Gannon Director of Athletics Mark Richard has announced the addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling to the University’s sports programs and named former University of Oregon All-American Chelsea White as the program’s first head coach.
Gannon is expected to begin its first season of competition during the spring of 2014 with an approximate roster of 36-40 student-athletes. The official competition season is February-April. The Lady Knights will become the 10th school to sponsor the emerging sport. They join three-time defending national champion University of Oregon, Alderson-Broaddus (W.Va.), Azusa Pacific (Calif.), Baylor (Texas), Fairmont State (W.Va.), Hawai’i Pacific, King (Tenn.), Quinnipiac (Mass.) and UMass.-Dartmouth.
“There has been an increased popularity and demand for the sport of Acrobatics and Tumbling during recent years,” said Richard. “This provides high school female student-athletes the opportunity to compete at the highest level as a Lady Knight. We are extremely excited to watch this sport grow and eventually become a fully-sanctioned NCAA varsity sport.”
Acrobatics and Tumbling is a derivative of the balance and grace of acrobatics, the power of gymnastics and the uniqueness of competitive cheer. Governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA), it is an all-female collegiate sport in compliance and held to the same standards as other sports. These standards include, but are not limited to, minimum grade point averages, academic eligibility requirements, governed athletic seasons and recruiting guidelines.
Typical meets include 2-4 teams consisting of 28-member gameday rosters and last approximately 90-120 minutes. Six events are contested: Compulsory, Acro, Pyramid, Toss, Tumbling and Team. Each squad competes and is evaluated in each event. Competition is in team rotation throughout and the order is predetermined by the head official prior to the meet. The highest combined score after all events wins the meet with the maximum score being 300 points.
“It’s an honor and a dream for me to be the head coach of the new Acrobatics and Tumbling Program at such a prestigious academic, athletic and faith-based institution as Gannon University,” said White. “I am thrilled to be part of the first 10 universities and colleges to add Acrobatics and Tumbling as a women’s sport in their athletics departments.
“Being part of creating more opportunities for women to compete on behalf of a university at the collegiate level is truly amazing. I am personally motivated by excellence and it is my goal to take our team to the top and compete for a national championship. My vision is to build a team of women who excel in their sport and ultimately, their lives. As a member of the three-time national champion Oregon Ducks Acrobatics and Tumbling Team, I know what it takes to be the best on a national level and I will bring that expertise to my role as a head coach.”
White comes to Gannon after helping the University of Oregon win back-to-back national championships in 2011 and 2012. The Ducks also recorded a third-place finish at the national championships during her sophomore campaign. She was a four-year letterwinner, concluding her collegiate career with NCATA All-America honors as a junior and senior. Her individual accolades include an individual tumbling national championship as a senior.
The Valencia, Calif., native started at a young age, training for gymnastics in China as a 10-year-old. White previously served as the head competitive gymnastic coach at Gymnastics Unlimited and was a level 10 gymnast at Le Club Gymnastics in Chatsworth California.
White served as a NCATA Student Representative during the last year, leading weekly discussions with student representatives from each NCATA institution. The topics included how to educate the public about Acrobatics and Tumbling, community service projects for NCATA student-athletes, marketing ideas and suggestions on how to help the sport continue to grow and evolve.
For scholarship opportunities or more information on the Gannon Acrobatics and Tumbling program, please contact head coach Chelsea White at (814) 871-7205 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more about all of Gannon’s sports teams, check out http://www.gannonsports.com.