GREENWOOD, S.C. – The Lander University Department of Athletics announced the addition of Acrobatics & Tumbling last week, becoming the 30th Member of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) to join the NCATA. Lander is a Division II institution in Greenwood, S.C.
Lander Director of Athletics, Brian Reese, also announced that Glenville State’s Sarah DiSpaltro has been named the Bearcats’ first head coach.
“We are thrilled to bring a rapidly growing sport like acrobatics and tumbling to Lander,” said Reese. “The hiring of Sarah DiSpaltro, who has excelled as a competitor and as a coach, will give our team instant credibility.
“Also, with the number of NCAA Division II schools within our region offering this sport, now is a great time for Lander to make this addition to our department,” Reese added.
Acrobatics & Tumbling, a discipline of USA Gymnastics, is the evolution of different forms of gymnastics and involves tumbling, tosses, and acrobatic lifts and pyramids. Teams participate in head-to-head competition and are scored in six events, including Compulsory, Acro, Pyramid, Toss, Tumbling, and Team Event.
The sport is governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA). Competition will take place between February and April, with each team allowed to compete in a minimum of six contests and a maximum of 14. The NCATA National Championships are held annually in April on an NCATA member campus with individual event and team championships.
“We welcome Lander University to the NCATA family,” said Dr. Renee Baumgartner, President of the NCATA. “This is an exciting time for Acrobatics & Tumbling, and new members demonstrate the continued growth of the sport. Lander is in a region which has seen a high rate of growth in the past two years, and will be a great addition to the Division II competition in the area.”
Lander will become the 32nd member of the NCATA. Current Division II participants in the Southeast include Belmont Abbey, Chowan, Coker, Converse, Erskine, King, and Limestone.
“Lander University is well positioned in a region that in among the top three for potential student-athletes participating in the skill set of Acrobatics & Tumbling, said Executive Director Janell Cook. “We’re optimistic for further growth as we continue to add members from new conferences in the southeast, and most importantly, in creating new opportunities for young women to compete.”
DiSpaltro comes to Lander from San Diego, Calif., where she served as the gymnastics and cheerleading coach for North County Gymnastics. DiSpaltro began her collegiate career at Azusa Pacific before competing in her final three seasons at Glenville State. In 2018, she helped lead the Pioneers to their first Open Pyramid national championship.
A 2019 graduate with bachelor’s degrees in business management and athletic conditioning & coaching, DiSpaltro was a first-team All-Mountain East Conference selection during her senior season.
“I am excited to create a new program and bring history to Lander,” said DiSpaltro. “I am grateful for the opportunity to create well-rounded women, as well as incredible athletes, and impact their lives in a positive way. Coaching has always been in my life and it has always been my dream to develop athletes to be the best they can be.”
Lander will participate in a limited competition schedule in 2020-21, with a full schedule beginning in 2021-22.