By Kaitlyn DeHaven | Digital Managing Editor
The Baylor acrobatics and tumbling team is readying itself for the National Championship this weekend, hoping to take home its fifth consecutive national title.
This year’s championship will be held in Waco at the Ferrell Center. The last time the championship was held at Baylor was in 2016, which was some of the athletes’ freshman year. Senior top Ashley Echelberger said it’s exciting to be able to perform in front of their home fans for the championship once more.
“Our fans are the best, and Baylor just puts on a great show – especially a great championship,” Echelberger said.
The team has been working long hours preparing to take on their final three opponents of the season, and senior top/base Kaylee Adams said that head coach Felecia Mulkey has had the athletes practice in every situation – energetic, relaxed – in order to prepare them for the distractions this weekend might bring.
Adams said it’s important to tell the girls who have not been on the team as long that an at-home national championship could be disengaging for the team. She said that with all the fans supporting and yelling from the sidelines, it’s vital that the athletes never let their guards down.
Adams also said that while the weekend will be tiring, it’s nothing they haven’t done before, and the team feels well-prepared. She said thinking about it logistically, the team performs more in practice than they will this weekend, which means they should be ready to take on whatever the other teams bring to the table.
“It’s going to be tiring, and there are going to be times where our bodies are going to be hurting,” Adams said. “We’ve been through it before, and I know we’ll be able to do it again.”
Senior base/back base Ceara Gray said that Mulkey has done a great job not only physically preparing the team, but also mentally preparing the team. She said that with a humble mindset, they are ready to put their best foot forward.
“Coach Fee has given me more opportunities than any woman has ever given me before,” Gray said. “She is such a strong leader, and she’s not only a leader but she’s a role model in my life. She’s granted me so many successes, and it is an absolute pleasure to work under her.”
Echelberger said that she doesn’t think the team has ever been this prepared going into a championship, so she has high hopes for what the weekend will bring.
“This team just has a really good bond and we’re just so talented – I don’t think we’ve ever been this talented before,” Echelberger said. “I’m really excited to take on this championship with this team.”
Adams echoed her by saying that if they trust themselves and each other, they hope to see great results from the championship.
“I know that we are ready for this championship and we are well-prepared,” Adams said. “We haven’t peaked yet, so I can’t wait to.”