Successful first year for Wesleyan’s Acrobatics & Tumbling program

BUCKHANNON — West Virginia Wesleyan College’s acrobatics and tumbling program ended their first-ever season with a winning record, and head coach Courtney Pate has been delighted with how events have turned out for her team.

In 2016, West Virginia Wesleyan College announced that they would be introducing a new acrobatics and tumbling program to their long list of collegiate sports here in Buckhannon. Pate was hired to craft a young team to compete against other schools in competitive meets across the region.

Over the winter and springs months of 2018, the acrobatics and tumbling team competed in seven meets against teams ranging from Alderson-Broaddus to Fairmont State, whose program is in its eighth year.

So what is acrobatics and tumbling all about?

“We pull from the different disciplines of gymnastics,” Pate said. “This sport has created opportunities for women who have either competed in competitive gymnastics, acrobatic gymnastics, power tumbling and competitive cheerleading.”

Pate said the sport offers a lot for spectators, especially those who are new to acrobatics and tumbling.

“The cool thing about acro is that it is so new that people are curious about it and the skill set that the athletes compete with is pretty impressive,” Pate said. “We have people flipping and twisting upside down holding each other up with just their body strength, so I think that is really exciting for people who don’t usually get to see people go upside down on a daily basis.”

A new sport also means new students, and Pate said acrobatics and tumbling opens up opportunities to a different group of athletes.

“Before this sport was created, if you look at the collegiate level, the scholarship opportunities given to gymnasts was very rare,” Pate said. “With our sport we can allow a wider roster up to 30 to 40 people, and up to 28 people can compete on any given day, which means we can provide those scholarship opportunities for various different athletes and it opens up the door for the athletes who might have not been able to pursue athletics in college.”

Pate’s team pulled off a satisfactory first season, going 4-3 and performing competitively in all three loss.

“It was exciting because we got to create the platform,” Pate said. “We had nowhere to go but up, and our girls basically exceeded so much more than I could have asked of them this year.”

There is no limit to where the team can go from here. With a strong foundation, Pate aims to continue building throughout the next couple of years to make Wesleyan’s program a winning one for many years to come.

With solid crowds attending all three of Wesleyan’s home meets, the sport is continuing to get the exposure it needs at the collegiate level and Pate believes this is only the beginning for Acrobatics & Tumbling around the area. Recently Urbana added an Acrobatics & Tumbling team, which will bring the total up to five Mountain East Conference Acrobatics & Tumbling squads.

As the sports grows, Pate is able to recruit and pull girls from across the nation.

“We do have several girls from West Virginia as well as incoming freshman who will also be from West Virginia,” Pate said. “We also have kids from Texas, California, North Carolina and Georgia this next year, so it’s all across the board. Next year, we will have a bigger roster and we will continue to grow.”

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