National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Championships to be hosted at West Liberty for first time

West Liberty Acrobatics and Tumbling in action vs West Virginia Wesleyan.

The National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) recently announced that its 2023 National Championships will be hosted by West Liberty University at the Academic, Sports and Recreation Complex (ASRC). This marks a momentous occasion for the West Liberty Acrobatics and Tumbling program and the WLU athletics department as it is the first time that the university will play host to such an event set for April 27-29. This event is often held at the home of some of the biggest names in collegiate athletics, with Baylor University and the University of Oregon playing hosts for the past two years.

With the past number of championships taking place on the west coast, the NCATA was eager to bring the competition back to the east coast. With this in mind, West Liberty’s head Acrobatics and Tumbling coach Kelsey Kyle enquired about the possibility of the championships being held on the Hilltop, with West Liberty emerging as the leading prospective host for the 2023 championships.

Coach Kyle could hardly contain her excitement after being chosen to host the championships, admitting that she believes it will be extremely beneficial for her program and for the sport in the area. “I think it’s huge for our school and putting our name out there, for people to come see the school, for recruits to come and watch national championships take place here, it is massive,” Kyle said.

Having to follow some of the powerhouses of collegiate athletics as host of the championships is not an easy task, however Kyle and the WLU athletics department are committed to providing a high-quality occasion for all involved. “One of our goals with hosting the championships is to provide the same exceptional experience that we’ve seen at some much bigger schools in the past few years,” said Kyle. “Using our social media and the broadcasting facilities we have at West Liberty, I’m confident that we can make it happen and give that same experience.” The event is set to be broadcasted live on ESPN, with West Liberty’s ability to facilitate such a platform making them a standout host for the NCATA.

The sport is projected to pass the requirements to become an official NCAA sport in the next two years and should this happen, a vote will then take place at the NCAA National Convention to decide if Acrobatics and Tumbling should be declared as an official collegiate sport, with the earliest this would happen being the 2024/25 season. “I’m really hopeful that we will soon become an official NCAA collegiate sport,” declared Kyle. “It would be great for our program and it would give us the legitimacy that we’ve been working so hard for over 10 years for.”

The Hilltoppers will get their season underway with a trip to Texas to face off against Baylor University as they begin their quest to qualify for what will be a home national championship, which starts a lot of preparation during their fall season. “Our practices have been really good so far this fall. We are just getting started with our 20 hours a week of practice and now that we have worked hard on our basics, we can start to put together a full run through of Acro and Pyramid,” said Kyle. “We’re starting to see the events really come together which makes me really excited to get to February. We still have a long way to go but I think we’ll be ready.“

They finished last season with a 4-5 overall record and a 4-2 Mountain East Conference record in what is a conference packed with talented teams. The Hilltoppers took home three individual titles at the 2022 MEC Championships qualifying for 12 of 15 events.

The team is hopeful of improving on their overall record and challenging for more conference titles, however with the nature of the sport and the competitiveness of the MEC, this is a challenging feat. “Every year the scoring and points system gets a little bit harder, so because of this we have to try and push our difficulty each year,” Kyle admitted. “We have been working on some new combinations and trying to get creative with what we can do to challenge ourselves while staying consistent with our execution.”