Mount Airy High School cheerleader Samantha Payne’s sporting career with the school will come to an end whenever the Granite Bears play their final basketball game sometime during the late winter.
However, the senior’s athletic career will go on for another four years.
Payne, along with six other members of the Class of 2017 from around the country, signed a National Letter of Intent (NLI) to join the Acrobatics and Tumbling team at King University in the fall of next year. She signed the NLI in a ceremony at Mount Airy High School last Wednesday, a few days after the early signing period began.
The sport of Acrobatics and Tumbling is currently administered at the collegiate level by the National Collegiate Acrobatics and Tumbling Association (NCATA). In partnership with USA Gymnastics, the mission of the NCATA is to bring the sport to NCAA emerging sport status and towards becoming a fully-sanctioned NCAA championship sport.
King University, an NCAA Division II school located in Bristol, Tenn., added Acrobatics and Tumbling to its list of school-sponsored sports in 2012. The Tornado began competing in the sport starting in the 2013-14 academic year. The school became a member of the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) for the sport of acrobatics and tumbling starting this season. The other three members of the conference in this sport are Quinnipiac University, Alderson Broaddus University and Gannon University.
Acrobatics and Tumbling, sometimes called “acro” for short, is the evolution of different forms of gymnastics. The sport involves tumbling, tosses, acrobatic lifts and pyramids. Teams compete in six events including – compulsories, acrobatics, pyramid, toss, tumbling and team event. The skill sets of tumbling and acrobatics are also the athletic aspects of cheerleading. The lifts and tosses you see in cheerleading are actually acrobatics gymnastics skills. Competitors in this sport demonstrate significant strength, power, flexibility, and balance in their skill set performed.
Payne has been active in various gymnastic disciplines since age 3, and currently trains at Salem Gym in Winston-Salem. She has been a cheerleader for the Bears for all four years of high school. She is one of the top students in her senior class, was a Junior Marshal at graduation last year, and is dual-enrolled at MAHS and at Surry Community College. She will enter the pre-med program next year at King.
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