BRISTOL, Tenn. – It is with great pleasure and excitement that King College and Tornado Athletics proudly announces the addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling to its core of athletic varsity programs. Acrobatics and Tumbling will serve as King’s 25th varsity program and begin competing at the start of the 2013-14 academic year. A search for the program’s first head coach will begin immediately.
The addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling was announced on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 27 and will immediately begin making an impact on the King athletic community and collegiate athletics, nationally.
David Hicks, athletic director of King College said, “King has always been a leader and innovator in education and athletics. A new, exciting, and growing sport such as Acrobatics and Tumbling continues in that tradition.”
“The addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling marks a tremendous time for King’s Athletic Program,” said Dr. Jordan, president of King College. “We are delighted to bring such a rapidly growing sport to King and provide additional opportunities to female student-athletes to attend a quality institution and compete in a varsity sport at the collegiate level.”
King will serve as the eighth institution in the United States to sponsor competitive Acrobatics and Tumbling joining Fairmont State University (WV), the University of Oregon (OR), Baylor University (TX), Quinnipiac University (CT), the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (MA), Alderson-Broaddus College (WV), and Azusa Pacific University (CA). Alderson-Broaddus was the most recent institution to add Acrobatics and Tumbling to its athletic program and will also begin competing in 2013-14.
Acrobatics and Tumbling has been one of the fastest developing collegiate sports since the University of Oregon and University of Maryland began the sport’s movement in 2007. It is now on the fast track to becoming what the NCAA identifies as an “emerging sport”.
With the interest of Acrobatics and Tumbling growing among colleges and universities across the nation in large numbers, head coach of Acrobatics and Tumbling at the University of Oregon Felicia Mulkey believes it is just a matter of time before the NCAA officially designates it as a competitive, collegiate program, and perhaps even more.
“There is a very long line of schools that want to or are interested in starting Acro,” said Mulkey. “Once emerging sport status is granted, I think it will be the fastest growing sport in NCAA history.”
Mulkey, who is the head coach of the two-time National Champion Oregon Ducks, also serves as the chair of the expansion committee for the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA), the governing body of the sport. She has been integral in educating King and many other schools about the sport, as well as getting those schools to commit to sponsor it.
Acrobatics and Tumbling is derived from a combination of all seven disciplines of gymnastics. Those disciplines include men’s and women’s artistic, rhythmic, aerobic, acro, trampoline and tumbling, and group gymnastics. The sport does not focus on any one discipline but instead focuses on a skill set that encompasses traits from all areas to create a single, comprehensive team of athletes that contribute to success.
“In Acro there is no ideal height or size of a student-athlete,” said Mulkey. “The only requirement is possessing pure athletic ability, so the sport is open to a larger pool of athletes.”
A typical Acrobatics and Tumbling meet hosts between two and four teams with the average time ranging from one-and-one-half to two hours per event. Each team will engage in six events: compulsory, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling, and team. Between the third and fourth events, teams will have one 15-minute halftime intermission. Up to 28 active athletes may comprise each competing team, though roster sizes can range between 30 and 45 athletes. Points are awarded to each team following each heat or event with a maximum achievable score of 300 points. Points are accumulated via a running total through the sixth event with judging based on the USA Gymnastics model. The team possessing the highest combined score is declared the winner.
Acrobatics and Tumbling has been on King’s radar since winter 2012. Upon learning about the opportunity and the sport, administration quickly began researching the possibility of bringing it to the College and how it will benefit all parties involved. The decision to add Acrobatics and Tumbling as King’s 25th varsity athletic team was formally made in earlier this month.
“Acro is very interesting because it was unique, yet growing and represents a very large population of students at the high school level with limited opportunities to compete in college,” said Hicks. “Over the course of the spring, we had numerous discussions with officials from the NCATA, as well as Felecia Mulkey, the Head Coach at the University of Oregon. After those discussions, we decided to proceed with adding it to our athletic program.”
The announcement to add Acrobatics and Tumbling comes at a very momentous time in collegiate athletics. Many entities, including the NCAA, have been celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX this year. The passage of Title IX marked an incredibly significant period in the civil rights movement that made significant strides to provide gender equity in educational venues.
“We have always been committed to providing opportunities to all students-athletes, but Acrobatics and Tumbling is another great stage and opportunity to showcase female athletes, their talents and abilities on a national level,” said head athletic trainer and senior woman administrator, Shelia Crockett. “We are very proud to be able to share in the excitement of announcing this new opportunity while celebrating what Title IX has achieved over the last 40 years.”
Hicks formally made the announcement in the M. Jeffrey Byrd Board Room inside the Student Center Complex in front of a full room of King coaches, student-athletes, faculty, staff and members of the board of trustees. The event was also video streamed live and displayed on the Tornado Athletics web page, www.KingTornado.com.
The addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling marks the first sport addition since 2009 when King added women’s wrestling and cycling to its athletic program. Since the expansion to 24 teams, King also became a member of NCAA Division II and Conference Carolinas. From the time when the Tornado earned eligibility to compete in postseason championships in 2010 to present, King has crowned three national champions, has hosted a Conference Carolinas regular season and conference tournament champion team, multiple academic and athletic All-Americans, and sported both a second and fifth place finish at national competition among its programs.
“Tornado Athletics have enjoyed great success in the last five years,” said Dr. Jordan. “We have student-athletes who are competing on conference, regional, national, and international levels. We anticipate this new offering of Acrobatics and Tumbling to produce impressive results.”
The National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) is the governing body for Acrobatics and Tumbling. The NCATA exists to provide leadership, governance, and education for the sport of Acrobatics and Tumbling at the collegiate level based on fair and safe athletic competition while continuing to expand opportunities for female athletes at the collegiate level. All NCATA events are sanctioned through USA Gymnastics. For more information, visit www.theNCATA.org.