GAFFNEY, S.C. – Limestone College Athletics Department and Vice President of Intercollegiate Athletics Mike Cerino and National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association President Dr. Renee Baumgartner have announced the addition of acrobatics & tumbling as the 26th sponsored varsity sport with competition set to begin during the 2019 season.
A national search for the program's first head coach is currently underway with the recruitment of student-athletes to begin shortly thereafter. Limestone will be just the 13th Division II program in the nation to add acrobatics & tumbling (A&T), and the 21st college or university across all three NCAA Divisions and the NAIA to sponsor the sport. The Saints will be the third member of Conference Carolinas to sponsor A&T, joining King and Converse.
"We are happy to have Limestone College add Acrobatics & Tumbling on their campus," commented Dr. Baumgartner. "The growth in Conference Carolinas is meaningful and as a highly respected program, Limestone is a dynamic addition to the NCATA membership as we move toward our goals."
Limestone becomes the fourth institution to add acrobatics and tumbling in 2017, following Arizona Christian University (NAIA), Urbana University (DII) and East Texas Baptist University (DIII). The NCATA has seen a drastic influx of new programs adding the sport, blossoming from 13 members in January of 2016 to 21 with the Saints' Thursday announcement.
"Limestone is excited about adding acrobatics & tumbling," said Colleen Cannon, Limestone's Senior Woman Administrator and Assistant Director of Compliance. "Our department takes pride in producing top student-athletes and championship teams. With the addition of another women's sport, we look forward to continuing that success while educating, developing, and graduating these young ladies."
A discipline of USA Gymnastics, acrobatics and tumbling is the evolution of different forms of gymnastics and involves tumbling, tosses, and acrobatic lifts and pyramids. Teams participate in head-to-head competition and are scored in six events: Compulsory, Acro, Pyramid, Toss, Tumbling, and Team.
The National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA), which serves as the national governing body, is working with the NCAA staff and the NCAA Committee on Women's Athletics to have A&T sanctioned as an emerging sport. All events are currently sanctioned through USA Gymnastics.
A total of 311 student-athletes competed in acrobatics & tumbling at the collegiate varsity level during the 2017 season for an average squad size of 26. Limestone will have ample recruiting opportunities as over nine million young women participate in the skill sets of acrobatics & tumbling through participation in gymnastics and cheerleading.
Current membership of NCATA includes Baylor, Oregon, and Quinnipiac at the Division I level; Alderson-Broaddus, Azusa Pacific, Converse, Davis & Elkins, Fairmont State, Gannon, Glenville State, Hawaii-Pacific, King (Tenn.), Urbana, West Liberty, and West Virginia Wesleyan in Division II; Adrian, Concordia (Wisc.), and East Texas Baptist in Division III; and, Arizona Christian and Georgetown (Ky.) in the NAIA.
"Limestone College strengthens a quickly developing region in the southeast, and adds another strong member in Conference Carolinas," added Cook. "We are fortunate to work with them at this critical time in the progress of the sport."
The competition season takes place between February and April with each team allowed to compete in a minimum of six contests and a maximum of 14. The NCATA National Championships are held annually in April on an NCATA member campus with event and team championships.
Once a head coach has been named, and a team put together, the Saints will begin practicing with the plan of competing in the program's first event in February of 2019.