Forming a hybrid sport roster: A look inside D&E Acrobatics and Tumbling recruiting


ELKINS, W.Va. – If you think you know the “ins” and “outs” of collegiate acrobatics and tumbling programs, you probably are confusing it with cheerleading or gymnastics.

Acrobatics and Tumbling is basically a hybrid athletic program combining the two, but that still doesn’t describe the sport in its entirety.

So, with a sport so confusing to the average sports fan, how do college coaches get athletes to buy into their programs?

Davis and Elkins Acro and Tumbling head coach Shelby Armstrong seems to have it all figured out.

Armstrong breaks down the skills needed in each event and recruits according to who will execute those skills.

“My gymnasts, I’m going to recruit them because they have really good tumbling, like you’ve seen gymnasts tumble, and we have tumbling events for our meets. For cheerleaders, we’re looking for tumbling but we’re really looking for stunting. So, we’re looking for girls who are going to be on top of the pyramids. We do two and a half high pyramids so we’re looking for a bunch of mid-level girls and then like big bases,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong, who has a competitive cheerleading background, took her talents to one of the top acro and tumbling programs in the country, The University of Oregon. She spent four years with the Ducks and has experience in almost every position the acro and tumbling team has to offer.

While recruiting athletes for her squad, Armstrong looks all over. From gymnastics meets, to high school cheerleading and competitive cheer competitions, she is looking for girls who will fit her programs needs.

“There’s really not just one sport we’re looking at and that’s the best part about it is so many different athletes can come do this new opportunity,” Armstrong said.

Armstrong will travel all over the country recruiting athletes. She usually sets up a table at competitions or meets where she will talk to athletes about the sport and what D&E has to offer.

“Gymnasts are scared it’s cheerleading. Cheerleaders are scared it’s gymnastics. So we have to put them in and teach them what those skills are to say hey, you can do this, anybody can do this. You just have to be willing to get out of your comfort zone a little bit,” Armstrong said.

For more information about the Davis and Elkins Acrobatics And Tumbling program visit their website.

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