INDIANAPOLIS, Aug. 23, 2015 — Eleven U.S. trampoline and tumbling athletes were awarded USA Gymnastics Trampoline and Tumbling Scholarships at the conclusion of the 2015 USA Gymnastics Championships, held recently in Greensboro, N.C. The USA Gymnastics Scholarship Fund was established more than 10 years ago to give college-age athletes every opportunity to meet the demands of higher education while still training and competing in trampoline and tumbling.


(L-R) Kelly Keitel, Stewart Pritchard, Jackson Tyson, Colin Duda, Dr. George Drew, Spencer Reed, Deana Parris, Harley Merritt
Not pictured – Dakota Earnest, Shaylee Dunavin and Aliaksei Shostak
Photo by Team Photo

This year’s scholarship recipients are as follows.

  • Jeff T. Hennessey Scholarship: Stewart Pritchard, Greensboro, N.C./ Ultimate Air T&T, $6,000
  • Tyson Smith Scholarship: Kelly Keitel, Effingham, Ill./Top Star Trampoline and Tumbling, and Harley Merritt, Auburndale, Fla./Elite World Gymnastics, $3,000 each
  • Jordan Bonne Memorial Scholarship: Dakota Earnest, Lafayette, La./Trampoline and Tumbling Express, and Deana Parris, Burtonsville, Md./Fairland Gymnastics, $3,000 each
  • George Nissen Memorial Scholarship: Shaylee Dunavin and Aliaksei Shostak, both of Lafayette, La./Trampoline and Tumbling Express, $3,000 each
  • Additional scholarship recipients of $1,000 each
    • Colin Duda, Atlantic Highlands, N.J./Elite Trampoline Academy
    • Spencer Reed, Tulsa, Okla./Oklahoma Extreme Tumbling
    • Jackson Tyson, Greensboro, N.C./Flip Force Gymnastics
    • Emilie Thompson, Warrensburg, Mo./ Kansas City Trampoline Club

Below is a description of each scholarship.

  • Jeff T. Hennessey Scholarship: established to afford deserving athletes the opportunity to pursue academic and athletic excellence. This scholarship honoring Coach Hennessey’s career and commitment to the sport of trampoline and tumbling is awarded yearly to the qualified applicant who best exhibits the attributes of athletic achievement, sportsmanship and scholarship.

  • Tyson Smith Scholarship: presented to the USA Gymnastics trampoline and tumbling athlete who has exhibited the talent, diversity and sportsmanship that defined Tyson Smith’s life. Smith, the son of Carole and Craig Smith and brother of Brooke, was an outstanding all-around athlete who competed in trampoline and tumbling; was a member of the U.S. National Team; and represented Naples (Fla.) Progressive Gymnastics. He was killed in a tragic traffic accident in February 2003. His many athletic accomplishments included seven national titles, three international titles, a three-time AAU All-American, and becoming the first athlete form Florida to represent the USA in international competition.

  • Jordan Bonne Memorial Scholarship: awarded to an athlete whose career and performance best exhibit Jordan Bonne’s love for trampoline and his sense of fairness, academic excellence and spiritual faith. The scholarship is dedicated to the memory of Bonne, a USA Gymnastics trampoline athlete. Bonne was an exceptional young man whose family and teammates were privileged to know his spirit, enthusiasm, sportsmanship and faith. The entire community felt the loss of Bonne, but his young life served as an inspiration to his family, team and church.

  • George Nissen Memorial Scholarship: presented to a trampoline competitor who continues to strive to reach new heights in the sport while pursuing academic excellence and inspiring others. The scholarship is dedicated in memory of trampoline inventor George Nissen, whose contributions touch every athlete who has competed in gymnastics. Nissen was a true inspiration to those around him and dedicated his life to the advancement of the sport of trampoline, as well as the human spirit.

A five-member scholarship committee evaluates the applications and presents the awards. The annual scholarships are granted to trampoline and tumbling athletes based on many factors, including GPA, educational goals, previous competitive performance, financial need, athletic potential, leadership, reference letters, an essay, and any specific characteristics identified by the scholarship.