Data Deep Dive: Most Impactful Transfers Since 2011

While recruiting gymnasts out of high school is certainly a key aspect of finding success as a college gymnastics team, transfers can also play a huge role. Transfers are currently a hot topic due to several high-profile names rumored to be in the transfer portal this offseason. Let’s take a look at past transfers and how impactful they were for their new teams.

Methodology

We compiled a list of transfers dating back to 2011 because that was as far back as we had reliable transfer records. Athletes on each team were assigned a ranking (1-6) on each event based on their final NQS (or RQS) each season. If they had the highest event NQS on their team they received 6 points; if they had the second highest event NQS on their team, they received 5 points; and so on. If an athlete did not compete enough to receive an NQS or had an event NQS that ranked outside of the top 6 for their team, the athlete received 0 points on that event. Data was adjusted for gymnasts who sat out their first transfer season due to transfer rules. We then determined first year impact by summing the points each athlete earned in their first season (or second season for those that were required to sit out). We also summed the amount of points each athlete earned throughout their career at their new university. We then divided this sum by the number of seasons the athlete was eligible to compete to calculate their total average impact per season.

Results

Immediate Impact

GymnastFormer TeamNew TeamFirst SeasonPoints
Addy De JesusNebraskaIowa State202124
Maddie HerrOhio StateSan Jose State201522
Kiera BrownGeorgiaPenn State201620
Sahara GipsonRutgersTemple201619
Taylor ZondervanMichiganWestern Michigan2012*18
Michaela BurtonArkansasPittsburgh202018
Bekah GherBoise StateSan Jose State201317
Rachel ZabawaNebraskaLindenwood201317
Julianna RolandBridgeportTemple202117
Kailey HansenWashingtonSacramento State201117
Nichelle ChristophersonMichiganArizona State201717
Taylor AllexUtahArizona State201516
Mackenzie DouglasSan Jose StateBYU201616
Catie ConradEastern MichiganPittsburgh201814
Katy KoopmanBridgeportLIU202113
Paige ZaziskiArkansasMichigan201712
Bethany LarimerKentuckyTexas Woman’s201112
Miya DotsonWestern MichiganPittsburgh201512
Jazmyn EstrellaUtah StateTemple201912
Kaitlyn HigginsMinnesotaNebraska202112
Jordan SalsbergSEMOArkansas201112
*Zondervan sat out the 2011 season due to transfer rules

The most obvious name here is Addy De Jesus, with a perfect 24 points in her first season at Iowa State. This means that she had the top NQS on every event compared to her teammates, and the Cyclones’ scoring potential would’ve been significantly lower without her presence on the team. It’s interesting to see that both Temple and Pittsburgh have three transfers on this list, meaning that they’ve utilized the transfer portal well over the last decade.

Total Career Impact

GymnastFormer TeamNew TeamSeasonsTotal Points
Rachel ZabawaNebraskaLindenwood2013-2016 (4)68
Kailey HansenWashingtonSacramento State2011-2014 (4)59
Bethany LarimerKentuckyTexas Woman’s2011-2014 (4)53
Sahara GipsonRutgersTemple2016-2018 (3)41
Sidney Sanabria-RoblesLSUPenn State2013-2015 (3)40
Lissette LaFexHamlineBridgeport2012-2014 (3)39
Maddie HerrOhio StateSan Jose State2015-2016 (2)38
Bekah GherBoise StateSan Jose State2013-2014 (2)36
Alisa SheremetaUICMissouri2020-2022 (3)*33
Mackenzie DouglasSan Jose StateBYU2016-2018 (3)31
Julianna RolandBridgeportTemple2021-2022 (2)*30
Paige ZaziskiArkansasMichigan2017-2018 (2)29
Taylor AllexUtahArizona State2015-2016 (2)28
Miya DotsonWestern MichiganPittsburgh2015-2016 (2)26
Addy De JesusNebraskaIowa State2021-2022 (2)24
Jazmyn EstrellaUtah StateTemple2019-2020 (2)24
Jordan SalsbergSEMOArkansas2011-2013 (3)24
Nicole WebbFloridaN.C. State2019-2022 (4)22
Tiara WrightWest VirginiaMaryland2019-2020 (2)22
Kaitlyn HigginsMinnesotaNebraska2021-2022 (2)21
Madison NettlesTexas Woman’sNorth Carolina2016-2018 (3)21
*Returning for 2023 season

