls at home how can he compete and win championships. Time to get some fresh blood in

Andy Landers

May 24th, 2012
8:34 am

I don’t want any of the top kids from Georgia. I am not setting myself up to be criticized for underachieving. If I go out and get the best kids that people know from this state I will be expected to win! I will continue to get mediocre out of state kids and make the NCAA tournament barely every year and keep my job.

Top Dawg

May 24th, 2012
8:36 am

Danna’s hotter than the other coach–that’s a good sign

The Tide is rolling and nothing can stop it

May 24th, 2012
8:54 am

And BTW, we’ll be throwing a party in Tuscaloosa to celebrate Richt and Grantham being around longer. You guys can come if you want to. We’re paying for it with Kirby’s raise that he got as a result of turning UGA down.

keepinitreal

May 24th, 2012
9:26 am

I don’t agree with all of 1953’s points, but his basic thesis has merit. Georgia has become shockingly average in collegiate sports, and frankly, it’s been this way for a while now. The football program hasn’t been a true power since 2007, although things do appear to be trending upward again. Baseball has tanked since 2008, men’s basketball is still irrelevant, and the women’s hoops squad has been second-tier in the SEC for probably over a decade. Sure, some of UGA’s smaller athletic programs are thriving, but in the sports that the most eyeballs are drawn to, the Dawgs aren’t measuring up to some of the other SEC schools.

I have confidence in McGarity because I’ve seen the changes he’s made to help get the football program on track, but the results across the board have to start getting better.

Kburger

May 24th, 2012
9:57 am

It is amazing to me to see all these people complaining about the coaches and mediocrity of their teams and yet 99.9% of them have never coached a team in their lives. They are mostly walking around in mediocre jobs, doing nothing with themselves, but are self righteous enough to think they know what is best. It would be interesting to see just how successful all their suggestions would turn out. However, I am not saying that some coaching changes don’t need to be made but don’t pretend to know all the answers when you have never been in their positions or similar ones.

Dawg Haus

May 24th, 2012
9:58 am

Welcome, Coach Durante!

David

May 24th, 2012
11:49 am

Welcome Coach Danna to the best overall gymnastics program in the NCAA. During this year you will get great support from the fans, Ten-O club members and sellout crowds for almost every home meet. It is sad to see old friends and coaches go; however, mark my words, the Gym Dogs program will battle for the SEC and NCAA title every year. WHY? Because they are the GYM DOGS!!!!

Obama

May 24th, 2012
12:12 pm

Hey, how bout me, I might be looking for a job next year!!!!!!

slydog

May 24th, 2012
12:31 pm

From wikipedia:

“Gail Ann Goestenkors (born February 26, 1963 in Waterford, Michigan), is the former women’s basketball head coach for The University of Texas, having accepted the position on April 3, 2007, replacing the legendary Jody Conradt. Goestenkors resigned as the head coach at Texas on March 19, 2012, stating that her heart was telling her to “take a break” from basketball. Goestenkors was the Duke University women’s basketball head coach from 1992–2007. During her tenure at Duke, she led the Blue Devils to 13 consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, 10 consecutive appearances in at least the Sweet Sixteen (1997–2007), and an NCAA-record seven consecutive 30-win seasons from 2000-2007.[1]”

One more year of Andy Landers, give Coach G her one year break, then hire her immediately after another 1st round exit. The day Maya Moore was allowed to leave this state, skip Tennessee altogether, and go all the freakin way to UCONN was the day Landers should have been fired. End of Story. He completey wasted The Miller Twins and Tasha Humphrey’s eligibility.

Poor Clark

May 24th, 2012
1:30 pm

What a bad break to coach one of the few programs at Uga committed to championship results.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

May 24th, 2012
1:59 pm

Way over due on Landers firing. He missed his opportunity back when he had Teresa Edwards and didnt win it all. I hear his players are not real fond of him but that came from an ex-Tenn player, But not being able to get a single top player in the state makes me think there is something to it.

Bank Walker, Texas Ranger

May 24th, 2012
2:01 pm

@ Poor Clark, LOL, he should have got a job in the baseketball department or baseball.

