For Josie Angeny and Sandra Elsadek, watching the rebuilding of Georgia gymnastics play out on social media brought laughter. “No one knew what was going on,” Angeny recalled. “Everyone was going crazy.”
With 11 newcomers, Georgia improved its ranking from a season ago, ending the year at No. 20 after finishing 30th previously. Angeny, Elsadek, and Vanessa Deniz were three transfers into the GymDogs’ program and added depth, stability, and leadership, along with consistent scores across all four events.
A change of heart and two entrances to the transfer portal led Josie Angeny to choose to take her fifth year at Georgia after almost committing to stay at Kentucky. After a second senior indicated she would like to come back to the Wildcats, Angeny decided she needed to look elsewhere for an opportunity. “I love [Kentucky], but I’ve been here four years, I was committed four years before that, and I had the opportunity to go to another school, so why wouldn’t I take it?”
After entering the transfer portal, Angeny recalled that she initially wasn’t sure she was going to get offers from anywhere, but after a big school emailed her within hours of her entrance, she breathed a sigh of relief. “That was confirmation [that] people are interested. They gave me some self-worth that they see my worth and want to wow me with their school,” she stated.
For Elsadek, her decision to take a fifth year elsewhere came down to a lack of scholarships available at Ball State. “My experience at Ball State was great, but I’m not going to pay out-of-state [tuition] when I could probably find money elsewhere,” she recalled. Entering the transfer portal was a longer process than she initially expected, as she was convinced to try to take out loans or remain as a walk-on, but Elsadek was determined to see what else was out there through the transfer portal. Both athletes lost access to training facilities upon their entrance into the transfer portal but continued to train at home gyms while preparing to transfer.
When scheduling official visits, Angeny committed to Georgia before going to her visit while Elsadek took all five of hers, stating that each one reaffirmed her self-worth. “In that moment, I didn’t know if I would ever find anything… When that was happening, they just made you feel like you’re on top of the world,” she added, though she almost lost her eligibility altogether by accidentally attempting to schedule a sixth official visit with N.C. State. “I didn’t know the rules!” Elsadek exclaimed. “If it wasn’t for Kim [Landrus] telling me, you know you can only take five, I would’ve made myself ineligible.”
After making the decision to transfer to Georgia, Angeny sat back to watch everything unfold on social media. One by one, each transfer announced their commitment. First Angeny, then Elsadek, and finally Deniz announced her transfer from Oklahoma. Not long after their announcements, freshman standout JaFree Scott announced her switch in commitment to Georgia, adding more chaos. “Everyone was like, what is going on at Georgia?” Angeny recalled. The addition of assistant coach Ryan Roberts, interim assistant Sam Welbourn, and volunteer assistant and Kentucky alumna Mollie Korth concluded Georgia’s rebuilding, something that Angeny stated was beneficial.
As Angeny and Elsadek wrap their gymnastics careers, both are looking to the future with big aspirations. Angeny plans to step into a coaching career in the NCAA and has had contact with teams looking for assistant coaches for next season. She also plans to pursue a club coaching career in whatever city she ends up in to work her way up the ladder.
As for Elsadek, she will be staying at Georgia another year to get a Master’s degree in financial planning. Though she has used all of her NCAA eligibility, she is still in the gym training because according to her, she’s not done yet. “There’s some plans in the works,” she stated. While it’ll be a little longer before she can publicly announce those plans, Elsadek is encouraging others to keep guessing what is ahead.
Despite the end of their collegiate careers, both athletes are thankful for the journey that led them to Athens. “We wouldn’t be done [if we had the choice]. We would do this until we were 90.”
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Article by Savanna Whitten
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