Rachel Zabawa transferred to Lindenwood as part of its inaugural team after redshirting her freshman season at Nebraska, and her total here shows just how important she was to the Lions’ first four years as a program. She was a consistent competitor on three events, placing in the top two by NQS every year she was on the team. Two active gymnasts, Julianna Roland and Alisa Sheremeta, will have a chance to move further up this list when they return for their COVID years in 2023.

Average Impact Per Season

GymnastFormer TeamNew TeamSeasonsPoints Per Season
Maddie HerrOhio StateSan Jose State2015-2016 (2)19.00
Bekah GherBoise StateSan Jose State2013-2014 (2)18.00
Taylor ZondervanMichiganWestern Michigan2012 (1)*18.00
Michaela BurtonArkansasPittsburgh2020 (1)18.00
Rachel ZabawaNebraskaLindenwood2013-2016 (4)17.00
Julianna RolandBridgeportTemple2021-2022 (2)**15.00
Kailey HansenWashingtonSacramento State2011-2014 (4)14.75
Paige ZaziskiArkansasMichigan2017-2018 (2)14.50
Taylor AllexUtahArizona State2015-2016 (2)14.00
Catie ConradEastern MichiganPittsburgh2018 (1)14.00
Sahara GipsonRutgersTemple2016-2018 (3)13.67
Sidney Sanabria-RoblesLSUPenn State2013-2015 (3)13.33
Bethany LarimerKentuckyTexas Woman’s2011-2014 (4)13.25
Lissette LaFexHamlineBridgeport2012-2014 (3)13.00
Miya DotsonWestern MichiganPittsburgh2015-2016 (2)13.00
Addy De JesusNebraskaIowa State2021-2022 (2)12.00
Jazmyn EstrellaUtah StateTemple2019-2020 (2)12.00
Alisa SheremetaUICMissouri2020-2022 (3)**11.00
Tiara WrightWest VirginiaMaryland2019-2020 (2)11.00
Randi LauLSUPenn State2014 (1)11.00
*Zondervan sat out the 2011 season due to transfer rules; **Returning for 2023 season

When averaging the impact by number of seasons with the team, two San Jose State gymnasts come out on top in Maddie Herr and Bekah Gher. They both stayed with the Spartans for their final two seasons after transferring from Ohio State and Boise State, respectively.

Discussion

As always, there are some caveats with this analysis. First, season-ending injuries were not taken into account when averaging total impact by number of seasons; if injury-riddled seasons were removed from the calculation, several gymnasts would have placed higher on the third list. Second, fewer gymnasts achieved an NQS during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, and this was not accounted for in the numbers. Similarly, NQS was calculated differently in the 2021 season than the other years in this analysis, but since we only used the gymnast’s ranking among teammates’ NQS, the impact of this should be very low.

This analysis favors all-arounders and multi-events over specialists, so there is potential to do further analysis focused solely on specialists who had a large impact as transfers. Similarly, another study could be done to compare transfer performance on a gymnast’s original team to performance on the transfer team.

READ THIS NEXT: Data Deep Dive: SEC Scoring


Article by Jenna King, Mariah Dawson and Emma Hammerstrom

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4 comments

  1. You did not include Emilie Leblanc who transferred from Maryland to Utah for the 2020 season or Macey Roberts who transferred from Maryland for the 2017 season.

    1. Hi Kate, This article isn’t exhaustive, only including gymnasts that finished in the top of each category/criteria. As is stated toward the end of the article, the criteria used benefits all-around gymnasts. LeBlanc and Roberts were both specialists (that’s why you don’t see Florida’s Rachel Slocum’s name either). We may do another article in the future that deals more with specialists that transferred, but rest assured, we did not forget them.

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