Release courtesy of ESU Athletics
East Stroudsburg University President Marcia G. Welsh, Ph.D., announced Monday the addition of women's acrobatics and tumbling as the institution's 22nd intercollegiate sport. East Stroudsburg in an NCAA Division II institution that competes in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC).
Competition will begin in the 2019-20 academic year. ESU will be the 29th school across the three NCAA divisions and the NAIA to sponsor the potential emerging sport, with typical roster sizes between 30 and 40 student-athletes.
"The addition of women's acrobatics and tumbling is a tremendous moment for ESU," Dr. Welsh said. "Our institution previously sponsored both men's and women's gymnastics, including two national champion men's gymnastics teams, and we are proud to introduce a sport that includes many of those elements. Along with our women's wrestling program, announced in December, we are glad to be able to add competition options for ESU students at the varsity athletics level and be among the regional and national leaders in emerging sports opportunities."
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. Membership has grown from six to 29 schools since the first year of competition in 2010.
"It's another exciting day to be a Warrior as we announce the addition of another new women's sport," said Dr. Gary Gray, ESU Director of Athletics. "We're looking forward to becoming a leader in this part of the country in women's acrobatics and tumbling by getting in on the sport at this relatively early stage of its development within the NCAA. Hundreds of great prospects train in the Poconos each year at the International School of Gymnastics, operated by former Warriors' gymnastic coach, Bruno Klaus. We believe our ties with this world-renowned program will help our Acro program get off to a quick start."
Typical meets include 2-3 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, receiving a score based on starting difficulty values and execution.
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.
Acrobatics and tumbling is a spring sport, with competition lasting from February through April. Initial practices at ESU will take place in Zimbar Gymnasium, while meets will be held in Koehler Fieldhouse.
"We are incredibly excited to welcome East Stroudsburg University to the NCATA," said Dr. Renee Baumgartner, NCATA president. "Dr. Gray's diligence while exploring and considering this sport, as well as the opportunities that will be created from the addition encourages us as we continue our growth. It's an exciting time for the sport, and ESU's decision enhances that level of excitement."
Janell Cook, Executive Director of the NCATA, shared Dr. Baumgartner's excitment about the addition of East Stroudsburg to the NCATA.
"East Stroudsburg competes in the PSAC with Gannon, so we are certainly excited to have growth within an existing member school's conference and regionally for other members," said Cook. "The addition of varsity opportunities for young women to compete is our focus, and every new member announcement reinforces our mission."
ESU sponsored women's gymnastics from 1966 through 1990, and men's gymnastics from 1969 through 1990. The men's gymnastics program produced NCAA Division II national championship teams in 1983 and 1984, nine individuals who were national champions, and 32 All-America gymnasts. The women's program had one All-America, Beth Fraley on the balance beam, in 1978. Bruno Klaus, internationally-recognized gymnastics coach, was the Warriors' men's coach for 20 years, from 1970 through 1990.
"Today marks just the next step of many announcements we will have in the months and years ahead," Gray added. "As we finalize and begin to implement an Athletics Facilities Master Plan to renovate all of our Warriors' practice and competition venues to help support and provide a state-of-the-art experience for all of our student-athletes."
A national search for the first acrobatics and tumbling head coach at ESU will begin immediately.