When Sami Durante committed to Georgia gymnastics in eighth grade, she wasn't solely drawn by UGA's 10 national championships. Admittedly, her mother and then-head coach Danna played a big role in recruiting her.
In Sami's senior year of high school, Danna was dismissed from her position at Georgia.Sami's scholarship offer was later revoked, and LSU pounced on the opportunity to recruit her.
"I think we both were sad, certainly very sad," Danna said. "But [we felt] like it was a great opportunity for her to go to a place where she could make a name for herself and grow and spread her wings in an entirely new environment that didn't revolve around her mother."
Ten years later, Sami is now getting the chance to work with her mother — albeit this time in a different role.
Sami was hired over the summer to a new assistant coach position for the Tar Heels, where she now works under Danna, who has led UNC's program since 2021. In her new role, Sami assumes all director of operations responsibilities for the team — organizing travel, writing newsletters and coordinating events.Sami's hire was made possible thanks to the NCAA’s recent decision that allowed four full-time coaches per collegiate gymnastics team.
“I’m thankful that it worked out, thankful that she is on staff, and everything that she brings from her experience is incredibly valuable, not only to this team, but even as the youngest member of this staff,” Danna said.
Sami competed for the Tigers for five years, earning All-American honors on bars twice. After graduating from LSU in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in sports administration, she stayed in Baton Rouge as a graduate assistant coach, a role in which she assisted in day-to-day operations while earning a master’s degree in sports management.