Lander Athletics has announced the addition of acrobatics and tumbling as a new varsity sport. 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 athletic director Brian Reese. “The hiring of Sarah DiSpaltro, who has excelled as a competitor and as a coach, will give our team instant credibility. 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.”

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.

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 event and team championships.

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.

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 in 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.