Portions of this story were provided through an official announcement from USA Gymnastics
AZUSA, Calif. -- The expansion of the sport of acrobatics and tumbling continued last week with the announcement that USA Gymnastics has expanded its Gymnastics for All (GfA) program to include team acrobatics and tumbling.
“This gives young athletes another avenue, and it gives us more athletes to look at during recruiting that will have experience in this discipline,” Azusa Pacific acrobatics and tumbling head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “It’s a huge plus for any athlete to have more avenues to go into what they want.”
Gymnastics for All, also known as group gymnastics, provides competitive and performance opportunities for all levels and ages that feature elements from each of the gymnastics disciplines – artistic, rhythmic, acrobatics, trampoline and tumbling. Team acrobatics and tumbling will serve as a new developmental pipeline for women's collegiate acrobatics and tumbling, which is a varsity team sport and administered by university athletic departments through the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA).
"Adding team acrobatics and tumbling within Gymnastics for All is going to be a win-win for our athletes," said Steve Penny, president of USA Gymnastics. "We are expanding the reach of Gymnastics for All's competitive side and providing young women with an additional opportunity to compete in a varsity sport for a college or university and possibly for an athletic scholarship. This is a natural next step in our working partnership with NCATA."
GfA features two primary divisions, GymFest and TeamGym. GymFest is the performance side of GfA and provides the official delegation of both men and women to the International Gymnastics Federation's World Gymnaestrada and World Gym for Life Challenge, both of which are quadrennial events. TeamGym, the competitive part of GfA, will be called Power TeamGym, beginning in June 2013, and is expanding to have Levels 1-10, along with updated rules. Team acrobatics and tumbling, which falls under Power TeamGym, will have junior and senior levels. All will be included at the 2014 U.S. Gymnastics for All National Championships in Orlando, Fla.
For team acrobatics and tumbling, the junior level is open to both boys and girls ages 12-18. Following a modified NCATA compulsory format, each team will have 15-25 athletes and perform compulsory skills in acro, pyramid, toss, and tumbling, along with an open team event. The senior division is for women 16 years of age and older and uses a slightly modified version of NCATA's rules and policies. Each team competes in six events: compulsory, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling and team. Rules and policies have been developed for team acrobatics and tumbling.
For Power TeamGym, athlete squads of six to 14 athletes perform a jump and a floor routine. Each squad may have either or both genders. The jump routine includes performances in tumbling, vaulting and mini-trampoline. The floor exercise routine is a timed, choreographed routine performed to music. When athletes progress to Level 8, they will have the opportunity to shift to team acrobatics and tumbling or remain in Power TeamGym. A complete set of updated rules and policies for Power TeamGym will be released in June.
"Having USA Gymnastics add team acrobatics and tumbling will be a great training ground for our collegiate programs," said NCATA executive director John Blake. "Through this developmental program and our partnership with USA Gymnastics, young women will have the opportunity to compete at the collegiate level and may receive a college scholarship."
NCATA organizes collegiate acrobatics and tumbling for women and is working to achieve NCAA emerging sport status. USA Gymnastics sanctions NCATA events, and its athletes and coaches are members of USA Gymnastics and adhere to the rules and policies of the organization. NCATA has also attracted athletes from USA Gymnastics' existing programs in individual tumbling and acrobatic gymnastics.
NCATA's all-female acrobatics and tumbling teams are recognized and treated as fully sponsored varsity sports at their respective institutions and comply with NCAA rules and regulations. The teams range in size, providing opportunities for up to 40 student-athletes to compete. Each acrobatics and tumbling team represents its educational institution six to eight times each season in a head-to-head competitive format against other collegiate acrobatics and tumbling teams, culminating in a national championship tournament.
An NCATA meet includes six rounds – compulsory, stunt, pyramid, toss, tumbling and a team routine. The scoring system includes pre-determined start difficulty values for each skill in each round for consistent scoring by officials. NCATA's unique meet format with standardized scoring and officiating provides clear separation from other related sports or activities.
In 2013-14, the NCATA will add five new programs to its existing five programs, bringing total NCATA membership to 10 schools for the upcoming season.
“As one of the founding members of the NCATA, these added opportunities should make Azusa Pacific one of the first schools people will look at,” Kausrud said. “This new affiliation under USA Gymnastics, along with the NCATA's growth from five to 10 members this coming year, will all help with the continued increase in awareness of our sport.”