David

May 24th, 2012
2:11 pm

I hate to tell people this: this is article about our new gynmastic coach not about University of Georgia other sports. I know people want new coaches in other sports, please send there comments to the AD and the president of UGA to their website.

GymDawgsFan

May 24th, 2012
2:20 pm

“GREAT coach with teriffic recruting skills that will NOT be matched anytime soon.” The presence of Yoc had something to do with it, ya think? In over his head and many saw this coming when his promotion was announced. Although not impossible, the GymDawgs need someone who’s done it and can related to them. A former mat mover didn’t cut it and it is obvious.

seabass

May 24th, 2012
2:38 pm

Andy Landers has needed to be replaced for some time now. For some reason they overlook his shortfalls. Perno had my support last year but lost it this year. Durante has my support as long as we regain SEC crown.

things must change now

May 24th, 2012
2:43 pm

Using the standards articulated by AD McGarity, that is to compete at a high level, win and/or be near the top of the SEC for TITLES, Andy Landers and David Perno have failed and failed in a talent laden state for their two sports.

Fire Perno AND Landers and do it now. Landers has not been a top 5 or top 10 coach since the early 90s and he orignally dates back to the late1970s and made a lot of positive UGA noise, many, many years ago but it has passed him by.

Perno just is too inconsistent and is an ok college coach but he IS NOT what AD McGarity has insisted on. Perno must go.

UGA, class of 71 & 73

bucket

May 24th, 2012
3:50 pm

Welcome to UGA Coach Durante!

YO

May 24th, 2012
4:30 pm

Very good hire for Georgia,welcome to the SEC. Florida,Georgia,Alabama, best programs in the country.

Clay

May 24th, 2012
8:26 pm

1953dawg, it might be reasonable to give McGarity a little time to make meaningful corrections. I am not a dawg fan but I believe he has been on board as AD only 18 months or so. Of course, if Adams decides to fire McGarity, he has 1953dawg waiting in the wings and he obviously is far superior to McGarity.

Hawaiifiveoh

May 24th, 2012
10:10 pm

Mcgarity to Durante about flying from Cal to Ga, “book it Dana”

DawginGulfShores

May 24th, 2012
11:46 pm

Welcome Danna! Get our Gym Dawgs to bring OUR Trophy Home! Quick!

Hmmmmmmm

May 25th, 2012
7:47 am

The continueing JOKE of a program that is UGA!

Snoop Dawg

May 25th, 2012
8:22 am

Now this woman sounds like a winner! Snoop Dawg may need to reassessment his low rating of McGarrity based on Richt’s contract “extension” and his hiring of Ms Durante. She has walked the talk, is attractive and articulate, and I have an instinct that she will return the famous Gym Dawgs to the gold.

Now let’s get to work in upgrading some of our other middling coaches and their complacent staffs.

Snoop Dawg

May 25th, 2012
8:30 am

1953Dawg, we’re from the same time! You nailed the current coaching situation at UGA. Don’t let the loser blind homers get you down. They are the reason we have floated to the bottom of the sea with the whale dung in just about every sport over the past few years…

Dawg Fud

May 25th, 2012
9:16 am

Welcome, Danna! GO DAWGS!

Dawg Fud

May 25th, 2012
9:32 am

You know what would make a huge difference in our basketball program? It is so simple it makes me want to puke.

Switch directions on baskets/half so that our opponent plays into the student section in the second half.

Amazes me no one has made this decision.

I think Mark Fox is a pretty good coach, actually. I have watched him intently for the past couple years. I honestly think he is as good as Anthony Grant.

That’s just my opinion. Yes, I wish he would win more but the AD has to give him everything he needs to compete. Not sure that is being done.

Red Dawn

May 25th, 2012
11:21 am

COACH PATTERSON FROM NC’S ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE!!
To the new gymdawgs head coach YOUR MY NEW B H!!!
RTR

EIGHT OUT OF EIGHT

May 29th, 2012
11:12 pm

And one and done at Cal. Don’t see the performance or the ethics in this decision.