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Think about everything you know about gymnastics and cheerleading and imagine them combined into a single college sport. That sums up Acrobatics & Tumbling, which is taking big steps to become a major NCAA event.

Acrobatics & Tumbling takes poise, power, strength, balance, adaptability and so much more! These traits were on display earlier this month at a meet at Morgan State. There were 20 heats broken up into six different events: compulsory, acro, pyramid, toss, tumbling, and team. Each heat is judged based on various criteria, such as executing a certain skill or how difficult the skill is. Morgan State and their opponent, Quinnipiac, were aiming for perfection, but it is far from easy. 

According to the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA) Executive Director Janell Cook the sport is unique as it is created by women, for women at the collegiate level. This year Morgan State is making history because it is the first Division I Historically Black College and University (HBCU) to add an A&T team to their athletics program. This meet was their first ever, after announcing the team's creation in 2022.

The event was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for the student athletes, coaches, judges, and the spectators to be a part of history and witness the start of a program. The most exciting part of the meet was cheering on my cousin, MSU freshman Leyna Vickers, and her teammates.

At first the stands seemed empty, but soon enough they were overflowing with fans. The energy was contagious, and the sportsmanship of both teams was nice to see as they clapped and cheered each other on throughout the entire meet.

At the start of the meet, the announcer cued the Quinnipiac Bobcats to come out and line up on the mat, then it was Morgan State's turn. The stadium rumbled in anticipation waiting for the home team to line up. Then two columns of fire shot up, making the crowd shout even louder. Finally, all the players were on the mat and the national anthem was sung by a very talented 10-year-old girl. Although she was young, she shocked the crowd with her powerful voice.

After the meet, I learned that the MSU Bears had a major routine change just 24 hours before their debut! A few key tumblers were injured and forced coach Regina Smith to make the urgent decision.

 "As a coach, I just have to do what I have to do, I have to make those executive decisions at the last minute, I have to be prepared, and I always have to have a plan A, B, or C. This time we just happened to use C," Smith said. "Honestly, I don’t know if every team could have pushed through what we have faced and still put on a performance under those circumstances.”

At the end of the day Morgan State performed very well but still fell short to a very seasoned Quinnipiac. The final score was 220.770 Bears to 262.580 Bobcats. The Bobcats are ranked No. 3 in A&T this season and their coach, Mary Ann Powers, is entering her 26th season coaching. Ultimately, this hard-fought loss will not only push the Lady Bears' new team, but it will inspire these determined and immensely talented student athletes to keep trying and never give up. The season is only getting started and as coach Smith says, “Be ready...cause we are coming!”