Talladega College Vice President and Athletic Director Michael Grant announced plans to launch a women’s acrobatics and tumbling program. Recruitment is now underway and competition begins in the Spring of 2024.

“Acrobatics and tumbling is an emerging sport that will expand opportunities for female athletes to compete. The program will help increase enrollment and retention while also creating more sponsorship options,” said Grant. “We are excited about the growth Talladega College will experience as we launch our newest sports program and begin the process of transitioning to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).”

Competitive Cheer and Dance Coach Shirlynn Hight has been named the inaugural head coach, and plans are underway to recruit 20 or more athletes. Coach Hight has over 20 years of coaching experience and is the recipient of numerous awards, including National Cheersport Champion, Super National Jammiest Cheer Champion, Cheer Power National Champion, and Worldwide Spirit Association (WSA) National Beach Champion. She holds a Bachelor of Sports Management from the University of West Georgia.

“Talladega College recently made history by becoming one of only two Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to offer a women’s gymnastics program. The addition of acrobatics and tumbling, a relatively new sport on college campuses, further distinguishes our institution,” said President Gregory J. Vincent. “Through our athletic programs, we are able to broaden access to an outstanding, student-centered Talladega College education.”

National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) Executive Director Janell Cook stated, “We are thrilled to welcome Talladega College to the NCATA. We look forward to helping Talladega implement its acrobatics and tumbling program as the college continues the application process for NCAA DII membership. As an HBCU and as the second recent addition in the state of Alabama, Talladega is poised to offer gymnasts and cheerleaders in the region unique varsity opportunities to compete.”

“With the recent addition of Montevallo, Talladega’s announcement creates a travel partner in the state and will help spur additional growth in the region,” she added. “These new opportunities for women fortify our membership as we continue forward on the path to reach NCAA championship status.”

Acrobatics and tumbling, the evolution of diverse forms of gymnastics, involves tumbling, acrobatic lifts, tosses and pyramids. The sport is governed nationally by the NCATA, which provides leadership, governance, and education for the sport of acrobatics and tumbling at the collegiate level. NCATA promotes fair and safe athletic competition while continuing to expand varsity opportunities for female student-athletes at the collegiate level. Annual championships are held in April on an NCATA member campus.

Founded in 1867, Talladega College is Alabama’s first private historically black liberal arts college. The institution was recognized as #13 in the nation for social mobility by U.S. News and World Report in 2022 and named one of Princeton Review’s 2023 Best Colleges Region by Region.