NCATA Championships allow people to see ‘God First’

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Senior flyer Jessica Laughton and the Cougars look to impress as they become the first Division II team to host nationals. Photo credit: Kimberly Smith

As the Azusa Pacific acrobatics and tumbling team gears up for the NCATA Championship starting Thursday, April 24, the APU athletics office has also been preparing: For the first time, it plays host to nine different schools, in this, the fourth annual competition, held at the Felix Event Center.

Assistant Athletics Directors Jackson Stava and Aaron Bartholomew handled most of the logistics in planning the competition, from scheduling locker room and mat times to figuring out teams’ flight schedules and coordinating with Information and Media Technology.

Stava is the director of operations for the NCATA and handles administrative duties for the organization, such as scoring and announcing at events.

According to Stava, the venue rotates through the schools based on which has the appropriate facilities and budget to host the event. APU is the first-ever Division II school to host the NCATA Championships.

“I believe our home meets are run the best and have the most excitement and support by fans in the NCATA,” acrobatics and tumbling head coach Colleen Kausrud said. “We accomplish this without all the expensive video scoreboards and arenas as the D-I schools have and we still put on the best meets.”

With nine teams en route to Azusa, this is the largest championship to take place. Stava is expecting more than 300 competitors and coaches and thousands of fans to flood the arena.

Kausrud is looking forward to the home advantage due to the response in the crowd.

“[The fans] will generate the excitement and will help the athletes feel support, which is so important to all of us,” Kausrud said.

Kausrud believes the university will “gain respect and awareness” from hosting the competition.

“I have heard from some of the other coaches in the NCATA that our ‘God First’ painted on the wall in the event center is somewhat intimidating,” Kausrud said. “They have said they feel like they should watch what they say. I think that is awesome.”

Stava is expecting the competition will draw a lot of attention from media and other schools simply due to APU’s location near Los Angeles. He is looking forward to the attention the “God First” sign will get as well.

“I think it’s a great chance for us to impact people with the message of ‘God First’ and what APU is all about with them being here. I think the way we run an event, the way we interact with fans and other schools and other athletes can absolutely have an impact,” Stava said.

The competition setup even has to work around chapel Friday morning, tearing down Thursday night after the first few events and setting back up after service the next day.

Thursday night, the event finals are unique among elements of the competition. The top four groups or individual competitors (based on the event and heat), will compete head-to-head for individual event championship titles, rather than the whole competition nod.

“You really get to see the best of the best,” Stava said.

The event will be streamed live online with multiple camera shots and replay. APU students can enter the competition during the weekend for free with a school ID. Passes for the three-day competition are available online to all other spectators.

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