Azusa Pacific University has been chosen to host the 2017 Acrobatics and Tumbling championship competition. In April, 13 teams from all over the country will have the opportunity to compete in hopes of being one of eight teams in the championship-bracket in Azusa.
In June, the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) asked APU’s athletics department to host the championship competition. Since then, Athletic Director Gary Pine and the rest of his team have been putting together a flow chart of the work that needs to be done. Currently, the preparation team meets once every three weeks, though Pine anticipates meeting more frequently in the spring to ensure that the competition is as organized as possible.
“Our goal is for every student-athlete to walk out of here saying, ‘This was a great championship experience,’ whether they win the championships or not,” Pine said.
Since APU hasn’t hosted the competition since 2014, Pine also noted the importance of making this year’s competition even better than the last.
“I think we did a good job of hosting the meet in ’14, and we’re looking to make this an even better experience for all involved this time around,” Pine said. “I want the coaches and athletes to walk out here saying, ‘Azusa Pacific did it right.'” Pine said.
In an effort to make this an exciting event for those in attendance, Jackson Stava, the director of operations for the NCATA and former APU staff member, suggested APU as the perfect place to have this event since it is in Los Angeles county.
“In all likelihood, we’ll have folks coming from Pacific Northwest, the East Coast, the South, Texas, Hawaii and California,” Stava said. “For those folks, there is an additional level of excitement when your national championship can be at a place in Los Angeles.”
As the Cougar acrobatics and tumbling team prepares for their season, they anticipate their seventh year of competing in the championships. Though the season begins in February, head coach Colleen Kausrud is looking forward to how this competition will pan out.
With a group of 24 athletes this year, Kausrud understands the value of strengthening her team both mentally and physically. Considering this team as one of her most talented thus far, she said she isn’t afraid of the outcome of the competition.
“All my teams have wanted the championship bad, but this team knows they have to work harder in the off season and work hard at knowing how to motivate their teammates to get to the championship, which is kind of a different flavor from what we’ve had before,” Kausrud said. “They know it takes a lot of hard work now [even] when we’re not in season.”
This year, APU will compete against top D-I programs from around the nation, hoping once again to place among the top teams.
In conjunction with the competition and to bring further recognition to acrobatics and tumbling, the NCATA, with the help of Stava, is currently working toward being recognized by the NCAA as an official collegiate sport.
“Our goal is to work ourselves out of a job so that the NCAA adopts this thing and it becomes an even more ingrained part of the collegiate athletic culture across the country,” Stava said. “At the end of the day, if this is an opportunity for more young women to have an opportunity to compete in college, to earn scholarship money to go to college and to have a great experience, it’s absolutely worth it.”
The acrobatics and tumbling championship competition will take place in the Felix Event Center from April 27- 29, 2017.