Acro and tumbling joins ECAC

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Gannon University’s Acrobatics and Tumbling team made a historic transition as a program last week.
John Rollins the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) interim commissioner and chief financial officer, announced the formation of the acrobatics league under the ECAC last week.
Gannon is one of four founding teams that is starting the league; the other three teams are Quinnipiac University, Alderson Broaddus University and King University.
Due to the amount of schools involved in the league, the champion of the league will be determined through head-to-head regular-season matchups. However, as the league expands over the years a postseason championship could become a reality.
Junior Kaitlyn Heath explained that the creation of the league will impact the team’s schedule and gives the team a new goal to strive for — to be the best in the ECAC.
“It also creates more opportunities for us to improve our rankings as we will have the opportunity to compete against some of the teams we have not in the past,” Heath said.
“In addition, it will raise awareness of the sport throughout the East Coast, getting us closer to becoming an NCAA sanctioned sport.”
In a release posted on Gannon’s athletic website Rollins mentioned that the benefits of joining the league go far beyond the mat for the athletes and their respective schools.
“The ECAC’s primary goal is to enhance the experience of the student-athletes within our membership, and we look forward to doing just that by providing these student-athletes with further opportunities to compete and earn recognition for their accomplishments,” Rollins said.
Renee Baumgartner, president of the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association, said in the press release how excited the organization is to join the first-ever conference for the sport.
“The exposure for student-athletes, as well as conference recognition and added level of competition for the member schools, serves to enhance the student-athlete experience for these young women,” Baumgartner said.
Lisa Goddard McGuirk, director of athletics at Gannon, said she is excited to see the team receive its well-deserved credit for its efforts on and off the mat.
“The ECAC Acrobatics and Tumbling league will provide additional opportunities for our student-athletes to compete and be recognized for all of their accomplishments both on the mat and in the classroom,” McGuirk said in the press release.
Heath said the mindset for the team is the same — to get to the national competition in California in April 2017 and the change in schedule will help them get there.
“As for our athletes as individuals this will give members of the team increased opportunity to be recognized as student athletes and reinforce their achievements as part of the ECAC as we are not eligible for any PSAC or NCAA awards,” Heath said.
The team continues to work hard each day as it gets closer to its opening meet, which is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4, at the Hammermill Center.
Last season the Knights made their second Elite Eight appearance in the program’s three years of existence. Along with that they have finished at .500 or better twice since their start.

BRANDON JACES
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