27 Aug Trampoline and tumbling team members qualify for nationals
by Mark Oliver
Four local athletes had an opportunity of a lifetime — competing on their sport’s highest stage in the nation.
Four members of Sonshine Academy’s Tumbling and Trampoline team — Caleb Aich, Georgeanna Gray, Joshua Hicks and Cade Robinson — recently qualified for the USA Gymnastics Championships in Greensboro, N.C., where they put their skills to the test against the top trampoline and tumbling athletes in the nation.
“This year has been a big year of growth for us — both for our athletes and our skills,” said head coach Jordan Bell. “We held the state championships under our roof and, during that competition, four of our athletes in the eight-through-elite level qualified for the national meet. They came in and bulldogged their way through the competition.”
With the national meet on the horizon, Sonshine Academy amped up its training regimen. While practice did not change much, it was more strenuous.
Results from the national meet:
Caleb Aich – Level 9, seventh in tumbling
Georgeanna Gray – Level 9, sixth on trampoline
Josh Hicks – Level Open Elite, ninth in tumbling
Cade Robinson – Level 9, sixth on double mini trampoline
According to Bell, the program has come a long way since its inception.
“We started our tumbling and trampoline team about six years ago on a whim,” Bell said. “We had seen it done before, but it wasn’t very popular in Arkansas. We thought it was something that we could be competitive at and grow within the community, so we decided to take advantage of the opportunity.”
During meets, athletes endure many events including trampoline, double mini trampoline and tumbling.
“Most of our kids who have come in have either come for cheerleading or gymnastics,” Bell said. “They’ve kind of found a niche with trampoline.” Out of the four athletes who competed in nationals, three are level nine and one has reached the elite level.
Six other athletes from Sonshine Academy’s five-through-seven level qualified for their respective national meet in Reno, Nev.: Aubrie Aich, Aiden Bird, Jamarion Faulkner, Kaeden Ingram, Jacey Swindell and Grazyn Ziegler.
“We got really lucky with our kids this year,” Bell said. “Most of them are fearless and ready to push themselves to the next level. Their drive is something that I can applaud them on. When it comes to coaching that, it’s the most fun thing in the world for us. When they set goals, they work their tails off to reach them.”
According to Bell, Sonshine Academy is always looking for new athletes for its program.
“At Sonshine Academy, we offer recreational trampoline classes,” Bell said. “If someone walks in and wants to try a trampoline class, we always offer a free trial for the first class. With all the recreational programs we have, it’s easy for us to identify a potential talent. If they progress to a competitive team level, then we’ll try to recruit them to the team.”
“The trampoline and tumbling program at Sonshine Academy is great,” said parent Mary Robinson. “It’s a tight-knit community and a fun group to be a part of. They take great care of the kids there. My oldest son wants to work there when he gets older. It’s something to be proud of.”