Arizona Christian University became the 18th member of the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association (NCATA) adding the sport and hiring Brandy Duren as the first head coach in program history, announced by NCATA Dr. Renee Baumgartner and ACU Athletic Director Jeff Rutter on Monday, Mar. 20, 2017.

The first program from Arizona to add acrobatics and tumbling, Arizona Christian becomes the first school to announce the sport in 2017, and the fifth to add the sport over the last 13 months. With the addition of ACU, the NCATA has representation in 13 states, breaking into the southwest region of the continental United States with the addition of the Firestorm.

“Expansion in Arizona is really wonderful since we’ve recently experienced such a burst of expansion in the east,” commented Baumgartner. “It’s a great opportunity for young women in the region and also provides another competition opportunity for our members in the west.”

Acrobatics & Tumbling becomes the 18th sport offered by Arizona Christian, a member of the Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Duren, a 2015 University of Oregon graduate, joins the Firestorm staff after a stellar collegiate career, which included three national championships during her time in Eugene. Duren graduated from Oregon with a Bachelor’s degree in sociology.

“We are excited to announce the addition of Acrobatics and Tumbling at Arizona Christian University,” commented Rutter. “It’s a fast growing sport and one that our community is really going to enjoy. We are also excited to add yet another opportunity for young women to compete at the collegiate level against great competition.”

“I am blessed and excited to take on the head coaching position at Arizona Christian University,” added Duren. “My passion is to develop strong, faith-centered female athletes, to be competitive, and excel in the field of acrobatics and tumbling. I am committed to building a successful team, filled with strong female athletes, both on and off the mat. I look forward to pioneering this sport at ACU and continuing to build the sport of acrobatics and tumbling, and provide more opportunities for female athletes.”

ACU joins a west coast contingent of the NCATA that is riddled with annual national title contenders. The University of Oregon enters the final month of the regular season unbeaten, hoping to win its fifth national title this April. Azusa Pacific and Hawaii Pacific continue to be a constant in the NCATA tournament, with both teams capturing individual event national championships in 2016.

“The NCATA welcomes Arizona Christian University to our Acrobatics and Tumbling family, added Cook. “As our first member school in Arizona, we are excited to expand opportunities for young women in the state and southwest region to compete at the varsity level.”

Coach Duren and the Firestorm will begin to compete in 2018. Follow the NCATA on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for all information regarding one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation.